12 Free Personal Finance Courses to Master Your Money in the New Year

 January 6, 2019
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From reading great works of literature to exploring the inner workings of the universe, you’re probably learning a lot as a college student.

But chances are, you’re not taking a class in personal finance.

Even though personal finance might not be on your curriculum, knowing how to manage your money is essential for college and beyond. By mastering the basics, you can create a workable budget, avoid credit card debt, get a hold on your student loans or even build wealth for the future.

Fortunately, online classes make it easier than ever to teach yourself the basics of budgeting or the ABCs of investing. Not only are these courses free, but some only require a few hours of your time and you can take them from the comfort of your own computer.

Ready to get started? Check out these 12 personal finance courses so you can become a money pro in the new year.

1. Making Sense Of Your Personal Finances, Udemy

This 1.5-hour course will give you a solid foundation in budgeting, saving and managing debt. It will teach you how to set S.M.A.R.T. goals and equip you with the tools to achieve your financial objectives.

What’s more, this course touches on the emotional side of money, so you can better understand your feelings around this complex subject.

Along with the video course, you’ll have access to nine articles and 11 downloadable resources to keep you on track toward your personal finance goals.

2. Finance for Everyone: Smart Tools for Decision-Making, edX

If you’re looking for a deeper dive into personal finance, consider this Finance for Everyone course from Gautam Kaul, professor of finance at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.

This six-week course is more time-consuming, calling for five to six hours of work per week, but you’ll gain a more comprehensive understanding of financial concepts and decision-making.

Along with discussing “the beauty and power of finance,” this course aims to teach you to make sound financial decisions in personal and professional situations.

3. Financial Literacy, Alison

Lasting between six and 10 hours, this course casts a wide net over all things personal finance. Along with learning the fundamentals of budgeting and savings, you’ll also get insight on managing debt and credit, using checking and savings accounts and planning for retirement.

At the end of the course, you’ll take an assessment to demonstrate your knowledge. As long as you score 80% or higher, you’ll get an Alison graduate certificate for your efforts (and more importantly, become an expert in managing your money).

4. Personal Finance Planning, edX

Taught by Sugato Chakravarty, a professor in Purdue University’s Department of Consumer Science, this five-week course has four main modules: investments, credit, insurance and retirement. Whether you’re looking to learn how credit works or how to maximize your retirement savings, this course will prepare you to handle your money strategically after you graduate and well into the future.

5. My Financial Mountain: Understanding Your Path to a Solid Financial Foundation, Skillshare

Maybe you don’t have that much time to devote to learning about personal finance, or perhaps you just want a refresh of basic concepts. In that case, check out this 24-minute course touching on important concepts, set out in quick-hit videos at up to three minutes each. It’s a great way to start thinking about income, savings and debt. Later, if you want a more detailed look into one or more of these topics, you could switch to a more robust course.

6. Investment Vehicles, Insurance, and Retirement, Khan Academy

Do terms like exchange-traded funds, Roth IRAs and 401(k)s make your head go fuzzy? If you want to learn more about investing, this Khan Academy course could teach you what you need to know.

From investing in mutual funds to saving in tax-advantaged retirement accounts, this course goes over the basics of investing and insurance, as well as prompting you to think about the risks and rewards involved.

7. Introduction to Managing Your Personal Finance Debts, Alison

This one-hour course goes over how to manage debt and pay it off fast. It will teach you how to devise an effective debt-elimination plan, as well as strategies for prioritizing which loans or credit card balances to pay off first. Along with helping you deal with credit card debt, this course could also teach you ways to handle your student loans.

8. Introduction to Simple and Compound Interest, Alison

If you’re curious about the difference between simple and compound interest, check out this short one- to two-hour introductory course on Alison. It goes over how interest is calculated — whether on a savings account, a credit card or a loan — so you can understand how your rate could earn or cost you money. It will also go over how to calculate simple and compound interest on your own so that you can, for example, estimate the long-term costs of your student loan.

9. Housing, Khan Academy

Even if home ownership seems years away, you can get an introduction to the home-buying process with this straightforward course from Khan Academy. It will teach you about home equity and mortgages, as well as discussing the pros and cons of renting versus buying. If you’d like to learn more about the financial side of housing, this course could be for you.

10. Financial Planning for Young Adults, Coursera

If you set aside three to four hours per week, you could finish this financial planning course from Coursera within a month. This comprehensive online course, whose instructors include educators from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, goes over financial goal setting, budgeting, borrowing, credit, saving and investing.

Along with viewing lectures, you’ll also watch examples of financial decision-making in real-world scenarios. After taking this course, you should have the tools to make savvy choices and reach your financial goals.

11. Managing My Money, Future Learn

This eight-week course is another solid option for those looking for a comprehensive introduction to money management strategies. It goes over financial planning, income and taxation, debt and borrowing and other topics essential to maintaining your financial health.

