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Finances and the life course

Week 1 guide
MARTIN UPTON: I’m Martin Upton, director of the True Potential Centre for the Public Understanding of Finance based at the Open University Business School. Before working for Open University, I spent 12 years as treasurer to Nationwide Building Society. I’ll be your guide for this course. Ask yourself, how does the type of person you are affect the decisions you make? Are you your own worst enemy when it comes to money? Do you know how taxation affects you and how the changes to government benefits affect you? Do you need to worry about interest rates or inflation? Do you know how decisions made by the government and the Bank of England affect you?
Regardless of how much you may already know, whether you’re a student or young family, starting your first job or planning your retirement, living on benefits or banking your bonus, you’ll learn how to make the most of your money. You’ll see how the big news stories about the economy, taxation and interest rates affect your household accounts. You’ll learn how behavioural traits and social pressures affect your financial decisions, and you will learn lifelong practical skills using UK data and real life examples. All of the issues covered are pretty well universal wherever you live. As you work through the course, packed with high quality audio and video, you’ll find easy-to-use tools, expert discussions and bags of practical guidance.
You’ll become equipped with the skills to create your own personal action plan. With real incomes falling in recent years, record low returns on savings, and people facing the prospect of working ever longer to get a decent pension, there’s never been a more important time to take control of your personal finances. At the end of each week, you’ll have the chance to gauge how much you’ve learned in a test. Your score from these weekly tests will be added to the results of a longer test you’ll take in the final week.
By the end of the course, not only will you have picked up some fantastic knowledge, but you’ll also have developed skills that will be really useful for further studies in finance. We have a group of experts who respond to and moderate discussions. Please join in and share ideas. You can post comments on anything in the course along the way. So week one, let’s start by looking at how you can structure your financial planning. We’ll look at a model that can be applied routinely when making financial decisions. We’ll also start to explore a theme that we’ll return to throughout the course, how financial resources and needs change throughout the course of our lives. Enjoy the journey.

Martin Upton is your Lead Educator and guide through the course. He is Director of the True Potential Centre for the Public Understanding of Finance, based at The Open University Business School. He’ll meet you at the start of each week to tip you off about highlights and challenges, to remind you of what you’ve learned and to help you make the most of these four weeks of learning to manage your money.

As the course progresses you’ll also meet our team of mentors, who will respond to your comments and questions.

This course is one of eight available in the Business and Finance Fundamentals program. Successful completion of all eight (as evidenced by upgrading and receiving a Certificate of Achievement for each course when you become eligible each course) can lead to academic credit at Level 1 of The Open University’s Business Management BA degree, subject to registration and separate fee for a linked Open University assessment module.

Your financial profile

Some of the coolest features of the course are the financial challenges, planners and calculators you get to explore throughout the course. See how you score in the financial bad habits test, build up your personal budget and develop your own ‘fact find’ to take away at the end of the course. Your fact find is available to use throughout the course as a record of your goals and financial circumstances. You can download it now so that you’re ready to use it later this week. Record your own details and, if you wish, those of your partner.

This fact find is different from the documents you complete when acquiring financial products like investments and mortgages. The fact find for ‘Finance Fundamentals: Personal financial planning and budgeting’ is intended to provide a full summary of our personal financial circumstances. When acquiring specific financial products, your financial adviser or financial product provider (e.g. your bank) will only require details about your financial circumstances that are relevant to the financial product you are intending to acquire.

A note about financial advice

This course provides the information, frameworks and financial planning guidance needed to manage your finances and to assist in making financial decisions.

However, course contents do not constitute ‘advice’ with regard to which specific financial products you should use or which financial services providers you should do business with. Consequently the course educators and facilitators cannot answer questions about matters relating to such financial advice.

If you need specific individual financial advice, you should contact an authorised financial firm or financial adviser.

This course has been adapted from original material created by The Open University’s True Potential Centre for the Public Understanding of Finance, and was made possible thanks to the generous support of True Potential LLP.

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Finance Fundamentals: Financial Planning and Budgeting

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