There is no one-size-fits-all plan for improving your financial literacy. A good plan should be tailored to financial decisions you’re facing today and fit the way you learn best.
Whether you learn best sitting on the couch with your dog, or chatting with your friends over coffee, we’ve got you covered.
Whatever your terms are, there are a variety of educational resources to help you get a solid financial education.
Financial Literacy Books
When was the last time you gained knowledge or a new skill from a book? Some of us have never forgotten the joys of reading, or how satisfying it can be to read for the sake of knowledge. Books (and audiobooks) allow you to pick the speed, the place, and the curriculum.
The only problem with financial literacy books is that there are almost too many great options to choose from. We like GOBankingRates’ list of 31 personal finance books as a thought-starter. You can also check out Liz Weston’s favorite financial books for a recommendation, or search for book reviews on sites like Amazon, GoodReads, and Audible.
Attending a workshop or lecture series in person is a great option for those who learn best through a face-to-face interaction. These workshops allow you to participate, ask questions, and even meet new people.
Opportunities will vary based on your location, but you might want to check out national organizations like the National Financial Educators Council or Money Management International. Or, check your local library! The American Library Association is encouraging all local libraries to participate in Money Smart Week (which is April 22-29 this year).
Free College Courses
Student loan debt might be one motivation towards improving your financial literacy. Fortunately there are plenty of open online courses that you can take for free. In some cases, you might have to pay a small fee for graded coursework. Either way, you should be able to make your way through collegiate level education without piling on additional student debt.
USA Today recommends five courses to check out. They range in topics from “Behavioral Finance” to “The Art of Negotiation.”
If you’re looking to learn at your own pace, but still need a bit of structure in terms of the curriculum, there are plenty on online tutorials and self-guided resources that you can use for free! We recommend checking out Ally Wallet Wise for free online courses and tools, or similar sites like MyMoney.gov and CNN Money Essentials.
For those who would rather sit back and listen, check out a financial podcast. Similar to an audiobook, a podcast requires minimal effort from you, the listener, but can still provide quality information. You can find a podcast based on your specific areas of interest: budgeting, investing, entrepreneurship, and more.
Many people shy away from discussing financial situations with even the closest of friends. But there’s no need to. Discussing your finances with a friend you trust could be eye-opening. You can learn from each other, share tips, and figure out solutions together. If nothing more, you might be able to relieve some financial stress by relating to each other or talking through an issue.
As an added benefit, a study conducted by the NEFE found that 85% percent of respondents believed that having a buddy can help with achieving financial goals. Having someone to understand your goals and help to hold you accountable can really make a difference.
Does Traditional Financial Education Work?
According to research, the results are mixed.
Some experts believe that financial education tends to work best if we can apply it to our life right away. This type of learning is sometimes referred to as just-in-time education — meaning you focus the information that’s applicable to the financial issues you’re facing today.
The downside of learning about financial principles too early is that we’re all human, and we forget. There is also research to suggest that financial education in school, for students K-12, doesn’t necessarily make those students better financial decision makers as adults. However, when adults (20 years or older) were given financial education that was more relevant to issues they’ve personally experienced, the education seemed to improve their ability to make sound financial decisions.
The bottom line is that we all learn differently. With all things considered, you’ll have to find the financial resources that are right for you!
Are you working on your financial literacy? What resources have you found helpful? Share your advice for others in the comments below.