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One of the most pivotal parts of an individual's livelihood is learning about personal finance, a term used to describe how one manages their money. It essentially encompasses everything from how you earn and spend your money to how you save, invest and borrow it.
Despite its importance in our everyday lives, however, personal finance is a subject that historically has been left off school curriculums, though that's now changing. As a result, many adults today have been left without any sort of proper education or guidance as to how their finances actually work.
Thankfully, there's an abundance of resources available online, including blogs and YouTube channels, that break down the basics of personal finance to help anyone start learning. For a more organized approach, online courses also exist, taught by vetted industry professionals and experts who are just a couple of clicks away.
Below, Select outlines four free online personal finance courses that can help you kickstart your financial journey — and don't require much time.
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1. Udemy's "Personal Finance 101: Everything You Need to Know"
Udemy is a massive online educational resource covering various topics.
A good place to begin learning about personal finance is through its "Personal Finance 101: Everything You Need to Know" course. By watching animated videos, users can learn basic personal finance topics such as saving for college, retirement planning and the ins and outs of credit cards.
This three-hour class requires no prior knowledge of finance or statistics and will guide you with concise online lectures that are no longer than a few minutes each. More than 55,000 people are enrolled and reviewers are generally pleased with the content, giving the course an average rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars. You'll have to pay for a certificate of completion if you'd like one, but all the other course video content is available for free.
2. Skillshare's "My Financial Mountain: Understanding Your Path to a Solid Financial Foundation"
You may have already heard of Skillshare, as it's a popular online learning community offering all sorts of educational classes.
Though Skillshare is a subscription-based service, you can still sign up for a free trial and receive unlimited access to more than 35,000 classes. You can cancel the free trial at any time — once it elapses, you'll be charged $168 for the annual premium subscription plan.
We recommend beginners sign up for the free trial and take a course called "My Financial Mountain: Understanding Your Path to a Solid Financial Foundation" — it's only 24 minutes long and allows you to breeze through topics such as saving for the future and financial planning.
While it's definitely not a deep dive into personal finance and you won't receive a certificate for completing it, this class will help put first-timers on track to understanding the key concepts, since it also walks you through seven steps you can take to set up a strong financial foundation.
With an enrollment of about 850, this course exceeded 33% of reviewers' expectations and met 50%.
3. Alison's "Introduction to Managing Your Personal Finance Debts"
Alison — short for Advanced Learning Interactive Systems Online — is an education platform that offers free online courses with certificates and diplomas, though the latter are available for purchase. Users can use their programs to learn skills such as accounting, contract law, business management and graphic design, and there are loads of personal finance courses available.
One we suggest trying is Alison's "Introduction to Managing Your Personal Finance Debts," since so much of personal finance is related to balancing the different kinds of debt you may owe. This free course will teach you how to prioritize which debt to pay off first, how to organize your debts using a spreadsheet and how to negotiate interest rates with credit card companies, among other skills.
In 1.5 to 3 hours, you can learn about responsible debt management methods with the goal of preventing or alleviating personal debt problems. Along with the more than 40,000 people who are also enrolled, you'll earn a certificate and become an Alison Graduate by achieving an 80% or higher on all assessments.
Reviewers call this course "very informative" and "easy to follow," while it boasts a near perfect average five-star rating.
Those interested in learning more can take a look at Alison's free courses in wealth building, retirement savings, and financial freedom — all of which take under three hours to complete.
4. Coursera's "Create a Budget with Google Sheets"
Coursera is another digital educational course provider that's offered by some of the country's top universities and companies.
We especially like its "Create a Budget with Google Sheets" class, which teaches budgeting as well as how to navigate Google Sheets like a pro — let's face it, spreadsheets are the key to getting a good overview of your money.
In just one hour, you'll learn how to build, format and update your budget to help you reach your financial goals. About 8,000 people are already enrolled, and the course has an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.
While you won't get a certificate for completing this course, you will end up with a professional budget to help keep your finances in order.
Thanks to free online personal finance courses, such as the four we outlined above, anyone with internet access can learn about managing money from credible sources.
No matter how old you are or where you are in life, remember that it's never too late to educate yourself about the best money practices. Not only will doing so quite literally pay off, you also won't have to sacrifice much time to log on and learn.
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Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.