Everyone wants to get smarter about money, but not everyone knows where to start. That’s why we’re here! Whether you are starting with the basics or want to dive into the deep end with more advanced skills, there are plenty of resources that can help you learn – and many are also fun and entertaining! I have some strategies and sources to help you sort through the noise and get your financial knowledge flowing.
Set a game plan
Getting your money house in order can seem daunting, especially if it’s not something you have done in the past. But don’t be intimidated, you truly can learn anything! There are amazing resources to help at every stage. And the great thing about learning on your own is that you can go at your own pace and try different approaches to see what works best.
If you aren’t sure where to start, do a self-assessment. What money topics are you most motivated to learn about? Maybe making a budget and tackling debt is top of mind, or maybe you want to better understand what your investing choices are.
Once you’ve chosen a topic, think about your lifestyle and your learning style. If you’re back in the office with a long commute, podcasts or audiobooks could be a great fit for you. Or maybe you’re a written-word person who loves to highlight a physical book (call me old school, but this is me!). Whatever your style, there are plenty of resources out there that will work for you.
Find reliable resources
Start with sources you know are reliable. Sounds obvious, right? Look for industry-leading websites and newsletters, industry experts and resources with a long track record. For example, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has a website with consumer education resources on topics like mortgages, credit cards and student loans. Other reputable organizations, local and national, offer free courses in different areas of financial literacy that can also be used to build your baseline knowledge.
Once you know the basic facts, you can branch out into sources that offer advice, gut-checking each expert’s take against what you already know.
Influencers: Understand the why
Online influencers are often one of the easiest places to learn about a subject you know nothing about. They can be good for motivating you to get started. They feel relatable because many of them are self-taught. They can be part of your learning process, especially when you are figuring out what you want to learn.
As you watch various influencers, just keep a few things in mind. Often their advice is based on their journey, which you can learn a lot from, but information and advice may not be easily applied to your journey. Additionally, when it comes to learning about money, some influencers will have an agenda. They may have paid partnerships with brands they discuss, which means some of their recommendations might not be completely innocent. They are participating in a $13 billion industry to make a livelihood. Before you start learning from a particular source, it can be beneficial to do some digging to figure out how they get paid. Ask yourself: What makes this person an expert? Do they have any certifications, such as a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation? Will they benefit from you choosing to buy any product they’re recommending?
Here are some of my favorite sources for getting better with money:
- The Psychology of Money, by Morgan Housel, focuses on how our beliefs and habits shape our approach to personal finance – and how to make better choices.
- Thinking in Bets, by Annie Duke, explores how to make better decisions in the face of uncertainty.
- You Are a Badass at Making Money, by Jen Sincero, starts with mindset and discusses how to change your financial life from the inside out.
- A Piece of the Action, by Joe Nocera, is a deep dive into the history of credit cards, IRAs, and other financial products that have changed the way America’s middle class manages money.
- Articles from yours truly! On everything from money tips on saving, budgeting, travel, career and investing, plus sign up for my emails.
- The How to Money podcast with Joel and Matt is a down-to-earth podcast on personal finance topics, focusing on common issues like paying down debt and starting to invest. You can feel the passion Joel and Matt have for helping others to financial success as you listen.
- NPR’s Planet Money podcast tackles seemingly complex topics like inflation or the supply chain in a simple, entertaining way.
- The Financial Grownup podcast with Bobbi Rebell shares personal finance advice from high-achieving guests from all walks of life.
- The On Purpose with Jay Shetty podcast tackles broader self-help topics like relationships, anxiety, and work-life balance through insightful conversations with experts.
Lindsey Bell, Ally’s chief markets & money strategist, is an award-winning investment professional with a passion for personal finance and more than 17 years of Wall Street experience. Bell’s unique ability to connect the dots between data and real life and craft bite-sized money ideas that people can use and apply stems from her deep background as an analyst, researcher and portfolio manager at organizations including J.P. Morgan and Deutsche Bank. She is known for demonstrating why and how an understanding of all things money improves a person’s finances and overall well-being. An ongoing CNBC contributor, Bell empowers consumers and investors across all walks of life and frequently shares her insights with the Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, Kiplinger’s, Forbes and Business Insider. She also serves on the board of Better Investing, a non-profit focused on investment education.