25 Open Courses for a Complete Personal Finance Education

Let’s face it, as a country, we Americans are incredibly stupid with money. Our national debt is in the trillions, we’re reeling from taking on mortgages we can’t afford, sometimes on top of thousands of dollars in credit card debt and student loans, and yet, everyone seems to have an iPhone or a brand new TV. Somehow, things aren’t adding up, and America desperately needs financial education. Fortunately, there are plenty of educational institutions that are happy to help out, and they’ve shared a wealth of personal finance knowledge online for you to access and learn from. Basic courses in personal finance, investment, and even entrepreneurship can give you the education you need to make smart money decisions, so be sure to check out these incredibly helpful, and free, courses.

  1. Introduction to Economics

    Your personal finance education isn’t complete until you understand how your own economic situation relates to the world of finance. Through this course, you’ll get a basic understanding of the principles, history, and functions of economics worldwide. This course is great for learning more about inflation, unemployment, standards of living, and even the inner workings of the banking system. [Utah State University]

  2. Khan Academy Lessons in Personal Finance

    Khan Academy does not offer a formalized finance course, but there are so many great video lessons available, we just can’t ignore this great resource. You can piece together your own excellent personal finance education course with video lessons like Renting vs. Buying, Hedge Fund Strategies, and Home Equity Loans. [Khan Academy]

  3. Money Makes the World Go Round

    Money is important, that we know. But this course delves further into the idea of money and its role in our lives. Through these lectures, you’ll learn about passion and its relation to money, doing what you love, the role of psychology in finance, and even the influence of professional money managers. [Academic Earth]

  4. Economics in Education

    There’s a pretty simple and clear path from education to personal finance: typically, the more education you have, the more you’ll earn. This course delves into that idea and beyond, discussing the impact of education on earnings, the rate of return on education, and even mid-career training. If you’re weighing the possibility of continuing your education, this is a can’t-miss course to check out. [MIT]

  5. Family Finance

    This course from Utah State University hits the nail on the head for personal finance, sharing methods and theories that are essential to personal finance within the family unit. Within the course, you’ll learn how to identify values and establish financial goals, create and implement plans to meet your values and goals, and evaluate how it all works together to create a secure financial future throughout your life. Assignments cover nearly every important task in family finance, from tracking your income and expenses, doing taxes, budgeting, comparing credit cards, insurance claims, and even reducing expenses. This course is essential to learning about basic financial health for you and your family. [Utah State University]

  6. Love Your Money

    Money can be a scary thing, but this course from the University of Tennessee will help teach you how to love your money. Take this course to measure your financial health, learn how to spend less while saving more, track your money, build an emergency fund, and invest for the future while avoiding financial fraud schemes. This course offers a simple, and even fun way to assess your financial situation and get on the right track to enjoying money instead of fearing it. [University of Tennessee]

  7. Consumer Law

    Believe it or not, consumers are actually pretty powerful, now more than ever. Online reviews and social media, combined with outspoken consumers means that consumers are increasingly determining the success and failure of companies. But in addition to the power of opinions, consumers are protected by laws regulating businesses. Check out this course to learn about the role of laws as they regulate businesses in favor of consumers. [Nottingham]

  8. Fundamentals of Personal Financial Planning

    Another solid course on the basics of personal finance from the University of California Irvine, this resource can make you a better consumer of financial planning advice. Use this course to better understand how you can manage and plan for all of your financial affairs, including insurance, taxes, investing, retirement, and estate planning. Modules will take you through financial goals, assessment, investment basics, funding of both retirement and education, and even estate planning basics for the future. Although this course is not designed to replace professional financial planners who can help you map out your personal financial future, students can use this course as a basic tool for identifying, defining, and reaching financial goals. [University of California Irvine]

  9. Financial Security for All

    Planning right now for your future is essential to financial security later in life. This course offers a variety of lessons that will help you get on the road to stable financial success, including investing in your future, communicating advanced directives, planning for a secure retirement, and using financial calculators and tools. The course even offers a lesson in recovering after bankruptcy. Use this course to find important lessons for securing your financial future. [Texas A&M]

  10. Debt and Borrowing in its Wider Context

    Just about everyone is, or knows someone who is, in debt. Credit cards, student loans, cars, and more all add up, and some people just can’t get out from under it. The fact is that debt can keep you from owning a home, saving for the future, and healthy financial growth, bad news for your financial future. In this course, you can learn about the different types of debt, and find information that can help you stay out of bad debt while planning for a positive financial future.

