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Thursday, September 24, 2020

Financial Education During COVID-19: 16 Resources to Get Money Smart


Financial literacy is a lifelong pursuit. Research studies have shown that many people get smarter about personal finance through financial experiences (e.g., investing) and life events (e.g., home-buying). In addition to formal financial education programs in schools and at workplaces, people also learn about personal finance through self-directed learning.

Each weekend, I encourage my Twitter followers to learn one new thing about personal finance every day. Even during a pandemic, with limitations on travel and group meetings, there are many free or low-cost resources available for informal financial education. Listed below are 16 types of financial education resources to help you learn more about personal finance:

¨       Blogs- There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of personal finance blogs. Each year, the top financial blogs in various categories get recognized with Plutus awards. Search “personal finance blogs” online to find curated lists for “best personal finance blogs.” Subscribe for free to blogs that are of interest.

¨       Books- There are thousands of personal finance books. I know because I recently wrote one (Flipping a Switch) and regularly check its Amazon rankings. Search “personal finance books” and to find curated lists for “best personal finance books.” Free copies to borrow may be available at your local library.

¨       E-Learning Courses- Again, search online for curated lists of online personal finance courses such as Hands on Banking® (Wells Fargo), Investing for Your Future (Cooperative Extension), Personal Finance 101 (Udemy), Smart about Money (NEFE), and courses on the Coursera platform and from Khan Academy.

¨       Financial Advisors- Contact current or potential advisors with questions within their area of expertise. Some advisors provide free community programs at libraries (without a sales pitch!) or free initial consultations.

¨       Government Resources- Federal and state government agencies have high-quality financial education materials. A good place to start looking is www.MyMoney.gov, the website of the Financial Literacy and Education Commission. Resources are organized around five key topics called the “MyMoney Five.”

¨       Internet Key Word Searches- Sometimes, the best way to find the information that you need is to simply search key words and see what you find. Websites that are not useful may ultimately lead to those that are.

¨       Investment Clubs- These are formal groups of people who learn about investments together and pool their money to purchase a portfolio of stock. Many clubs have been meeting virtually during the pandemic.

¨       Magazines- Personal finance magazines include Barron’s, Business Week, The Economist, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, Forbes, and Money (available in digital format). Free copies to borrow may be available at your local library. Investment companies also produce magazines and the AARP magazine includes personal finance content.

¨       Newspapers- The Wall Street Journal is America’s leading personal finance newspaper. Large city newspapers also include significant personal finance content. Links to key stories are typically posted on social media.

¨       Online Quizzes and Calculators- Hundreds, if not thousands, of financial quizzes (see sample) and calculators are available to test financial knowledge and  “personalize” financial information (e.g., calculate potential savings).

¨       Podcasts- There are more than 550,000 podcasts available to download. Search “personal finance podcasts” online to find curated lists for “best personal finance podcasts.” Subscribe for free to podcasts that are of interest.

¨       Software and Apps- Search “personal finance software” (or apps) to find curated lists with recommended options. Since there are so many tools to choose from, curated lists are usually organized by category (e.g., budgeting and taxes).

¨       Talk Radio- Personal finance topics are covered on National Public Radio (NPR) and on individual radio station shows that feature both nationally known speakers (e.g., Clark Howard and Ric Edelman) and local financial experts.

¨       Television Shows- Search “personal finance television shows” to find curated lists with recommended options. Examples include Squawk Box  and The Profit (CNBC), Your Money (CNN), and Money Matters (RLTV).

¨       Twitter Chats- Engage in a synchronous “conversation” with others about a financial topic using a common hash tag (e.g., Experian’s #creditchat on Wednesday afternoons from 3 to 4 pm ET).

¨       Webinars- Find free personal finance webinars via the websites and/or social media posts of webinar sponsors. Many public libraries, such as the New York Public Library (NYPL), have been offering free webinars and archiving them.

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