If you can save just $100 per month, you might struggle to decide between putting your money in a savings account, or investing in the stock market.

If you can find a savings account that gives a 3% rate of return, after 10 years you will have saved up $13,980. $12,000 is from cash deposits, and $1,980 from interest.

If you invest in the stock market at the average growth rate of the S&P 500, after 10 years you will have saved up $19,620. $12,000 is from cash deposits, and $7,620 from interest.

Make your money work for you!

The best time to start saving is NOW!

If you can start saving and investing just $110 per month when you turn 18 earning the standard market rate of return, you will have saved up over $1 million by the time you turn 65. This amounts to saving just $62,000 – letting compound interest and the markets do the rest.

If you wait until you are 25 to start saving, you’ll need to increase your monthly savings by $90 per month to reach the same goal – saving up a total of $96,000.

By waiting, you will need to save an extra full year of wages just to reach the same goal! Start saving now, for huge returns in the future!

Saving a million dollars is easier than you think!

If you can invest just $200 per month starting when you turn 18 and earn the average market return, you will have saved up over a million dollars when you turn 58!

It also keeps growing – you will have over $1,800,000 by the time you turn 65 – letting you spend over a hundred thousand dollars per year while your investments continue to grow in retirement!

Bonds are a loan you can make to governments, and they will pay you back regular interest payments. At the end of the bond term, you will also get back the loan amount.

Bonds are very low-risk investments, but also tend to be very low reward (typically not much more inflation). These are a great way to invest if you are unsure about the stock and commodities markets.

Exchange Traded Funds (or ETFs) are investment funds with a lot in common with mutual funds. Instead of being managed by a professional Fund Manager, ETFs are designed to replicate the movement of some other index, such as the S&P 500, or follow the price of oil. These can be used both to diversify a portfolio and to invest in things like commodities, which do not normally trade on the stock exchange.

ETFs are a good way to invest in a broad range of investments all at once, such as broadly investing in Biotech stocks. They can also be used to “Go Short” on a broad index, or even use a Leveraged ETF to double the gains (or losses) of whatever it is tracking!

If you want to diversify but don’t know where to start, the answer might be mutual funds!

Mutual funds are professionally-managed investment funds that you can invest in. Once you invest, a professional Fund Manager will use your money across a wide range of vehicles, which can include stocks, bonds, currencies, commodities, and more. Each mutual fund has its own investment goals and guidelines (and different balances between risk and reward).

The stock market has increased by more than 13 times since 1979, an impressive return! However, stocks are one of the most volatile investments you can make – and choosing individual stocks can be risky.

If you want to chase impressive returns from individual companies, stocks are the way to go. If you want a more hands-off investment with fewer ups and downs, you might want gold, mutual funds, or ETFs.

Keep in mind that smart investors keep a healthy mix of different investment types as part of their diversification strategy!

The price of Gold generally goes up when the markets go down, as investors think it will hold its value if stocks start to fall.

Since 1979, the S&P 500 grew 13 times faster than the price of Gold. However, during the last market crash, Gold almost doubled its price (from its lowest to highest points), while the S&P 500 lost half of its value (from the highest to its lowest point).

If you are worried about a stock crash, gold might be a good place to invest. If you think the stock market is strong, stick to stocks, mutual funds, and ETFs!

The first step to starting a budget is to understand how you spend your money NOW.

For the next month, write down absolutely everything you spend your money on – from school lunches to cups of coffee to clothes, and everything in between!

At the end of the month, take a look at all your spending, and try to categorize it (Food, Clothing, Transportation, ect). This will let you see what you are spending now. Now you can decide if you are happy with your current spending, or if you want to set different goals for next month!

A “Spending Plan” is similar to a budget, but a bit easier to manage and follow. With a spending plan, you will not try to allocate every dollar of your income to either saving or spending, but set a general guide on how much you usually spend for different things.

By setting aside your savings before even looking at your other expenses, most people find it much simpler to stay under budget!

If you have income and expenses, you need a budget! Budgets are living tools that you can use to visualize how much you spend every month, and are essential to setting and meeting your savings goals.