Top Online Personal Finance Courses

By

Brett Pechersky

|

March 4, 2020

As we mentioned in our blog, Why Take a Personal Finance Course, taking a class to get a foundational knowledge in money management can really make a difference. Not only can it positively impact your long term savings, but it can make you more confident in your abilities to decide when—and when not—to buy something a little frivolous. Proper money management doesn’t have to always be about frugality, but is more akin to building good habits.

Towards those aims, we have scoured the internet to find some of the top courses that will help lay the foundations for personal finance successes. From a wide range of institutions and costs, skill levels and intended outcomes, these are some of our favorites. 

A brief note about our methodology, here: as education and learning vary from person to person, we have chosen not to rank these. They have been listed in no particular order, so that our opinions do not influence your decision making.


Missouri State University - FIN 150

While the Missouri State FIN 150 videos look like they were put together before the advent of the modern internet, this brief series, available on YouTube, is nevertheless an extremely accessible way to learn the basics of personal finance. Over the span of eight videos, Roger Wallenburg takes his audience through the introductory stages of the financial world, from the most basic through slightly more complex ideas. 

Wallenburg’s instructions may be aimed at high school students, but the topics he discusses are applicable to all ages. His delivery can be dry at times, so if charisma is something you need in an educator in order to engage and learn, these may not be the easiest couple hours of your life. But again, their presence on YouTube means that you can skip ahead, go back to clarify or abandon them entirely without losing more than a little bit of time. With topics ranging from goal setting to budgeting, credit, insurance, time value of money, investments and annuities, this might be the easiest (and most anonymous) way to dip a toe into personal finance. 


Alison - Financial Literacy

Alison is an online free learning platform designed to help people advance in their careers and in their personal lives. Far more structured than the Missouri State video series, this back-to-basics course requires a suggested time of between six to ten hours, and includes a course completion certificate. Although the Financial Literacy course is free, it does require signing in with either an email address or through social media. 

Built around the idea of helping “attendees” better understand their financial situation, the “module” section does look quite daunting at first glance. Beginning with managing debt and introducing the various instruments to deal with/ consolidate debt and ending with an introduction to commodities and currency trading, the Alison course is nothing if not very broad in its scope. Each of the seven modules concludes with a quiz to test how much information students retained, and will be a nice benchmark for those of you who like a bit of reinforcement to cap off your lessons. 


Udemy - The Core Four of Personal Finance

Run by BrainyMoney and Son Han, the Cour Four of Personal Finance course is all about motivation. Pitched as a no-nonsense approach to making habits and setting goals, this program recognizes that the key to a successful financial strategy is hard work. Structured as a series of short lectures that introduce, then explain both the “core four” and their supporting ideas, the Udemy course includes four hours of on demand video, downloadable resources and two articles.

Currently running at $29.99, this high-intensity course boasts lifetime access to all materials. The structure is similar to many of the courses on this list, but Son’s high-energy approach to instruction will be perfect for those seeking an enthusiastic, and engaging teacher. 


Skillshare - The Core Four of Personal Finance

This might be a little redundant, as not only does this Skillshare course cover the same topics as the above, but it is taught by Son Han and BrainyMoney. Nevertheless, it is included here because of how massive Skillshare has become over the last few years. In case you already have a membership, taking this course would be included in that fee, so the $30 pricetag over at Udemy wouldn’t make sense for you. In the introductory video, Son claims that, “this class is only on Skillshare”, so there might be a few key differences in either the methodology or structure of the course as compared to his others. 

Touting a lot of the same claims of hard work and positivity, this Core Four class is made up of a series of videos, and concludes with two final “projects”. With over 6,000 students under its belt, this beginners-only class is definitely a crowd pleaser.


Open Learn - You and Your Money

Open Learn is a branch of The Open University, and “You and Your Money” is a free course they provide to study the finer points of personal financial management. With its sights set primarily on the ideas surrounding personal debt, this class hopes to teach its students how to properly manage their borrowing. Because it only covers the ideas surrounding debt, one could combine it with another, more broad course on this list to gain a greater understanding of borrowing before, say, buying a house or starting a business.