  1. Financial Markets

    Financial institutions have been making the news lately, and often not in a good way: so many are failing and taking the economy right down with them. Why should you take the time to learn about sinking ships? Because like it or not, you’re probably going to have to do business with them anyway, and it’s much better to know what you’re getting into. In this Yale course, Professor Robert Shiller gives you an in-depth look at these institutions and how they work, so that you can better understand your relationship with them as a consumer. Check out Shiller’s lectures to learn about how they support society and learn about how they’ll be evolving by discussing the theory of finance in relation to the way banks and other financial institutions work. [Yale]

  2. Financial Theory

    This course may be a little more in-depth than most people need for personal finance, but if you’re really in to learning more about your money, this is a great resource to check out. Follow along to learn about the financial system within the global economy through lectures that cover interest, social security, uncertainty and risk, and even mortgage prepayments. [Yale]

  3. Real Estate Economics

    You’ve got to live somewhere, whether it’s an apartment you rent, a house you own, or any of the many options in between and beyond. Understanding the forces at work in real estate economics can help you better understand trends, figure out what kind of living situation is right for you, and even time the market for a home purchase if you choose to do so. Discussions cover residential development, “edge cities,” retail development, and different methods of analysis concerning real estate markets and their growth. [MIT]

  4. Real Estate Finance and Investment

    If you’d like to step things up a notch in real estate and go beyond “homeowner” into the realm of “investor,” this course is a great resource to check out. You’ll learn about concepts, principles, and resources for analyzing real estate investment decisions. The lectures cover cash flow, opportunity cost of capital, tax considerations, and more, all designed to help you become a more informed investor when it comes to getting started in the real estate market. [MIT]

  5. Planning for a Secure Retirement

    It is never to early to start thinking about your retirement. This course from Purdue will help you start looking forward to retirement rather than dreading the thought, giving you the tools and knowledge necessary to retire when you want. Follow these modules to plan ahead for a comfortable retirement, with lessons for goals, activities, and resources that can help you put things in motion. [Purdue]

  1. LinkedIn: Risk and Entrepreneurship

    Are you considering an entrepreneurial venture? You should know that doing so comes with a certain amount of risk. Stanford professor Reid Hoffman explains in this course that entrepreneurship is a high risk investment, but with controlled risks, plenty of measurement, innovation, and even social networking, success can follow with limited risk. [Stanford]

  2. Global Meltdown: Fraud in the Financial Crisis

    It’s no secret that in recent years, the world and the U.S. in particular has experienced a serious financial crisis. Exceptionally bad financial transactions, bailouts, business failures, and a major decline in consumer wealth has led to a severe global economic recession. Professor Henry Pontell explains some of the possible criminal roots of the crisis, and we recommend checking out what he has to say so that you can avoid becoming a victim of financial fraud in all its forms.

  3. Understanding the Financial Crisis

    This course further explores the financial crisis, calling on experts to share an understanding of the financial crisis, and how it can be managed. Lectures focus on real estate vulnerability, human error and fraud, long-term investing, and what we can learn from financial crisis. [Academic Earth]

  4. Economic History of Financial Crises

    Financial crisis is certainly nothing new in economic history. This course offers a historical perspective on financial panics, including the Great Depression, oil crisis, and even more recent conditions. Definitely check it out to understand more about what’s happening today through the problems of yesterday. [MIT]

  5. Investments

    In recent years, many investors have seen plummeting portfolios, but the fact is that with sound strategies over the long term, you should be able to make a good deal of money off of investing. In this course, you’ll learn about sound investment decisions that rely on financial market knowledge, analytical thinking, and even mathematical models. Lectures cover important topics in investment, including risk management, portfolio theory, and different methods for investing, including hedge funds and commodities. With the knowledge from this course, you can set out as an exceptionally informed investor. [MIT]

  1. Investing for Your Future

    Even if you’re a beginning investor with small dollar amounts, you’ve got to get started somewhere if you want to invest for your future. This course is designed to help jump-start your investment portfolio, helping you learn about the basics of financial management and investing, including how you can find money to invest. The course covers different types of investment, including ownership investments, mutual funds, and tax-deferred investments. You’ll also find units on investing small dollar amounts and getting help through resources and financial professionals. Overall, this course offers a comprehensive look at investment for those who are just getting started, and especially those who would like to begin investing even in small amounts. [Texas A&M]

  2. Investment Decisions

    This course is designed for business investment, but it’s a great resource for personal finance as well. You’ll learn about choosing great investment opportunities, managing resources, and systematically making the best decisions. Lessons include financial forecasts, math in finance, and the investment decision, offering a comprehensive course on investment that anyone can appreciate. [IE]

  3. Investment Risk

    Investors these days may be a little risk-averse, but in a strong market, risk often leads to the greatest reward. With the right knowledge, you can strike a good balance between risk and reward for the best return with the smallest possibility of failure. Take this course to learn about the risk factors that are at work when you make investment decisions, and consider how you can apply mathematical methods and knowledge to your own investments. [Open U]

  4. Investing for Farm Families

    As the name of the course suggests, this course is designed to teach farm families about investments. But even if you’re not in a farm family, you can find excellent resources for financial learning within the course. Learning lessons include investment strategies, asset allocation, and evaluation of investment products, in addition to general personal finance topics including planning for financial security later in life, estate planning, organizing important household papers, retirement planning, and investing for your future. [Texas A&M]

  5. Living a Good Life

    Money can’t buy you happiness (or can it?), but the presence of money or lack thereof can certainly skew your idea of whether or not you’re living a good life. Find some perspective and learn about “the good life” from this course, whether you’re rich, poor, or somewhere in between. [Academic Earth]

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