The coronavirus pandemic has upended many Americans’ finances. Millions are unemployed, many have seen their working hours reduced, and others are trying to cut back as the future looks less certain. Many people are budgeting for the first time.
Making the right financial decisions in these difficult times can be challenging. Luckily, there are free resources that can help anyone get a better understanding of personal finance. For example, several free online courses teach the basics of personal finance as well as more advanced topics. These classes are great for anyone, from 20-somethings launching a career to older adults nearing retirement. Some of the top courses you may want to check out include:
This edX course offers a deep dive into personal finance. Created by a professor of finance at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, the course is designed to take six weeks to complete if you dedicate between five to six hours of work on it each week. After the class, you should feel more empowered to make financial decisions related to your personal and professional goals. The course is an investment of time, but it provides a solid foundation for further exploration.
Offered through the educational platform Alison, this one-hour class covers the basics of debt management and goes over strategies for paying off debts as quickly as possible. After the course, you should be able to create your own debt-elimination plan that prioritizes debts that need to be paid off first. Importantly, the class delves into high-interest debt, such as credit card debit, but also covers other relevant topics, including student loans.
This Coursera class is another significant investment of time that may take up to 18 hours to complete. However, it is comprehensive in its coverage of basic personal finance topics like credit, investing, savings, budgeting, and borrowing. The class involves lectures, as well as real-world scenarios for making key decisions. While the name implies that the class is designed only for young people, people of all ages who feel like they need a better foundation of financial literacy will benefit from the course.
Altogether, Americans have more than a trillion dollars in credit card debt and significantly more than that in student loans. Because of this, it is important to have a clear understanding of loans and what they entail. This Udemy course explains how lines of credit work so people can make informed decisions. The class is only an hour, but it covers secured and unsecured loans, term loans, and revolving credit. It also explains the concept of interest and demonstrates interest rate calculations. If you are particularly concerned about student loan debt, you may also want to check out the Udemy class Student Loan Debt: How to Pay Off Student Loans Fast.
While you may think that home ownership is an impossibility or far in the future, this Khan Academy class can still prove helpful. It is a straightforward look at the process of buying a home. After the course, you may realize you are closer to home ownership than you thought and may be able to create a plan for achieving that goal. In this class, you’ll learn about mortgages, equity, escrow, home equity loans, titles, and deeds, while also going over the pros and cons of purchasing a home versus renting one. The course additionally offers a great overview of how to finance a house.
Many people feel overwhelmed when they think about retirement and saving for it. For the unfamiliar, retirement planning can seem like it has its own language, with acronyms and numbers like Roth IRA and 401(k) thrown around. This Khan Academy class is designed to remove some of the mystery surrounding that language and help you feel empowered to start saving for retirement. After the course, you should have a clear understanding of insurance and investment products, from mutual funds to IRAs. The class challenges you to think logically about the risks and potential rewards of investing so you can make informed decisions.
Planancial is an online platform for free personal finance courses created by the woman behind the Future Rich podcast. The flagship course is also called Future Rich. The class lasts for seven days with quick videos that pair with a workbook. You can work through the class at your own pace, and the lessons are designed to be fun and engaging. At the end of the course, you should have a sense of the key strategies you need to build wealth. The completed workbook can serve as a great resource to help guide your financial decisions both now and in the future.