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Personal Finance Courses

Financial literacy consists of having the knowledge and skills to effectively manage your personal finances. It’s a basic requirement for success in today’s world, and yet one of the least-addressed by most people’s formal education. SmartAsset has looked at the available personal finance courses for 2022 and identified some of the best in terms of their potential ability to improve your financial literacy. Consider working with a financial advisor as you develop an investment, estate and retirement plan.

Bear in mind that any personal finance course designed for a general audience will necessarily address broad principles rather than specific situations. While general financial literacy is important, so is knowing and understanding your personal situation. Not every lesson will be relevant to every student and nothing in any personal finance course should be considered a mandate for any particular action.

Best Overall Course – Khan Academy Personal Finance

Khan Academy Personal Finance Course
Cost – Free
Instructional Method – Videos
– Text
– Quizzes
Information Level – Novice to advanced

This free online offering from Khan Academy is less an organized course than a large grab-bag stuffed with dozens of videos, interactive readings and quizzes on nearly all aspects of personal finance. Videos are of different lengths and courses can be taken in any order. Major topic headings include saving and budgeting, interest and debt, investment and retirement, taxes and saving for colleges. Under these, sub-topics address more specific matters such as, for instance, saving and budgeting advice for families, rent versus buy housing decisions, credit cards and loans and so forth. Each sub-topic contains from one to several videos addressing individual questions, such as how interest is calculated, managing a 401(k) plan through a job change and more.

Best Advanced Course – Finance for Everyone: Smart Tools for Decision-Making

edX Personal Finance Course
Cost – Free
Instructional Method – Video lectures
Information Level – Intermediate to advanced

A finance professor from the business school at the University of Michigan developed this course for edX, an online learning platform. It’s free if you just want to audit the course. Students can pay to have assignments and exams graded and earn a certificate of completion. Beginning with the time value of money, the course helps students analyze personal finance decision making when budgeting, investing and more. The main limitations are that it is intended for people who have a basic understanding of financial terms as well as high school-level algebra

Best Course for Retirement Planning – Planning for a Secure Retirement

Purdue University Personal Finance Course
Cost – Free
Instructional Method – Varies
Information Level – Intermediate

This course by Purdue University is heavy on the practical side. Rather than hours of video lessons or reading designed to build theoretical understanding, it connects students to a wide array of calculators, questionnaires and brief nuggets of information bolstered with links for more comprehensive explanations. The goal is to help students actually plan their own retirement from soup to nuts. Ten modules cover retirement topics ranging from getting ready to retire to post-retirement distributions

Best Course for Investors – Investing Classroom

Morningstar Personal Finance Course
Cost – Free
Instructional Method – Text-based lessons
– Quizzes
Information Level – Novice to advanced

This extensive curriculum from Morningstar.com encompasses 172 separate courses on investing in stocks, mutual funds, exchange-traded funds and bonds as well as techniques of portfolio construction. There’s no cost but you do have to register for a free Morningstar.com account. Registered students who accumulate enough credits by correctly answering quiz questions can exchange them for a free, 60-day membership that includes access to Morningstar’s trove of fund reports and analyst recommendations.

Best Course for Those Just Starting Out – Financial Planning for Young Adults

Coursera Personal Finance Course
Cost – Free
Instructional Method – Videos
Information Level – Novice

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign partnered with the CFP Institute to develop this course aimed at people just starting their careers and trying to learn to manage their money. Eight modules cover topics including setting goals, saving, budgeting and borrowing and the classes are presented over a four-week period. Topics covered include financial goal setting, saving and investing, budgeting, financial risk, borrowing and credit. It’s presented by Coursera, an online learning platform. Students must register to take the course, but only pay if they want a certificate of completion.

Best Paid Course – The Complete Personal Finance Course: Save, Protect, Make More

Udemy Personal Finance Course
Cost – $140
Instructional Method – Video lectures
Information Level – Novice to intermediate

This course offered by Udemy is taught by a university professor in 16 video lectures touching on virtually every topic in personal finance, from starting saving habits to constructing an investment portfolio and even minimizing investment fees. Along the way, students will be exposed to information on estate planning, investing using real estate investment trusts, taxes, insurance and much more. While the cost is not insignificant, Udemy does offer a 30-day money-back guarantee and the purchase includes lifetime access to the course materials.

Bottom Line

Personal Finance Courses

Knowledge about personal finance can be acquired by taking online personal finance courses. Many of these classes are free online offerings taught by highly qualified expert instructors including college finance professors. Classes are available for different levels of expertise. Some address specific goals, such as saving for retirement, or situations, such as just starting out.

Tips on Investing

  • Any time you’re facing an important personal finance decision, the insight of a financial advisor can prove invaluable. Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • Another helpful tool to use as you grow in your knowledge of investing is SmartAsset’s free investment calculator. This will help you determine what type of growth you’ll need to attain to reach your goal at any specific time.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/Charday Penn, KhanAcademy.org, edX.org, Purdue.edu, Morningstar.com, Coursera.org, Udemy.com, ©iStock.com/fizkes

Mark Henricks Mark Henricks has reported on personal finance, investing, retirement, entrepreneurship and other topics for more than 30 years. His freelance byline has appeared on CNBC.com and in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and other leading publications. Mark has written books including, “Not Just A Living: The Complete Guide to Creating a Business That Gives You A Life.” His favorite reporting is the kind that helps ordinary people increase their personal wealth and life satisfaction. A graduate of the University of Texas journalism program, he lives in Austin, Texas. In his spare time he enjoys reading, volunteering, performing in an acoustic music duo, whitewater kayaking, wilderness backpacking and competing in triathlons.
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