10 Places to Get Free Personal Finance Classes
Many people don't realize that well-structured personal finance classes are widely available for free. These classes are often provided by major universities like Yale and Purdue, and are usually available online via a free download; you just need to know where to look.
Taking advantage of these resources can improve your ability to save money, budget, extend cash flow, and even get a handle on more advanced personal finance topics like investing and saving for your retirement. So, if you've been trying to get your finances in order but just aren't sure where to find the information you need to do so, this is your one-stop shop for the best available resources. (See also: 8 Cheap Ways to Continue Your Education Without Going Back to School)
Some of these courses address specialty areas (retirement, financial markets, etc.) while others are broader and handle personal finance in a more general sense. Whatever you need, you're likely to find a suitable course here.
Developed by the AFSA Education Foundation, MoneySKILL is a free resource geared towards helping young adults learn how to manage their money. You can read over the different modules as well as see a demo of the actual program.
2. CNN Money 101
The content is text-based, yet easy to read and follow. The course is given in 23 different lessons, covering everything from making a budget to managing your 401(k). Though you lose the course-feel without an instructor, the content is classroom-level quality and may even save you a little time by allowing you to focus on the bullet points. By the end of the 23 lessons you'll have covered everything from saving for college and controlling debt to estate planning, various insurance issues, and 401(k)s.
3. Principles of Microeconomics (MIT Open Courseware)
The course is actually based off of a textbook that you'll need to buy on Amazon (plenty of used copies for one penny), but the lecture notes, assignments, and course material are all available for download free of charge. The course is taught by a number of different professors and teaching assistants and covers the basics of supply and demand, market demand, pricing points, and monopolies, as well as a range of tax and government related topics.
4. Financial Markets Econ 252 From Yale University
Taught by author and Professor Robert Shiller, Econ 252 covers the theory of finance, basic economic institutions, markets, and what we can expect them to look like in the future. Learning about the economic underpinnings of your personal finances can give you a more comprehensive understanding about how your money works and how it's impacted by the broader economic picture. Coursework is available for download, while video content is available via iTunes U or YouTube.
5. Free Kindle Resources From Bob Lotich
Bob Lotich is an award-winning blogger who has been writing about personal finance since 2007. He's published several books, many of which are available for free via Kindle. He focuses on getting out of debt, charitable giving, and budgeting for both personal and family life.
6. Family Finance From Utah State University
This course focuses on financial planning from a family perspective and shows you how to establish values and goals for your family, then how to customize your financial plan to reach those goals. Practical exercises are included to learn things like buying a major appliance (dishwasher, dryer, etc.), taking home inventory, buying versus leasing, and comparing credit cards.
7. Money Management International
Money Management International (MMI) offers a wealth of different resources for personal finance topics including frugal living, holiday spending, bankruptcy, debt, and budgeting. They also offer a series of webinars that you can take advantage of if you don't mind working around their schedule.
8. Planning a Secure Retirement From Purdue
The earlier you can start planning and saving for your retirement, the better off you'll be when it actually happens. This course sets the simple goal of helping you plan to do that. If retirement is something that you don't understand or that just scares you, this eight-module course is the ideal way to start educating yourself.
9. Personal Finance From Missouri State University (iTunes U)
Missouri State University offers a full-scale personal finance course via iTunes U that's presented in a video format. There are eight classes, ranging in time from 20 to 40 minutes and covering the basics of personal finance. It's a good generalized course that covers the basics of goal-setting, budgeting, credit, insurance, and even the time value of money.
10. Finance and Capital Markets from Khanacademy
Khanacademy provides high-level information, which means they're going to cover functionality and broad concepts before they'll get down into the details. However, when it comes to personal finance, that kind of information is tremendously valuable. Khan's site provides it in four different categories; microeconomics, entrepreneurship, finances and capital markets, and macroeconomics. Each module is broken up into their own categories with somewhere between 10 to 20 lessons for each one.
No Reason Not to Learn
We have less reason than any other generation to be misinformed when it comes to our money and our personal finances. Yet it seems we may just be one of the worst when it comes to managing our assets.
With so much material available to us, we should be rushing to take advantage of it. Because knowledge (particularly in this area) has a way of improving the quality of life. When it comes to our money, the more we know, the better off we'll be.
What are some free personal finance courses that you've found to be helpful? Let me know in the comments section below.