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Free Online Savings and Finance Courses
Personal Finance is a subject that everyone needs to learn since money is a part of all of our lives. You may have learned about how to deal with money from your parents, but some of the information may be outdated or incomplete. They can only teach you what they know, and they probably haven't had the course either. As new banking and investment products are being offered, the economy and tax laws changes, you need to keep up with the changes through continuous education.
You can make up for the fact that the course wasn't offered to you. Even if did take a course, you can take another, updated one now, to learn about how to save, borrow, plan for retirement, and even plan your estate. You can pick up topics that did not interest you in the past as the circumstances in your life change. Best of all, you can learn for free, and on your own schedule through the internet.
These are all courses that are designed to guide you through the world of personal finance. Some of these are actually long term college courses that students have taken for credit, while others are shorter and geared towards a general audience.
These free finance classes are presented in alphabetical order.
Accounting Coach - Learn Accounting Online for Free
Accounting Coach offers a series of classes to help you learn accounting principles. The 34 classes include Bank Reconciliation, Financial Ratios, Bookkeeping, Debits and Credits, and Present Value of a Single Amount. Be sure to view them in the recommended order, since the list of classes is in alphabetical order.
Amazon - Books on Personal Finance
American Financial Solutions - Investing in Yourself
American Financial Solutions offers a series of classes. They suggest that you view them in order. The classes are: Setting Your Financial Goals and Making a Budget, Your Banking Relationship, Understanding Credit and Credit Reports, Introduction to Borrowing, Introduction to Investing, Identity Theft and Predatory Lending, Children and Money, and Your Financial Life for Young Adults. Click on the link that says "Classes" to choose the one you want to take. You don't have to sign in to take the course, but if you do sign in, they will let you keep track of your progress, record your quizzes and give you a certificate at the end.
Carnegie Melon - Experiments in Economics
Experiments in Economics is not a current course offered by Carnegie Melon, but is available from the archive. There are 8 modules that include Supply and Demand, Minimum Wages, Monopolies and Cartels, and Sales Tax. There are assignments you can do to practice.
Charles Schwab Online Workshops
Charles Schwab offers a few seminars that you can watch online. These are seminars so you can watch the ones that pertain to your financial situation. You can easily keep track of your progress on the class, as a timer indicates where you are in the workshop. Here are the classes they currently offer,
- Financing Fundamentals classes include College Savings, Spending and Managing Debt, Estate Plan, and Benefits of Working with Schwab.
- Investment classes include Bonds Explained, Building a Strong Investing Foundation, EFTs Explained, Reassessing Risk in your Portfolio, Time-Tested Approach to Investing, and Using Bonds to Generate Income
- Retirement classes include Funding Your Paycheck in Retirement, Getting Retirement Ready, Maximize Retirement Savings with IRAs, and Saving for Retirement: Get Started Now.
CNN Money - Money 101
CNN Money offers a series of 23 lessons you can take at your own pace. Class offerings include topics such as Setting Priorities, Basics of Banking and Saving, Basics of Investing, Saving for College, Taxes, Buying a Car, Insurance, and 401(k)s.
Cooperative Extension System - Investing For Your Future
Financial Security for All was developed by the Cooperative Extension System in association with your local university. It provides in-depth training for many types of situations, such as investing for the older person, dealing with bankruptcy, issues for farm families, estate planning, and organizing your important papers. You can choose the courses that interest you.
For example, Investing For Your Future is an 11-unit course. It starts with how to find money to invest, explains important financial principles, and tells you about different types of investments, such as fixed income, mutual funds, tax-deferred investments, and small dollar amounts. It also tells you how to choose financial professionals and avoid fraud.
Educational Film Center - Economics U$A
Economics U$A: 21st Century Edition is an economics course presented in an interactive website with interesting videos, MP3s, and tools. It provides an overview of economics that includes history, theory and practice by using current trends and historical analysis. There are 28 programs in the series, including The Great Depression, Pollution and the Environment, Stagflation, The Banking System, and Federal Deficits. I have sampled all of the courses in this article, and plan to go back to take this course.
Don't limit yourself to online courses. You may be able take actual classes in person about personal finance topics for free. Check with your local library, university, or broker to find ones in your area.
ERI Distance Learning Center
The ERI Distance Learning Center offers many different classes that may be particularly helpful if you are self employed or work in human resources or other management fields. Courses for the employee include How to Manage Personal Debt, Individual Retirement Plans and 401(k) Plans, Planning for the Government's Help in Retirement: Social Security and Medicare, Starting Your Own Business, and Basics of Employee Stock Option Plans. You will need to create an account to take any of these classes.
Missouri State Time Value of Money
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Open Economics Courses
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has a large number of open courses that you can take, including Principles of Microeconomics, Principles of Macroeconomics, Behavioral Economics, Game Theory, Statistics, and Economic Crisis. Some of these are lecture notes, while others include assignments and exams. One has multimedia content. They have graduate and undergraduate courses. The Introduction to Finance and Managerial Accounting is for undergraduates.
