Your financial health can be compared with your nutritional health – and it’s just as important for quality of life.

Consider your meals.  You can:

  • Eat out, buy packaged food, or hire a personal chef
  • Prepare the bare minimum to fill you up with no regard to nutritional content
  • Take an interest by watching cooking shows and on-line demos, trying new recipes and reading up on nutrition and meal planning

The more you know, the better decisions you’ll make.  You may never become a financial expert – or a gourmet cook – but you’ll be able to make wise and informed choices that will stand you in good stead for the rest of your life.

Related: Where Do You Get Your Financial Information?

To learn more, and to stay abreast of economic events, you can read a wide variety of magazines, newspapers, newsletters, blogs and books.  You can take a course on investing or join an investment club.

Books and other publications

Publications, whether on-line or in paper form, are a great source of information about investing, personal financial management, trading, tax planning, saving for retirement, and insurance.

You can read about general financial topics (e.g. MoneySense magazine), guidance for beginning investors (e.g. No Hype by Gail Bebee) or specific information on a subject that interests you (Jacks on Tax by Evelyn Jacks).  Browse the shelves of your local library or bookstore.

Bear in mind that Canadian and U.S. books are based on different tax laws, products and procedures.

Detailed market reports are found in the Financial Post and the Globe and Mail, which contain a wealth of information and can keep you informed of the status of your securities investments.

On-line sources

People trying to educate themselves via the Internet will find more “hits” than they could handle in a lifetime.  With all this choice comes confusion.  Be wary of taking investing tips from unrecognizable sources.

Some good on-line sources are:

Take a course

Completing a course on investing and money management is always a sound undertaking.  Courses range from the very basic to the more advanced.  Often there’s a fee, but a lot of information is offered free of charge.

Related: 10 Fees Worth The Money

Banks, financial planners, brokerages, insurance companies, colleges and even community groups offer financial seminars.  Find out what’s available in your area.  Determine the instructor’s qualifications before you enroll and that he or she is unbiased.

Be wary of financial seminars that are very general or are a venue to promote a firm’s products.  If the advertisement reads, “Mr. B will discuss why X is the most exciting product in the market today,” it’s probably a clue that the presenter is going to be pitching rather than informing.

Many interested do-it-yourself investors take the Canadian Securities Course or Certified Financial Planning Course, either on-line or at their local college for personal interest rather than aspiring to a financial career.

Final thoughts

Many of us want to take control of our own trading through a discount brokerage and are interested in ideas about how to select an investment.  More people want to take responsibility for their investments.

The potential for information overload means the educated investor has to be a discerning student.  You could attend a financial seminar seven days a week or spend hours daily reading financial publications.

Related: 5 Misconceptions About Retirement Planning

If you don’t know what something means, don’t be afraid to ask a question – or look it up.  Investors should never stop learning and expanding their knowledge.

Read about the basics and then diversify, choosing sources that are easy for you to understand as well as enjoyable.  Enjoy the challenge.

People should want as much information about what they’re putting in their portfolios as they do about what they’re putting in their mouths.

So the next time you’re tempted to buy an investment you know nothing about, think of it as a sandwich you found sitting on your desk.

Wouldn’t you want to know more about its origins and history before you began to “stuff it in your mouth?”

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