You'd have to be living in a vacuum not to have heard the message about the importance of investing - particularly during RRSP season when it seems everyone has an idea about where you should plant your money for best growth potential.
But with so many places competing for your investment dollar, it's hard to know where to start.
That's why the experts tell you to start by consulting an expert.
"For those who are just starting to think about investing their money, an important first step is to consult a professional," says Steve Geist, president of CIBC Asset Management. "An experienced financial adviser can help you build a plan tailored to your individual goals, timeline, budget and tolerance for risk and can help you select the investment solutions that best suit you."
That said, experts will also tell you to do your homework, to know what you want and how you're going to get it.
CIBC offers these six fundamental concepts to help demystify investing.
Have a plan - know what you want to achieve with your investments and how they'll take you closer to your goals. And don't set the plan aside: review it annually with your adviser to help you stay on track.
Start today - waiting for the perfect investment market is like waiting for the "right time" to have kids - there's never a right time. So make your plan then act on it.
Account for taxes - "Some investments are more advantageous than others as taxes and inflation can diminish returns," the CIBC warns. Investing in a Registered Retirement Savings Plan, for example, makes sense if you'll be in a lower tax bracket after you retire. A Tax-Free Savings Account, which offers no immediate tax breaks, makes sense if you don't want to have to worry about paying taxes on it later.
Contribute regularly - small, regular contributions are easier to find than large, lump-sum payments. "This is the most painless way to get started and you will be pleasantly surprised with the results," says CIBC.
Understand risk and diversify - a recent poll suggests Canadians are illiterate about risk, so discuss with your adviser how much risk you can bear, and how much is associated with any given investment. No one can guarantee that your investments will never lose money, but you can build a balanced, well-diversified plan that meets your own risk tolerance levels.
Invest for the long term - "Give your investments a chance to grow. Be patient and let time do its work," says CIBC. Try not to withdraw capital from your registered investments to pay short-term debts.