Structured in five modules with a sixth that serves as a wrap up, “You and Your Money” takes its participants from the most basic definitions of debt, up to deciding which products and services are best suited to make those life changing financial decisions. With this course, you will also learn how much debt costs, and when the amount of debt you “own” begins to do real harm to your personal finances. Although this course uses UK specific examples in its reading materials, the concepts and ideas that it presents are very universal, and can easily be translated to the US market. 


edX - Purdue University Personal Finance

This is the first of three courses on this list provided by an accredited university. As with most courses on this list, it is aimed at beginners, but uniquely defines them as people who see the stock market and its jargon all around them, but who are unable to participate in discussions of money and finance. Giving the example of watching Mad Money and being excited as Jim Cramer shouts “buy” or “sell”, without knowing exactly why he is shouting or why he is recommending either, Professor Sugato Chakravarty wants to help demystify the world of high finance. 

As this is a course from an accredited university, it is structured as such, and will require more time, over a longer period than the previous entries on this list. Students will need to devote three to four hours per week for five weeks in order to successfully complete the module. With topics ranging from investment vehicles to insurance [link to our insurance], this aims to give you a well rounded education in both personal and high finance. 


edX - MIT Foundations of Modern Finance I

The title alone makes this sound like a course from one of America’s top universities. This course will begin in April, and is part one of a two-part program. This is a lot more advanced than any of the other options on this list, as it is on MIT’s “MicroMasters” program, wherein, for a fee, your participation earns you credits towards a genuine Master’s degree (from MIT only). 

Probably reserved for those looking to go into a career in finance, this could also be quite a bit of fun for people looking to challenge themselves while seeing if MIT is really that different from any other school. Taking up quite a large chunk of time, Foundations of Modern Finance I runs for 12 weeks, and will require 10-14 hours of work per week. For an additional $450, you can add a certificate of completion with the MIT seal to show off on your wall, or to get shortlisted for that promotion at work. 


Coursera - University of Florida Personal & Family Financial Planning

The last of the courses offered by a brick-and-mortar university, this is certainly not the least. Though it is structured for beginners, throughout its length, students will learn almost everything there is to know about money. At least from a household point of view. Starting, as may of the others, from the definitions of financial terms, and going up through mutual fund investment strategy, this is an extremely comprehensive course.

Not only will Personal & Family Financial Planning get you the same education as a college course, it is entirely flexible to fit your schedule. Taught by Dr. Michael S. Gutter in a nine week structure, with the ability to purchase a LinkedIn-friendly certificate upon completion. Requiring approximately 13 hours of total time to complete, Coursera boasts that, after completion, 33% of participants reported a career change, and 25% a pay increase or promotion. 


Khan Academy - Investment vehicles, insurance, and retirement

This Khan Academy course is great first and foremost, because it combines the best parts of what got the other classes a spot on this list. Although it may not be for beginners, it follows a step-by-step model to teach lessons incrementally alongside instructional videos complete with whiteboard drawings and real-world examples. Covering the ins and outs of, as the title suggests, various investment vehicles and insurance types, this serves as a great introduction to how the financial world operates: giving you the basis you might need to make better choices about exactly where your money is going.

Because you don’t necessarily need to even subscribe to Khan Academy to watch the videos or learn from the course, it is as anonymous as Missouri State’s YouTube lectures. Registration is recommended, however, to save your learning progress and to make sure that you’ve covered every aspect of a certain topic before moving on to the next. 


Udemy - Personal Finance Mastery for (Young) Adults

The final entry on this list claims to be for young folks, but that’s mostly an unnecessary label used to appeal to students. This is another fundamentals course for beginners looking to get a better grasp on their spending habits. Walking its students through the basics of money management, budgeting and spending, Personal Finance Mastery takes a “list” approach to learning. Recognizing that people are very good at remembering steps, or key concepts, this promises to deliver concepts like, “10 Steps to master your financial destiny,” “the top 6 money mistakes to avoid” and “the top 7 habits of money management”

Currently available for $45 (44.99), this course includes 2.5 hours of on-demand video learning, lifetime access to the course, one-on-one time with its creator and a certificate of completion.


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