12. Understanding Loans, Udemy

Americans owe more than $1.48 trillion in student loans and over $1 trillion in credit card debt. Whether or not you have loans currently, it’s important to understand how loans and lines of credit work so you can avoid taking on burdensome debt.

This one-hour course from Udemy goes over secured loans, unsecured loans, term loans and revolving credit so you understand how each type of debt works.

If you’ve got student loans, you might also look into Udemy’s course, “Student Loan Debt: How to Pay Off Student Loans Fast.” Although this course isn’t free ($14.99 at the time of writing), it could be useful for learning about repayment options and ideas for boosting your income.

But on the other hand, you don’t need to pay money to find excellent student loan advice. Take a look around Student Loan Hero for almost anything you need to know about school debt, including this guide on how to choose the right student loan repayment plan or this one on how refinancing could save you money on your debt.

Take control of your money so it doesn’t control you

Even though you’ve got a lot on your plate as a college student, taking a few hours to learn about personal finance could be well worth the effort. If you don’t know how to track your spending or the best practices for using your credit card, you could make costly mistakes that burden your budget for years to come.

But by learning simple rules for managing money, you can feel confident you’re making the right financial decisions for your future. You might even learn some valuable money hacks that help you pay off your student loans ahead of schedule.

Need a student loan?

Here are our top student loan lenders of 2021!
LenderVariable APREligibility 
0.99% – 11.98%1Undergraduate

Visit College Ave

1.13% – 11.23%*,2Undergraduate

Visit SallieMae

0.99% – 11.44%3Undergraduate

Visit Earnest

1.50% – 11.33%4Undergraduate

Visit Ascent

1.12% – 11.23%5Undergraduate

Visit SoFi

1.15% – 11.01%6Undergraduate



Visit FundingU

3.80% – 9.36%8Undergraduate

Visit CommonBond

* The Sallie Mae partner referenced is not the creditor for these loans and is compensated by Sallie Mae for the referral of Smart Option Student Loan customers.

1 Important Disclosures for College Ave.

CollegeAve Disclosures

College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.

Rates shown are for the College Ave Undergraduate Loan product and include autopay discount. The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments. Variable rates may increase after consummation.

This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a freshman borrower who selects the Deferred Repayment Option with a 10-year repayment term, has a $10,000 loan that is disbursed in one disbursement and a 8.35% fixed Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $179.18 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $21,501.54. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary. This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a first year graduate student borrower who selects the Deferred Repayment Option with a 10-year repayment term, has a $10,000 loan that is disbursed in one disbursement and a 7.10% fixed Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $141.66 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $16,699.21. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary.

Information advertised valid as of 8/9/2021. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation. Approved interest rate will depend on the creditworthiness of the applicant(s), lowest advertised rates only available to the most creditworthy applicants and require selection of full principal and interest payments with the shortest available loan term.

2 Sallie Mae Disclaimer: Click here for important information. Terms, conditions and limitations apply.

3 Rate range above includes optional 0.25% Auto Pay discount. Important Disclosures for Earnest.

Earnest Disclosures

  1. Rates include 0.25% Auto Pay Discount
  2. Explanation of Rates “With Autopay” (APD)
    Rates shown include 0.25% APR discount when client agrees to make monthly principal and interest payments by automatic electronic payment. Use of autopay is not required to receive an Earnest loan.

    Available Terms
    For Cosigned loans – 5, 7, 10, 12, 15 years. 
    Primary Only – 10, 12, 15 years

    In school deferred payment is not available in AL, AZ, CA, FL, MA, MD, MI, ND, NY, PA, and WA).

4 Important Disclosures for Ascent.

Ascent Disclosures

Ascent loans are funded by Bank of Lake Mills, Member FDIC. Loan products may not be available in certain jurisdictions. Certain restrictions, limitations; and terms and conditions may apply. For Ascent Terms and Conditions please visit: AscentFunding.com/Ts&Cs.

Rates are effective as of 10/01/2021 and reflect an automatic payment discount of either 0.25% (for credit-based loans) OR 1.00% (for undergraduate outcomes income-based loans). Automatic Payment Discount is available if the borrower is enrolled in automatic payments from their personal checking account and the amount is successfully withdrawn from the authorized bank account each month. For Ascent rates and repayment examples please visit: AscentFunding.com/Rates.

1% Cash Back Graduation Reward subject to terms and conditions, please visit AscentFunding.com/Cashback. Cosigned Credit-Based Loan student borrowers must meet certain minimum credit criteria. The minimum score required is subject to change and may depend on the credit score of your cosigner. Lowest APRs are available for the most creditworthy applicants and may require a cosigner.

