Personal finance is something most people learn by trial and error. But, if you would rather skip the school of hard knocks, there are plenty of online classes. Financial literacy is all about smart money management and making it work for you.
Whether you need to learn the basics, delve deeper into investing strategies, or learn how to buy a house, there is an online course for you. Here are ten of the best.
1. edX’s Finances for Everyone
edX’s Finances for Everyone is rated as the best overall online personal finance class by Investopedia. It is a free course made for nearly everyone ready to learn how to manage their finances better.
However, you will want to be familiar with basic accounting terms and high-school-level algebra. edX’s course is structured like a typical online undergrad college course, but it is self-paced. In addition, the curriculum provides a solid overview of personal finance topics.
You will start by learning about how the time value of money works and how to use its principles to make financial decisions. Then, you can think of compound interest and the ways it can apply to investing and saving, in addition to borrowing. The course also includes discussion groups and videos. In case you need help making up your mind, here is what people are saying.
2. Udemy’s Personal Finance 101: Everything You Need to Know
This is another free online financial literacy course that starts with the basics. But, you do not need to know accounting terms or understand high-school algebra. Udemy is also rated as one of the top free online learning platforms.
In Personal Finance 101: Everything You Need to Know, you will have access to quizzes and three hours of video content. In addition, you will go through 53 different topics and lectures at your own pace.
This course is specifically aimed at people who are just starting to build their financial chops. So, you will be learning about everything from filing income taxes to choosing the best credit cards. The only thing you need to do is create a Udemy account to get started.
3. Ramsey Solutions’ Ramsey+
Although this online course isn’t free, it is designed by one of the world’s top financial experts, Dave Ramsey. Ramsey is known for his best-selling personal finance books and radio talk shows. The Ramsey+ course will cost you $129 a year, but there’s a 14-day free trial.
You will gain access to Ramsey’s Financial Peace University’s videos and tutorials with the course. You’ll also get the chance to participate in a large online community of others who are currently taking the journey to improved financial literacy.
Besides the online community, Ramsey+ assigns you a personal mentor. This person is with you every step of the way to provide advice, help you overcome learning curves, and use personal finance tools to your advantage.
4. Udemy’s The Complete Personal Finance Course
This is not one of Udemy’s free courses, but it is considered a lower-priced online course that teaches financial literacy. The curriculum is led by an award-winning business teacher and best-selling writer, Chris Haroun.
One hundred ten thousand people have already taken the Complete Personal Finance Course, and 6,200 of them gave it an average rating of 4.6 on a scale of 1 to 5. But, unlike Udemy’s free personal finance course, you will have lifetime access.
Plus, you will go through 122 topics and lectures with over 16 hours of video content. For example, you will learn to save money for retirement goals and emergencies. There is even a lecture on how to budget for your pets.
On top of all these resources, you will get spreadsheets that help you walk through real-life exercises. So, you will not be just listening to someone talk the walk. Instead, you will be trying it out, increasing your absorption of the material.
5. Coursera’s Financial Planning for Young Adults
Who has graduated from high school or college without an accurate idea of budgeting and managing debt? This is a free course created by the University of Illinois and the CFP Board with young adults in mind.
Some of the topics and lectures include managing financial risk, investing and saving, and budgeting. Responsible borrowing and credit use is another crucial topic. The course lasts four weeks, with each subject including quizzes, real-world case studies and exercises, and videos.
If you are interested in a potential career as a Certified Financial Planner, the last module covers preparation for a finance career. In addition, you will get to see interviews and insights from professionals already working in the industry and as Certified Financial Planners.
6. Khan Academy’s Saving and Budgeting
This great complementary course zeroes in to create a workable budget and save for the future. There are practical exercises, videos with lectures, and real-world case studies within the course.
Participants in the course will learn a brief introduction to personal money management. Then, you will define what your financial objectives are. Want to save a down payment for a house? Include it! Or, maybe you want to learn how to start your retirement planning before it is too late.
Either way, you will incorporate your personal goals into a budget designed just for your circumstances. You will also learn basic budgeting strategies, such as ideal percentages for various categories.
For example, no more than 30% to 40% of your take-home pay should go to housing. However, this may not be practical for those with lower incomes or individuals who live in more expensive housing markets. Still, you will learn to work around those obstacles and live in your means. If you need more convincing, read more about Khan Academy here.
7. Duke University’s Behavioral Finance Course
Even though this course is designed by a university, it is free to the public. The course teaches how your perceptions and attitudes about money impact your financial decisions. This includes everything from spending and borrowing to whether you save discretionary income.
You will learn how to identify what perceptions and internal biases might be leading to poor decision-making. Then, you will master ways to change those perceptions and make personal finance decisions that help you increase your quality of life.
For instance, a belief that money can only be earned through hard labor might prevent you from earning it through investments. Likewise, seeing your parents stick to conservative investments might have ingrained the idea in your head that high-earning investments are too risky.
Although the behavioral finance course is free, you can earn certification by paying a small fee.
8. National Endowment for Financial Education’s Smart About Money Course
The National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) wants to empower the public regarding personal finance. It’s the main reason why the non-profit organization offers its Smart About Money course for free.
A great thing about this course is that you will get access to various tools and instructional materials. There are calculators to work with, worksheets, quizzes, articles, and individual modules.
The articles aren’t just about learning how to budget better or use credit wisely. You can also find information about careers in finance and budgeting for specific life events, such as going back to school or buying a home.
9. Alison’s Introduction to Managing Your Personal Finance Debts
This is a free and short course, lasting only an hour. But if you want to learn how to handle your debt, Introduction to Managing Your Personal Finance Debts will be up your alley. Even if you do not have a lot of debt, the course can teach you to manage it well.
For instance, you will learn how to track your debt on a spreadsheet and how to pay them off using different methods. You will also learn how to work with creditors and prioritize payoff schedules.
Say you have a $100,000 mortgage balance at 2.5% interest and a credit card with a $10,000 balance at 15% interest. In most cases, you would want to prioritize putting more money toward the credit card and pay it off sooner than your mortgage. The course teaches you strategies like these and becoming as debt-free as possible.
10. Khan Academy’s Housing Course
Khan Academy’s Housing course is not just about buying real estate. It is for anyone who needs to rent or purchase a place to live. So unless you have inherited your dwelling space or live rent-free, this course applies to anyone.
The course contains 19 different lectures, covering the differences between a mortgage and rent payment. For instance, you can deduct a portion of your mortgage payment and initial expenses.
Image Credit: Steve Stark