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How to invest $20K in Canada

Wondering where to invest $20K in Canada? Here are 5 great options.

If you have $20K sitting in the bank, congratulations! You might be wondering how to take that pile of cash and turn it into even more money. Here are 5 ways to maximize returns on a $20K investment.

How to build a $20K investment portfolio

Your investment portfolio is a reflection of your financial goals. You could invest in stocks if you won’t need the $20K for another 10 years, but stocks are higher risk – with potentially higher returns.

If you’ll need the money in 3 years, you may consider a less risky investment type with modest returns, such as a GIC or bond.

Here’s one example of how a $20,000 portfolio might look if you’re aiming for higher returns over a longer period of time:

Investment typePercentage
GICs and bonds0 to 40%
Stocks, ETFs and mutual funds50% to 75%
Real estate and alternative investments0 to 25%

Before you invest $20K

Before you invest $20K, make sure you have the following in place:

  • Emergency fund. Ideally, you’ll keep 3-6 months of expenses in a high-yield savings account. Depending on your cost of living, this could be a small or large portion of your $20K.
  • No high-interest debt. Paying off debt before you invest means you won’t have sky-high interest payments eating into your investment returns.
  • Kids’ education fund. If you have children, you may consider setting aside a portion of the $20K for their college education.

Contribute to an RRSP

If you’re looking to save for retirement, you can get a jump start by opening a Registered Retirement Savings Account (RRSP).

Pros

  • Tax-deferred growth. You fund an RRSP with pre-tax money, so it can grow in the account without being subject to tax.
  • Use funds to buy your first home. You can withdraw funds before you turn 71 for qualifying expenses, such as your first home (through the Home Buyers’ Plan) or certain educational expenses (through the Lifelong Learning Plan).

Cons

  • Can’t use funds until retirement. You’ll pay a penalty if you withdraw RRSP funds before you’re 71.
  • Limited investment options. RRSP plans use simple investment vehicles like stocks, bonds and mutual funds.
  • Not the best option for low-earners. If you think you’ll be earning more later on in life, you’ll want to max out your TFSA before you start investing in an RRSP in order to minimize your taxes when you eventually withdraw.

Investments that can be held in an RRSP

RRSPs are designed to hold certain types of assets including:

  • Mutual Funds
  • Exchange-Traded Funds
  • Stocks
  • Bonds
  • Guaranteed Investment Certificates
  • Income Trusts
  • Mortgage Loans
  • Foreign Currency
  • Labour-Sponsored Funds

Invest in the stock market yourself

If you’re comfortable being a hands-on investor, $20K is more than enough to get started with an online broker.

Pros

  • Variety. Many brokers offer stocks, mutual funds, bonds, ETFs and options.
  • Self-directed. You have full control to invest however you want.
  • Help when you need it. Many top online brokers offer investment advice in the form of extensive research centers, in-person support and automated investment strategies.

Cons

  • Potential mistakes. You could make costly mistakes with your $20K if you don’t have a lot of investing experience.
  • Fees. Many online brokers are moving toward a commission-free model, but there are still some that charge hefty trade commissions.

1 - 4 of 4
Name Product Finder Rating Available Asset Types Stock Trading Fee Account Fee Signup Offer Table description
Interactive Brokers
Finder Score:
★★★★★
4.3 / 5
Stocks, Bonds, Options, ETFs, Currencies, Futures
min $1.00, max 0.5%
$0
N/A
Winner for Best Overall Broker in the Finder Stock Trading Platform Awards.
CIBC Investor's Edge
Finder Score:
★★★★★
3.8 / 5
Stocks, Bonds, Options, Mutual Funds, ETFs
$6.95
$0 if conditions met, or $100
100 free trades + up to $4,500 cash back
An easy-to-use platform with access to a variety of tools to help you trade with confidence.
Questrade
Finder Score:
★★★★★
4.3 / 5
Stocks, Bonds, Options, Mutual Funds, ETFs, GICs, International Equities, Precious Metals
$4.95 - $9.95
$0
Get $50 in free trades when you fund your account with a minimum of $1,000.
Opt for self-directed investing and save on fees or get a pre-built portfolio to take out some of the guesswork.
Qtrade Direct Investing
Finder Score:
★★★★★
3.7 / 5
Stocks, Bonds, Options, Mutual Funds, ETFs, GICs
$6.95 - $8.75
$0 if conditions met, otherwise $25/quarter
Get up to a $150 sign-up bonus. Use code OFFER2024. Ends October 31, 2024.
Low trading commissions and an easy-to-use platform with access to powerful tools and a wide selection of investment options.
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Invest with a robo advisor

$20,000 is a lot of money, so if you’d like some guidance on how to invest it, a robo advisor may be a good alternative to a traditional adviser.

