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Five online courses to improve your personal finance skills

Money is a necessity of life, so it’s good to be financially aware. We look at five courses that will teach you to manage your money better!

Personal Finances

Personal finance matters because we use money every day to pay our rent, buy groceries, and earn money. Unfortunately, many of us aren’t as clued up about personal finance and managing money as we could be.

Let’s take a look at what personal finance means and learn some of the best ways to improve your money habits. We’ve handpicked five of our best personal finance courses to help you inform yourself about some of the most important financial concepts out there.

What is personal finance?

Personal finance is about the money that belongs to you. It requires a slightly different approach to other forms of finance. Handling the finances of a large multinational business is not the same as managing your own savings and outgoings.

What is financial literacy?

Financial literacy refers to our understanding of financial concepts. If you understand how interest rates work, or what money supply is, then you are probably financially literate. Some financial concepts are more relevant to day-to-day life than others, so if you’re looking to build your financial literacy, look for the concepts that matter to your personal finances.

Financial literacy is distinct from numeracy, which refers to your ability to do basic maths. The latter is very useful when tracking your spending and generally makes finance less intimidating. Ideally, you’ll have skills in both areas.

If you’d like to get started learning the basics of finance, check out our blog on the most fundamental financial question: What is money?

Why is personal finance important?

In another post, we discuss whether we should teach financial literacy in schools. In it, the London Institute of Banking and Finance’s report, the Young Persons Money Index, found that young people are more anxious about their personal finances (rising from 67% in 2021 to 81% in 2022), while 72% of children wanted to learn about finance in school, rising to 85% for those aged 17-18.

Many children today get their financial education from members of the family, rather than from their schools. Unfortunately, not all family members are financially literate themselves which can lead to passing on bad habits.

Can money make you happy?

In our open step, ‘Does money make you happy?’, the University of Bristol looks at some of the research linking money and happiness. The consensus appears to be that it does: up to a point. 

One of the studies referenced in the open step is research by Richard Easterlin at the University of Southern Carolina. He concluded, “If society’s goal is to increase people’s feelings of well-being, economic growth in itself will not do the job,” he wrote. “Full employment and a generous and comprehensive social safety net do increase happiness.

Easterlin was among the first economists to study happiness as an economic resource, back in the 70s. But perhaps the most famous research on the relationship between wealth and happiness comes from Daniel Kahneman and Angus Deaton, whose Nobel-prizewinning research determined that money correlates with happiness up to around $75,000 per year (or around $90,000 in today’s money).

How personal finance skills are useful

If you know your way around personal finance, you’ll find it easier to sustain that income, feel secure, eliminate finance-related stress, and generally improve your quality of life.

Financial literacy is also very important if you want to start your own business. Read how to manage a small business during the pandemic or how to turn your hobby into a career to find out more.

Understanding personal finance means learning about:

  • Savings
  • Retirement
  • Debt management
  • Financial freedom

In our Money Mindset open step from Welltodo’s course in Job Opportunities in Wellness, we learned that many of us feel like money is too boring or complicated to understand. Getting over these psychological barriers can make the difference between a rewarding financial life and a stressful one.

We all face different financial challenges at various stages in life. If you’re budgeting while at university, your approach will be different than if you’re working as a trader or speculating on the crypto market

How to improve your financial literacy

So, how can you boost your personal finance knowledge? There are many great ways to learn more about finances in your every day. These are some simple, effective tips that can help you on your way to good financial habits.

Top five online personal finance courses

On FutureLearn, you’ll find plenty of online courses in finance and business. Let’s take a look at five courses to help you improve your personal finance skills today.

1. Finance for Everyone: Smart Tools for Decision-Making by the University of Michigan

Throughout your life, you’ll face thousands of financial decisions. Should you rent, or should you buy? Should you go to university? How much time should you devote to volunteer work? When it comes to your finances, making the right call can make a big difference. Especially if you’re making them consistently. 

Understanding your personal finances will allow you to make sensible decisions when it comes to spending, saving and investing. This course is designed to provide just that understanding.

The world of finance can be intimidating, especially if you’re on the outside looking in. This course provides a gentle introduction, also accessible as an open step. For some, it’s a basis to grow and develop a career in finance. For others, it’s a source of useful information, relevant to your day-to-day spending.

2. Starting a Business 5: Managing Finances by the University of Leeds

If you’re launching a new business, it’s easy to neglect the financial side of things. But many new businesses fail for exactly this reason. Problems with capital, cash flow and pricing can all spell trouble. A good grounding in finance is the solution. That’s the focus of this course. 

Covering just four hours over two weeks, it focuses on how finances are measured and presented. You’ll look at forecasting, including profit and loss, cash flow, and sales revenue. This information can be interpreted and analysed, and it can ultimately inform future decisions in your business. While the focus of the course lies explicitly with business finance, many of the principles can be applied elsewhere in your personal life. 

The University of Leeds has also created courses on the importance of money in business and published an interesting article that discusses the background of financial corporate scandals.

3. Introduction to Home Ownership and Mortgages by the Chartered Insurance Institute

Want to get on the property ladder but can’t quite get your head around how mortgages work? You’re in the right place. As a first-time potential property owner, the process of buying a home can seem incredibly daunting and complex.

However, this four-week course from the Chartered Insurance Institute provides a clear and simple introduction to the different elements involved in the property buying process. 

You’ll learn the ins and outs of how mortgages work and complete the course feeling better equipped to handle your property purchase with ease. With guidance and support from your expert educators, you’ll be empowered with the confidence and knowledge to secure a mortgage best suited to your needs.

4. Understanding Public Financial Management: How Is Your Money Spent? By SOAS

It isn’t just businesses and individuals who spend money. Governments do it too – often on behalf of businesses and individuals. Knowing what it is they’re doing can make a big difference to your understanding of your own financial life.

Here, the School of Oriental and African Studies provides an overview of government taxation and spending. You’ll learn to judge which policies are desirable and ethical, and get to grips with the nuts and bolts of public sector finances. Raising government finances, how budgeting works, and public sector financial statements: they’re all covered.

If you already know a little about economics, political science, or accounting, then you’ll be at an advantage, here – but the course is targeted toward a general level. 

5. Principles of Wealth Management by Hanken

The principles outlined in this course can be applied just about everywhere. Market crashes, diversification, risk and return – learning about these will allow you to make better decisions on how to invest your earnings.

This is the most specialised course and to get the most from it, you’ll need to be a Bachelors’s or Master’s student, or a professional in the wealth management industry.

Boost your personal finance by starting today

Without learning the basics of finance, it’s easier to fall into financial struggles or not get the most out of your hard-earned money. With these courses on FutureLearn, you’ll be well on your way to feeling more confident about your personal finances.

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