Free Online Financial Education Resources

by Dual Income No Kids on October 7, 2009 · 0 comments

One of the best things about the internet is the abundance of free resources in every topic imaginable. In fact, when I’m coding my best friend isn’t my old textbooks but Google; everything imaginable has a Wikipedia page or an online community dedicated to it.
And as we all get older and become more entrenched in our day to day lives it becomes harder and harder and more unreasonable to go back to a university (or even community college) and study a subject of interest. First of all, most of us have heavy time constraints due to full time jobs or family commitments. I’m currently finishing up a Master’s program and it has been quite taxing; evening classes, homework, exams, projects… At times the stress of handling the institutional educational requirements (getting good grades, attending meetings, figuring out how to pay for everything) has overshadowed the actual benefit that I’m gaining from what I’m learning. And although I don’t regret going back to school at all, the stress has taken its tole.
In addition to the stress of attending an institution and going through that process, there’s the issue of paying for it all. Even with the limited educational assistance I’ve received from my employer I’ve still managed to add to the family’s student loan debt obligations. My situation is a bit unique; I didn’t exactly apply myself during my undergraduate studies and my GPA reflected that. Because of my substandard GPA, the public schools in my area rejected me because I didn’t fit their stated application requirements.

Although it may seem counter-intuitive, a private school in my area did accept me after an exhaustive screening process and a trial semester and I’ve done my best to make the most of this opportunity, resulting in a graduate GPA significantly higher than my GPA ever was in undergrad. Regardless of the distinctive features of my situation, it’s not uncommon for adults returning to school to incur more debt, adding to the stress of the situation and making the prospect of further education less attractive and more difficult.

Fortunately, we can leverage the power of the internet to further our education while reducing the stress, time commitment, and financial obligation. I’m not talking about online Universities, but rather, Open Courseware Initiatives. One of my favorite blogs and daily reads is The Big Picture and the author recently had a post on Online Ivy League Classes, which I was thrilled to see.

I love the idea of an open-education system. Although they may never replace institutions as far as reputation and research capacity is concerned, I think they’re an excellent resource for anyone wishing to better themselves, particularly those in disadvantaged situations where institutionalized education may not be a viable option.

I’ve been a fan of MIT’s Open Courseware Project for a long time; I’ve often used their Computer Science and Electrical Engineering lectures for my own benefit both with my job and with my Master’s research. MIT has an excellent selection of Economics courses that I’ve browsed and plan on going through their Economics program more extensively at a later date.

If you haven’t already, I suggest you take a look at both Barry Ritholtz’s post at The Big Picture on Online Ivy League Economics courses and MIT’s OCW. The internet offers a vast number of resources in every topic imaginable, particularly I’ve found with personal finance and economics.

Readers: What are your thoughts on online educational resources? Has anyone used these resources before and found them helpful? Are there any other online resources that anyone has used before?

-Michael
Twitter: @michael_dink

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