February 25, 2017

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Five Free Courses For Managing Your Finances


The miracle of the human mind isn’t its ability to change. It’s the mind’s ability to decide to change. And it doesn’t have to be a costly decision. The internet provides us with so many resources that, these days, the only real investments required for learning new skills or tasks are time and effort.

Time and effort appear to be in abundance, what with all of the YouTube tutorials teaching everything from kissing techniques to “how to be emo.” But when it comes to financial management,  it can take near-bankruptcy for some people to admit that they haven’t been diligent enough in managing their financial assets. But, as the old saying goes- the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. The second is taking a free online course.

If you’re one of the many people who would like to improve your financial management skills, both professional and personal, I’ve compiled a short list of free, online resources to help you do just that.

Course #1:  Money 101 from CNN Money

CNN Money provides us with a great starting point. This “course” provides 22 lessons covering everything from saving for college and buying a car to investing in mutual funds and planning employees’ benefits. The lessons are casual articles, with great tips, helpful suggestions, and advice worth heeding.

Course #2: Fundamentals of Personal Financing from the University of California Irvine

OpenCourseWare has done an amazing job with this course. The site runs smoothly, the information is presented cohesively, and the content is thorough. The topic here is personal financing, but within that framework, the course covers everything from organizing and assessing your immediate financial situation (creating a cash-flow statement and doing taxes) to planning for your great escape (funding your retirement) and eventual demise (estate planning). If personal finances are an area where you’re looking for improvement, I highly recommend checking out this resource.

Course #3: Financial Management from MIT

Take a trip through time, to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology circa 2003. MIT offers all the essentials for you to relive this Graduate class on Financial Management.

From the course description: “Financial Management studies corporate finance and capital markets, emphasizing the financial aspects of managerial decisions. It touches on all areas of finance, including the valuation of real and financial assets, risk management and financial derivatives, the trade-off between risk and expected return, and corporate financing and dividend policy. The course draws heavily on empirical research to help guide managerial decisions.”

You can download the lecture notes, take the exams, even do the homework assignments. Unfortunately, they don’t provide you with the answers. If you’re like me, though, it won’t matter. There’s no way you’ll get these questions right.

That’s because, while you can essentially take an entire MIT graduate course without the ivy-league tuition, it’s an MIT graduate course. So most of it looks like this:

If you’re up to the challenge, more power to you. Moving right along…

Course #4: The Financial Management Training Center

This answer is incorrect.

The Financial Management Training Center, based out of Washington D.C., offers 20 free courses on financial management, with topics ranging from cash flow management to financial forecasting.  They even offer short, timed exams. The site’s a little glitch-ridden (I had trouble changing my answers on the exams) but it’s a fine introduction to the concepts.

Course #5: Financial Management for For-Profits from Free Management Library

Free Management Library presents this look at business-oriented financial management. Less a cohesive course in Financial Management and more a collection of concepts, resources, and links, this site is wonderful if you’re looking for a myriad of articles, opinions, and viewpoints.  Along with some of the basic topics you’d expect, such as financial planning and proper bookkeeping, there are also sections for topics like “Cutting Costs” and “Financing Major Purchases.” If you’re a new business owner, and you’re feeling a little lost, poke around the Free Management Library a bit. Chances are, you’ll find something that leads you down a new path.

Good luck! And if you find any resources I missed, send them my way.

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