Pros

  • Inexpensive. Required fees and investment minimums are much lower than with a traditional financial adviser.
  • Goals-based investing. Robo-advisors make algorithmic recommendations based on your goals, risk tolerance and investing timeline.
  • Requires minimal time or effort. Robo-advisors keep your portfolio in tip-top shape by performing routine tax-loss harvesting and automatic rebalancing.

Cons

  • Limited flexibility. You typically can’t choose your own investments.
  • Not entirely personalized. Robo-advisors give advice based on the questions they ask you. But they can’t ask follow-up questions if your situation is unique.
  • Managed by a computer. If you prefer face-to-face discussions about investing, this may not be the best option.

1 - 3 of 3
Name Product Min. Deposit Funding methods Management fee Available Asset Types
Wealthsimple Invest
$1
Direct deposit, Bank transfer
0.40%–0.50%
Stocks
Get a $25 bonus when you open and deposit $500 in your account – Trade and Cash accounts are not eligible.
Questwealth Portfolios
$1
Direct deposit, Bank transfer
0.20% - 0.25%
Stocks, Bonds, ETFs, Commodities
A robo-advisor offering low fee portfolios that are actively managed and dynamically rebalanced when market conditions change.
Moka
$0
Automatic bank withdrawals
$7.00/month
ETFs
The Moka app rounds up every purchase you make to the nearest dollar and invests the spare change into low-cost exchange-traded funds (ETFs).
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Invest in real estate

There are several ways you could invest in real estate with $20K. You could go through a company like Wealthsimple to purchase real estate investment trusts (REITs) through an exchange traded fund (ETD). Alternatively, you could connect with commercial property developers through a peer-to-peer lending platform like Lending Loop, or put a downpayment on a house and rent it out yourself.

Learn more about property investing in our detailed guide.

Pros

  • Passive income. Real estate is an attractive investment because it produces a steady flow of income.
  • Plenty of options. With $50k, you can choose to invest in REITs, commercial properties or your own property.
  • Safe options. If you want to invest in real estate in the safest way possible, you can purchase REITs, which are made up of hundreds of different properties and trade like stocks.

Cons

  • May need accreditation. Some crowdfunding sites won’t let you directly invest in real estate without qualifying as an accredited investor.
  • Possible risk of default. If you choose to invest in a single property, you could lose your money if it defaults.
  • Illiquid investment. Real estate can’t be easily sold or converted to cash, so it may not be a good option if you’ll need your money soon.

Invest in peer-to-peer lending

Lend your money to other individuals in need through peer-to-peer (P2P) lending.

Pros

  • Lucrative returns. The average investor earns between 5% and 9% interest with P2P lending.
  • Steady cash flow. You’ll receive steady monthly income as the borrower repays their loan.
  • You’re helping someone in need. Most P2P investors enjoy lending money to help someone who needs it more than they do.

Cons

  • Risk of default. There’s a chance you could lose your money if someone defaults on their loan.
  • P2P lending is new. This industry has only been around since the Great Recession, so it’s hard to tell how it will do during the next economic downturn.
  • Unsecured loans. Often, borrowers don’t put up collateral for the loans, so there’s a slim chance you’ll get your money back if something happens.

Bottom line

There are a lot of different ways you can invest $20K. Your best option depends on your current financial situation and goals.

Prioritize paying off high-interest debt and establishing an emergency fund first. Then narrow down your top picks and the different types of investment accounts available to you, and start comparing top investment accounts for your strategy.

Frequently asked questions

Disclaimer: This information should not be interpreted as an endorsement of futures, stocks, ETFs, CFDs, options or any specific provider, service or offering. It should not be relied upon as investment advice or construed as providing recommendations of any kind. Futures, stocks, ETFs and options trading involves substantial risk of loss and therefore are not appropriate for all investors. Trading CFDs and forex on leverage comes with a higher risk of losing money rapidly. Past performance is not an indication of future results. Consider your own circumstances, and obtain your own advice, before making any trades. Read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) and Target Market Determination (TMD) for the product on the provider's website.

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