From reading great works of literature to exploring the inner workings of the universe, you’re probably learning a lot as a college student.
But chances are, you’re not taking a class in personal finance.
Even though personal finance might not be on your curriculum, knowing how to manage your money is essential for college and beyond. By mastering the basics, you can create a workable budget, avoid credit card debt, get a hold on your student loans or even build wealth for the future.
Fortunately, online classes make it easier than ever to teach yourself the basics of budgeting or the ABCs of investing. Not only are these courses free, but some only require a few hours of your time and you can take them from the comfort of your own computer.
Ready to get started? Check out these 12 personal finance courses so you can become a money pro in the new year.
1. Making Sense Of Your Personal Finances, Udemy
This 1.5-hour course will give you a solid foundation in budgeting, saving and managing debt. It will teach you how to set S.M.A.R.T. goals and equip you with the tools to achieve your financial objectives.
What’s more, this course touches on the emotional side of money, so you can better understand your feelings around this complex subject.
Along with the video course, you’ll have access to nine articles and 11 downloadable resources to keep you on track toward your personal finance goals.
2. Finance for Everyone: Smart Tools for Decision-Making, edX
If you’re looking for a deeper dive into personal finance, consider this Finance for Everyone course from Gautam Kaul, professor of finance at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.
This six-week course is more time-consuming, calling for five to six hours of work per week, but you’ll gain a more comprehensive understanding of financial concepts and decision-making.
Along with discussing “the beauty and power of finance,” this course aims to teach you to make sound financial decisions in personal and professional situations.
3. Financial Literacy, Alison
Lasting between six and 10 hours, this course casts a wide net over all things personal finance. Along with learning the fundamentals of budgeting and savings, you’ll also get insight on managing debt and credit, using checking and savings accounts and planning for retirement.
At the end of the course, you’ll take an assessment to demonstrate your knowledge. As long as you score 80% or higher, you’ll get an Alison graduate certificate for your efforts (and more importantly, become an expert in managing your money).
4. Personal Finance Planning, edX
Taught by Sugato Chakravarty, a professor in Purdue University’s Department of Consumer Science, this five-week course has four main modules: investments, credit, insurance and retirement. Whether you’re looking to learn how credit works or how to maximize your retirement savings, this course will prepare you to handle your money strategically after you graduate and well into the future.
5. My Financial Mountain: Understanding Your Path to a Solid Financial Foundation, Skillshare
Maybe you don’t have that much time to devote to learning about personal finance, or perhaps you just want a refresh of basic concepts. In that case, check out this 24-minute course touching on important concepts, set out in quick-hit videos at up to three minutes each. It’s a great way to start thinking about income, savings and debt. Later, if you want a more detailed look into one or more of these topics, you could switch to a more robust course.
6. Investment Vehicles, Insurance, and Retirement, Khan Academy
Do terms like exchange-traded funds, Roth IRAs and 401(k)s make your head go fuzzy? If you want to learn more about investing, this Khan Academy course could teach you what you need to know.
From investing in mutual funds to saving in tax-advantaged retirement accounts, this course goes over the basics of investing and insurance, as well as prompting you to think about the risks and rewards involved.
7. Introduction to Managing Your Personal Finance Debts, Alison
This one-hour course goes over how to manage debt and pay it off fast. It will teach you how to devise an effective debt-elimination plan, as well as strategies for prioritizing which loans or credit card balances to pay off first. Along with helping you deal with credit card debt, this course could also teach you ways to handle your student loans.
8. Introduction to Simple and Compound Interest, Alison
If you’re curious about the difference between simple and compound interest, check out this short one- to two-hour introductory course on Alison. It goes over how interest is calculated — whether on a savings account, a credit card or a loan — so you can understand how your rate could earn or cost you money. It will also go over how to calculate simple and compound interest on your own so that you can, for example, estimate the long-term costs of your student loan.
Even if home ownership seems years away, you can get an introduction to the home-buying process with this straightforward course from Khan Academy. It will teach you about home equity and mortgages, as well as discussing the pros and cons of renting versus buying. If you’d like to learn more about the financial side of housing, this course could be for you.
10. Financial Planning for Young Adults, Coursera
If you set aside three to four hours per week, you could finish this financial planning course from Coursera within a month. This comprehensive online course, whose instructors include educators from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, goes over financial goal setting, budgeting, borrowing, credit, saving and investing.
Along with viewing lectures, you’ll also watch examples of financial decision-making in real-world scenarios. After taking this course, you should have the tools to make savvy choices and reach your financial goals.
This eight-week course is another solid option for those looking for a comprehensive introduction to money management strategies. It goes over financial planning, income and taxation, debt and borrowing and other topics essential to maintaining your financial health.
12. Understanding Loans, Udemy
Americans owe more than $1.48 trillion in student loans and over $1 trillion in credit card debt. Whether or not you have loans currently, it’s important to understand how loans and lines of credit work so you can avoid taking on burdensome debt.
This one-hour course from Udemy goes over secured loans, unsecured loans, term loans and revolving credit so you understand how each type of debt works.
If you’ve got student loans, you might also look into Udemy’s course, “Student Loan Debt: How to Pay Off Student Loans Fast.” Although this course isn’t free ($14.99 at the time of writing), it could be useful for learning about repayment options and ideas for boosting your income.
But on the other hand, you don’t need to pay money to find excellent student loan advice. Take a look around Student Loan Hero for almost anything you need to know about school debt, including this guide on how to choose the right student loan repayment plan or this one on how refinancing could save you money on your debt.
Take control of your money so it doesn’t control you
Even though you’ve got a lot on your plate as a college student, taking a few hours to learn about personal finance could be well worth the effort. If you don’t know how to track your spending or the best practices for using your credit card, you could make costly mistakes that burden your budget for years to come.
But by learning simple rules for managing money, you can feel confident you’re making the right financial decisions for your future. You might even learn some valuable money hacks that help you pay off your student loans ahead of schedule.
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