I wasn’t taught about money in school and most of you probably weren’t either. Much of what I learned came from observing what took place in my household. We were a frugal family—we shopped with a list, coupons and a calculator and bought in bulk. But whether or not you learned to balance a checkbook in school or were taught by your parent(s) about monitoring your credit report, creating saving goals, tracking expenses, or retirement planning, it’s never to late to learn how to manage your money and protect and grow your financial future. Financial literacy programs vary state to state, but I’ve compiled a list (that we’ll continue to grow) of free personal finance resources that you can find online or in your community to help you on your journey to becoming financially fit. If you know of any others tweet me @LaToyaReports and I’ll add them to the list. Your local library When’s the last time you visited your local library? With e-books and the internet many times we forget what a great learning resource the library is. They have become a trusted, unbiased and credible resources for financial education. For example, at the New York Public Library I often attend Money Matters workshops through their Financial Literacy Central center. Money Matters offers free classes on retirement planning, investing in stocks, interpreting financial statements, budgeting, how to deal with identify theft and more. They also provide free credit counseling, financial planning and tax assistance. If your local library doesn’t have these services, keep reading. Here are some other options. Your local bank Although most banks have online articles and workbooks to help its customers take charge of their personal finances, I find Bank of America and Capital One 360 to have some great tutorials. In April, Bank of America and Khan Academy joined forces to provide both bank customers and non-customers free, self-paced, easy-to-understand interactive videos on budgeting, debt reduction, how to calculate tax deductions and other courses to help you develop better money habits. Capital One 360 (formerly ING Direct) offers free savings events at its eight cafe’ locations in Chicago; New York; Philadelphia; Los Angeles; Honolulu, Hawaii, St.; Cloud, Minnesota; Wilmington, Delaware and San Francisco, California. They have six financial literacy programs such as KidzBank for elementary school aged students and The Financial Scholars Program which provides interactive, web-based lessons on saving and budgeting, loan management, bank accounts, credit scores, stock and bonds, credit cards, paying taxes and the choice between home-ownership and renting. MoneyWi$e, a national financial literacy partnership with Capital One 360, offers free multilingual financial education materials, curricula and teaching aids with regional meetings and roundtables to train community-based organization. For other programs check out their financial education page. Wells Fargo partnered with the United Negro College Funds’ Empower Me Tour creating workshops geared toward college age students and parents on planning and saving for college. All workshops are free, but require registration. For a list of tour dates check out the schedule here. Your local credit union Credit unions are not-for-profit financial institutions and offer some great information on money management, borrowing, as well as financial education services for your children. Some of the lessons have become very interactive and make it easy for even the busiest customer. For example, BrightStar Credit Union in Fort Lauderdale, FL created “Listen and Learn” podcasts that you can download to your computer or MP3 player. Your States Financial Empowerment Center Not all states have a financial empowerment center, but New York; Nashville, TN; Philadelphia, PA; Denver, CO; Lansing, MI; and San Antonio, TX are part of the Cities for Financial Empowerment (CFE) Fund. The $3.3 million grant is funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Project and provides clients with free one-on-one counseling and guidance on issues such as debt management, how to deal with debt collectors, improving credit, building savings, how to find safe and affordable financial products and other services based on client needs. FDIC Money Smart The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation offers free online computer based instruction (CBI). The CBI features a game-based learning design and separate learning tracks for adults and young adults. The adult learning track features the 11 modules in the instructor-led Money Smart curriculum for adults. The young adult learning track (age 13 and older) features the eight modules in the Money Smart for Young Adults curriculum. MoneySKILL.org The website isn’t too inviting, but MoneySKILL is a free online reality based personal finance course for young adults developed by the AFSA Education Foundation. Students experience an interactive curriculum as both written text and audio narration. The 36-module curriculum, with pre- and post -tests, covers topics such as income, expenses, assets, liabilities and risk management. A life simulation module asks students to project their own financial life expectancies in areas such as employment, housing, transportation, education, marriage, family and retirement allowing them to incorporate the MoneySKILL personal finance concepts into their everyday lives. Investopedia University These online tutorials by Investopedia require a lot of reading. If you’re the type of learner that needs more visual or in-person training, this may not be the best resource for you. But the information is thorough and offers easy to follow tutorials on the basics of investing, trading and retirement planning. Do you know of any other free financial literacy seminars, conferences, or online tutorials? Let us know. Need a boost? Enter our Financial Fitness Contest for a chance to win $2,000 and a one-hour session with a certified financial planner.
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