Staying on top of your personal finances can be tricky. Take, for example, the millennial generation, which is approximately $1 Trillion in debt, most of which comes from student loans. The current situation is such that these people, already entering their 30s, are putting off homeownership, marriage, and starting a family. But, they’re also making significant changes to their lifestyle and managing to stay on top of the economy by reevaluating priorities and becoming more educated in terms of finance.
If this is something you’re striving for as well, the good news is that there are numerous free online resources you can learn from. Personal finance advice is now available to anyone willing to roll up their sleeves and make a few lifestyle changes. From social platforms such as Instagram and YouTube to specialized websites and printed or electronic books, you’ll find that a lot of these resources come completely free.
The following are the best of those learning sources, giving you invaluable advice without having to spend a single penny.
1. Google Play / App Store
Let’s start with something most people reading this article already have access to – a smartphone. Regardless of whether you use your phone for becoming Instagram-famous, hunting down Pokemon, or organizing every aspect of your work and personal life, adding a budgeting app is unquestionably going to have a positive impact on your personal finances.
There are numerous options to choose from, but our favorites include Mint and Dave Ramsey’s EveryDollar. Both are free to download (although paid premium versions are also available), and they can help you start with the very basics: tracking your income, spending, debt, and having a clear picture of how much you actually have. It’s a great way to see whether you’re too frivolous in certain aspects of your life or if there are areas where you can afford to spend more.
2. Online learning platforms
The great thing about this day and age is that we can find a host of great information, as long as we’re willing to look for it. Online learning platforms such as Udemy, Skillshare, Masterclass, and Coursera have already done a huge deal to change the way we learn. And there’s plenty of courses for those looking to become experts at personal finance.
Although not all of these platforms are entirely free, you can definitely find lots of information you won’t have to pay for. For example, Coursera currently offers several free courses you can access as long as you have an account. Although you won’t get a certificate at the end of the several-week period, you’ll still get a lot of useful information from reliable resources, including the University of Florida or the University of Illinois.
3. Communities and blogs
A fantastic way to learn and do research is to find an online blog or community that offers personal finance guidance. Whether you’re looking for career advice, want to learn a few savings hacks, or just want to become educated about products and services (and thus prevent yourself from falling for scams), these websites can be a great tool.
But, they do come with a downside. They’ll often prioritize their own earnings before your financial health, which is why you must choose a trustworthy resource. A good rule of thumb is to stay away from any resource that doesn’t include clear and visible affiliate statements, as well as to exercise caution with blog posts that promise to get you rich in six months (especially popular on Pinterest and social media platforms).
4. Finance gurus & financial news channels
If you don’t have the time for an online course but still want to become familiar with the basics of personal finance, you can find a lot of handy information online. Financial advisors who have made a name for themselves by writing books on the subject, as well as news channels that predominantly focus on finance and politics, can be a great place to learn.
CNN, for example, has an entire platform called Money Essentials dedicated to everyday people who want to become familiar with basic concepts such as savings, budgeting, credit cards, and debt. They offer excellent advice on retirement planning, as well as on buying a home or investing.
You can also check out the MyMoney.gov website, which is aimed at increasing access to financial services to all Americans. Lastly, you can make use of popular financial strategies that have been tried and tested by millions of people around the world.
5. Podcasts and YouTube
Although you may be accustomed to using these multimedia channels for entertainment, you can actually use them to find a lot of great information about personal finance without having to spend a single cent.
Content creators on these platforms mainly make a living through monetization (those advertisements you see/hear during a video or podcast episode), so you won’t have to worry as much about falling prey to a scam. Generally, the more subscribers a creator has and the more high-quality content they produce, the bigger their income will be. For the user of this content, the advice comes free of cost.
You can find a ton of information by doing a simple search for “personal finance,” or you can start with some of the more popular creators and navigate your way from there. For those who lead busy lives, podcasts are especially recommended as you can listen to them on your commute to work or while exercising at the gym. Two of our absolute favorites in this category include the BiggerPockets Money Podcast and Planet Money. Both tackle a wide variety of current financial topics and how they’re influencing everyday people.
Handling personal finances can be an intimidating task, especially if your knowledge is limited. But fortunately, you don’t have to become an expert on the stock market to lead a stable, debt-free life. All you need to do is to become familiar with your current habits, allot time for budgeting, and collect a few reliable resources you can consult regarding any information you may find yourself needing in this process.
Once you’ve got a hold of the basics, of course, you can take a few steps further and look for ways to multiply what you have. Whether this is through investing or trading options, again, make sure you choose a reliable source of information, and that you always exercise caution.