Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

Jump to main navigationJump to main content

One, Two, Three (Thomas Polen/Getty Images/iStockphoto)
One, Two, Three (Thomas Polen/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Investing Basics

Figure out your time horizon before investing Add to ...

Your time horizon is the length of time you expect to invest your money for. It's a key consideration when choosing investments.

​Here are 3 sample time horizons and some investments that might be appropriate for each one.

Time horizonWhat to keep in mindInvestments that may work for you

​Less than 5 years

Examples: saving for a car, vacation or down payment on a home

You want your money to grow, but if you get poor results, you won’t have time to make back your losses.

Consider lower-risk investments that are easy to turn into cash.

​High-interest rate savings accounts


Savings bonds

Money market funds

​Between 5 and  10 years

Examples: saving for your child’s education or a second property
You want your money to grow and you know you have a few years before you’ll need it.

Consider some investments with more growth potential and a moderate level of risk.



Equity mutual funds

More than 10 years away

Example: retirement

​You know you have many years before you’ll need the cash. If you have losses, you have time to make them up. At the same time, this money is important for the future. You likely don’t want to take on too much risk.

Consider some investments with medium to high growth potential and a moderate to higher level of risk.

​Growth mutual funds

Exchange-traded funds (ETFs)

Segregated funds


Whole life insurance

Content in this section is provided in partnership with Investor Education Fund, a non-profit organization founded and supported by the Ontario Securities Commission that provides unbiased and independent financial tools to help Canadians make better money decisions. To find out more, go to: GetSmarterAboutMoney.ca


In the know

Most popular videos »


More from The Globe and Mail

Most popular