How young is too young to be a Couch Potato investor?

Even teenagers earning their first paycheques can become passive investors.



From the Summer 2013 issue of the magazine.


Q: My son has a flyer route and wants to save $50 a month. I would like to teach him about the Couch Potato strategy, but can he put $50 a month straight into an investment? If so, where can he go to do that?

—Eden Daley, Regina

A: The Couch Potato strategy is a super-simple, low-cost way to invest. But when you’re just starting out and don’t have a lot of money to put in, you really need to watch transaction costs. For example, your son shouldn’t use exchange traded funds (ETFs) because the trading commissions he’d be paying could top $19 for every purchase. For small, regular contributions, the ING Streetwise Portfolios are probably the best bet. There are four different index mutual funds to choose from, each with a different mix of stocks and bonds, says Canadian Couch Potato blogger Dan Bortolotti. You can open an account online with no annual fee, no minimum account size and zero maintenance, since you’re buying a single fund that rebalances itself. The MER is 1.07%, which is high compared to ETFs but low considering the amount of money invested. However, there is one wrinkle: You will need to open the account for him, as he can’t do it himself until he reaches the age of majority.

Bruce Sellery is a frequent guest on financial television shows and author of Moolala. Do you have your own personal question? Write to Bruce at

6 comments on “How young is too young to be a Couch Potato investor?

  1. Depends on your brokerage. With Questrade(and a few others) You can buy ETF's for free. It costs money to sell them but if you're only buying a few different kinds thats not too bad. There is an annual fee with Questrade unless you make one commissionable trade or be under the age of….25 i think. They might be worth talking to in any case.


    • I was considering Questrade option before, but it did not give me a warm and fuzzy feeling when I tried to clarify the options. Are there other options with buy ETF's for free or lower than $19/transaction?


  2. TD e series is also a viable option. You can set up a couch potato with the 4 funds (canadian, US, international, bonds) and you can do a regular contribution of as low as $25 each. Or you could just simplify and just do a canadian and a bond fund for now, since its a small amount of money and its just for starting young. ING works as well, but the MER is quite a bit more than other options (e series and free etf's).


  3. Hello Eden,

    You can do one better by looking into opening a TD e-series account. The MERs are much lower than ING Streetwise portfolio. Look them up and you can set up a RRSP with a minimum purchase of 50$ a month per index fund.



  4. Virtual Brokers – no fee for buying ETFs


  5. I wish my parents had spoken to me at a younger age about investing. Even just on a small scale, to slowly learn the basic principles would have been a nice start. I think parents far too often avoid discussions relating to financial issues with their kids.

    Nothing wrong with an early start.


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