5 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

Sofi Disclosures

UNDERGRADUATE LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.13% to 10.66% annual percentage rate (“APR”) (with autopay), variable rates from 1.12% to 11.23% APR (with autopay). GRADUATE LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.13% to 10.90% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 1.10% to 11.34% APR (with autopay). MBA AND LAW SCHOOL LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.08% to 10.86% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 1.05% to 11.29% APR (with autopay). PARENT LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.23% to 10.66% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 1.20% to 11.23% APR (with autopay). For variable rate loans, the variable interest rate is derived from the one-month LIBOR rate plus a margin and your APR may increase after origination if the LIBOR increases. Changes in the one-month LIBOR rate may cause your monthly payment to increase or decrease. Interest rates for variable rate loans are capped at 13.95%, unless required to be lower to comply with applicable law. Lowest rates are reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. If approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, the repayment option you select, the term and amount of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. The SoFi 0.25% autopay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. Information current as of 4/1/2021. Enrolling in autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi. SoFi Lending Corp., licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. NMLS #1121636 (>www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org).

6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

Undergraduate Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 1.15% – 11.01% (1.15% – 10.24 APR)Fixed interest rates range from 4.18% – 11.70% (4.18% – 10.83% APR).

Graduate Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 1.89% – 10.66% (1.89% – 10.41% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 4.64% – 11.23%% (4.64% – 10.95% APR).

Business/Law Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 1.89% – 9.22% (1.89% – 8.50% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 4.38% – 10.44% (4.38% – 9.72% APR).

Medical/Dental Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 1.89% – 8.02% (1.89% – 7.72% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 4.28% – 9.24% (4.28% – 8.94% APR).

Parent Loan Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 1.97% – 7.06% (1.97% – 7.06% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 4.94% – 8.58% (4.94% – 8.58% APR).

Bar Study Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 4.44% – 9.58% (4.44% – 9.52% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 7.39% – 12.94% (7.40% – 12.83% APR).

Medical Residency Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 3.53% – 7.03% (3.53% – 6.76% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 6.99% – 10.49% (6.98% – 10.09% APR).

Variable Rate Disclosure: Variable Rates are based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of June 1, 2021, the one-month LIBOR rate is 0.09%. Variable interest rates will fluctuate over the term of the loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. The maximum variable rate is the greater of 21.00% or Prime Rate plus 9.00%. 

Fixed Rate Disclosure: Fixed rate ranges are based on applicable terms, level of degree, and presence of a co-signer.

Lowest Rate Disclosure: Lowest rates require a 5-year repayment term, immediate repayment, a graduate degree (where applicable), and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Rates are subject to additional terms and conditions, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.

Federal Loan vs. Private Loan Benefits: Some federal student loans include unique benefits that the borrower may not receive with a private student loan, some of which we do not offer.  Borrowers should carefully review federal benefits, especially if they work in public service, are in the military, are considering possible loan forgiveness options, are currently on or considering income based repayment options or are concerned about a steady source of future income and would want to lower their payments at some time in the future. When the borrower refinances, they waive any current and potential future benefits of their federal loans. For more information about federal student loan benefits and federal loan consolidation, visit http://studentaid.ed.gov/. We also have several resources available to help the borrower make a decision on our website including Should I Refinance My Student Loans? and our FAQs. Should I Refinance My Student Loans? includes a comparison of federal and private student loan benefits that we encourage the borrower to review.

Eligibility Criteria: Applicants must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or eligible non-citizen with a creditworthy U.S. citizen or permanent resident co-signer. For applicants who have not attained the age of majority in their state of residence, a co-signer is required. Citizens Bank reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at any time. Citizens Bank private student loans are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application/Promissory Note, verification of application information, and if applicable, self-certification form, school certification of the loan amount, and student’s enrollment at a Citizens Bank participating school.

Loyalty Discount Disclosure: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower or their co-signer (if applicable) has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower and their co-signer (if applicable) have submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, or other student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, and VT and some products may have an associated cost. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate disclosed in the Loan Approval Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.

Automatic Payment Discount Disclosure: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. Discount is not available when payments are not due, such as during forbearance. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account three or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.

7 Important Disclosures for Funding U.

Funding U Disclosures

Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are made by Funding University which is a for-profit enterprise. Funding University is not affiliated with the school you are attending or any other learning institution. None of the information contained in Funding University’s website constitutes a recommendation, solicitation or offer by Funding University or its affiliates to buy or sell any securities or other financial instruments or other assets or provide any investment advice or service.

8 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.

CommonBond Disclosures

Offered terms are subject to change and state law restriction. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900), NMLS Consumer Access. If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown.  If you choose to complete an application, we will conduct a hard credit pull, which may affect your credit score. All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 0.15% effective Jan 1, 2021 and may increase after consummation.