5 Sites to Learn Personal Finance Basics and Manage Your Money
Saving money, getting out of debt, and becoming wealthier are among the most common goals, especially for New Year’s resolutions. How do you start? These websites will point you in the right direction.
Personal finance management is a core skill that every adult should have. But to manage your money, you need to first know how you think about finances, and the best ways to approach different aspects like debt and investment. From a university-backed free online course to a police officer’s simple guide for laymen, here’s how to get a better handle on your bank.
1. Witsmo Checkup (Web): What Is Your Money Belief?
Lessons and advice in our childhood often shape our attitude towards money well into adulthood. Witsmo has devised a questionnaire to find out your “Money Belief” and give you advice accordingly.
It’s an online quiz much like many personality quizzes, with about 10-15 questions. Each statement has six answers, ranging from Strongly Agree to Strongly Disagree. Based on your responses, the app will categorize you among four types of Money Beliefs: Worship, Avoidance, Vigilance, Status.
For each Money Belief, there is a quick description of behavior as well as recommendations for how to handle your finances. WitsMo is an app that offers paid sessions with financial consultants, so you can expect it to push those services, but the checkup is free.
Money Beliefs are also commonly known as Money Scripts, based on a study by Dr. Bradley Klontz. You can read more about it in this Forbes article.
2. McGill Personal Finance Essentials (Web): Free Online Course by University Professors
How you handle personal finance can drastically affect your life. But for some reason, schools don’t teach you this essential life skill. So McGill University put together a free online course to understand everything you need to know about personal finance.
The course is broken into eight modules: introduction, debt and borrowing, your money, strategic budget building, investing (two parts), real estate, and behavioral finance. Each module is about 20 minutes in length, followed by review tests. All classes and tests are available for free online.
This is a learn-at-your-own-pace course, so you don’t need to attend classes at a particular time. That said, it accepts limited registrations, so sign up before the course gets filled. It can get Canada-specific at times, but largely, this is sound financial advice for anyone.
3. Halfdollar (Web): Free Budgeting Spreadsheet and Community
If you want to save money, you need to know where you are spending it unwisely. The first step to better financial management is to create a personal budget. Halfdollar, one of the best sites to save money and set budgets, has a new avatar where it offers a free spreadsheet template for budgets.
Often, these spreadsheets can be intimidating or overwhelming. How do you fill in the data? What if you do something wrong? The creator, Derek Torsani, has made Halfdollar as simple and foolproof as possible for beginners. If you accidentally try to edit a cell that will break formulas, it prompts you not to change it.
Torsani also made an excellent eight-minute video where he explains each aspect of Halfdollar and how to use it. You have to understand the spreadsheet’s approach of adding labels to every income and expenditure and breaking it down by frequency. Do it consistently and you’ll have an excellent overview of your finances.
Halfdollar also has a Slack community of others in the same boat, discussing budgeting and finances. If you’re trying to make financial management a personal goal, this is the type of supportive forum to discuss your doubts without judgment.
4. Vital Dollar’s Money Saving Challenges (Web): Free Printables to Save Money
Goals are easier to achieve when you break them into smaller steps or even turn them into micro-challenges . If your goal is to save more money, then try one of these 13 money-saving challenges collected by Vital Dollar.
These are basic techniques like the 52-week challenge, in which you save just a single dollar in the first week. In week two, you save $2, and $3 in week three, and so on for the full year. At the end of 52 weeks, you’ll save $1378. Not too shabby, right? Vital Dollar developed five variants of the 52-week challenge too.
All of the money-saving challenges come with a free printable PDF, which you can use to track your progress. Obviously, you shouldn’t do multiple challenges at the same time. Pick one that suits your money outlook so that you’re likely to stick to it. It’s one of the smartest ways to save a substantial amount of money by doing small steps.
5. Arrest Your Debt (Web): Personal Finance Strategies for the Layman
Ryan Luke, a police officer, has a passion for helping people figure out personal finance. His blog Arrest Your Debt has some of the simplest writing you’ll find about complex topics, which can help you get back on track financially.
The bulk of the website is about getting rid of debt. Luke guides you through various stages and strategies to ensure you live a debt-free life. A good starting point is the Debt Payoff Playbook, which shows how to plan towards going debt-free, execute it, and then start saving so you aren’t in debt ever again.
Through his simple explanations, you’ll find it easier to choose between Debt Snowfall or Debt Avalanche methods, or figure out an emergency fund before starting your debt payoff.
As with any personal financial advice blog, after debt comes budgeting, saving money, and investing. All of these have separate sections on the website. Being a father of three, Luke also has a section for Family Finance to run a family on a single income.
Check Free Online Calculators and Tools
These websites give great advice on finances. Some others focus on giving automated tools that will do the money-related calculations for you.
Some apps figure out how much you should save every month to meet a goal, others track your different online subscriptions. There are a bunch of money-based calculators worth checking out in our roundup of the best apps to save money and reduce spending .