Money Management International
Money Management International offers a variety of courses for consumers. Specific topics are bankruptcy, credit reports and credit scores, earn more, family finances, financial crisis, frugal living, holiday headquarters, home ownership and home loans, loans and debt, love and money, money and budgeting, savings, and youth and money.
Some of these appear to be links to articles, but if you look on the left, you will find links to hour-long webinars as well.
Open University - Business Courses
The Open University has a variety of classes you can take on business and personal finance. Course titles include Investment Risk, Introduction to Financial Services, You and Your Money, The Financial Markets Context, and Introduction to the Context of Accounting. Most of these courses are three to six hours long, although some are much longer. The ones I sampled had references to the UK.
Purdue Agriculture - Planning for a Secure Retirement
The Planning for a Secure Retirement class from Purdue Agriculture has 10 modules that help you with all aspects including retirement readiness, social security, Medicare, employer retirement programs, individual retirement accounts, self employment, and lump sum retirement distributions. They also have classes on estate planning.
While you are looking through all of these sites, you may want to make a note of the other free online courses and other information that are also available to teach you about a large variety of subjects.
University of Idaho
The extension office of the University of Idaho offers classes on Identity Theft, Credit and Debt, Financial Security, Money 101 and Spend Less, Live Well. These classes are offered as a series of articles about the topics.
University of Irvine - Fundamentals of Personal Financial Planning
Personal Financial Planning from the University of Irvine is designed to help consumers be better able to make decisions about the financial planning advice they receive. Topics include planning family spending, risk management through insurance, taxes, wealth accumulation, investing, and retirement and estate planning. There are eight modules that contain 1 to 6 lessons to read, and require about 25-30 hours total to complete, so you cannot do it in an evening or a weekend. There are no tests and you will not receive a certificate, but you will get valuable guidance that may help you throughout your life.
The University also has some video lectures on entrepreneurship and other topics.
Utah State University - Family Finance
Family Finance is a class that was recorded in 2005 at Utah State University. There were three 100 minute classes per week. There are classes about many topics such as budgeting, buying vs. leasing, develop financial goals, credit cards, home ownership, and organizing paperwork. Look at the syllabus, additional resources, and other information on the left side of the page, and when you are ready to start, click on "download this course" on the right side of the page.
Some of the classes on this list are from commercial vendors that want you to buy something from them. You are not required to buy anything, so you can learn a great deal from them and take the knowledge elsewhere.
Don't feel guilty about taking the free information and walking away. The class is their opportunity to market their wares to you, so simply participating in the marketing effort is your payment.
World Wide Web Tax, Inc. - Free Online Income Tax Course
Free Online Income Tax Course is offered by World Wide Web Tax, Inc. It provides 30 daily lessons that take an hour or two to complete. The video and audio classes also include quizzes and homework assignments. It shows you how to prepare taxes with their proprietary software 1040 ValuePak, but you are not required to purchase the software to take the course.
It also tells you how to interview clients so you can start your own tax business. It is difficult to tell if the information in the class is current, but the copyright date on the website does say 2012, and the site does say that clients are informed of tax law changes each year. Even if it isn't, it will provide you with the basic information that you need to get started, and you can use the free software listed on the IRS website to do your own taxes.
Yale University - Economics Courses
Yale University offers some videos on economics. You can listen to these four courses on YouTube or iTunes.
- Financial Markets was taught by Robert J. Shiller on campus twice per week for 75 minutes in 2008 and recorded in 2008 and 2011.
- Financial Theory by John Geanakoplos
- Game Theory by Ben Polak
Chart Your Own Course
Instead of taking a course that is prescribed by a particular school or institution, you can freely read some financially related article every day. They are available in so many different places and ways.
My personal opinion is that every source is biased in some way. For example, the investment professionals may be pushing investments that boost their revenue, and may not look at investments that are outside the purview of what they sell. Some individuals may not have information about the latest financial products or may tend to be more conservative. Some of them may not be written by professionals in the field, but I enjoy learning about different viewpoints so I can make my own decisions. Here are some places you can get this free information:
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- Your internet provider probably has a list of financial articles and is good for keeping up with the latest financial news, for example, MSN Money and Yahoo Finance.
- YouTube videos.
- Newspapers, such as the Wall Street Journal, and magazines such as Kiplinger have websites that include free news and information.
- Look for competitors to the sources listed in this article. There are many schools and brokerage firms in addition to the ones listed here that offer financial information.
- There are many blogs that specialize in financial topics. For example, The University of Illinois extension office provides a blog called Plan Well, Live Well. You will find many blogs on frugal living, couponing, money management, as well as many related topics.
- There are many articles right here on HubPages. There are currently 17 categories on the Personal Finance topic, including debt and bankruptcy, frugal living, insurance, personal finance software, and taxes.
Free Internet Resources to Learn About Money
There are so many resources that will teach you not only about the basics of handling money, but more advanced topics about dealing with estate planning, deciding whether to buy or lease, whether to refinance your mortgage, how to spot and avoid fraud and scams, and how to invest your money wisely. Take advantage of these free opportunities to learn, and you will find that you are capable of working towards a more secure financial future. The investment of your time could pay off a million-fold throughout the course of your life.
© 2012 Shasta Matova