Your Financial Situation
Throughout this course, you will learn how to use basic financial planning tools that you can work into your everyday routine. In this first lesson, you will examine your personal finances as they are today, set some basic financial goals, learn how to keep track of your finances, and gain some knowledge of record-keeping requirements. You will learn how to assess your current financial position. The information you compile during this lesson, and the methods you use to retain and store that information, can set the tone of your financial record-keeping for the rest of your life.
The Daily Grind: Earnings, Bills, and Taxes
If you think about your cash flow in terms of how to best control the money that comes in and goes out of your life, you may discover that you have many opportunities to improve your financial situation. This lesson focuses controlling certain aspects of your income collection and disbursement through daily financial events. You will learn about methods for increasing the amount of money at your disposal, saving money when paying your bills, and reducing your tax burden.
Don't be discouraged if your credit history is marred. Despite what you might think, you can establish good credit, control your credit rating so it remains positive, and repair a bad credit rating. This lesson teaches you how to read your credit history, correct errors in your credit reports, and improve your credit so that you're a good risk to potential lenders. Find out what creditors look at when they judge your credit, and how you can check your own credit rating for free.
The Art of Borrowing
Whether you intend to borrow money for a long term (as you might with a mortgage on a house), a medium term (such as a loan for a car or a college education), or a short term (such as using a credit card to pay for a dinner at a restaurant or your weekly groceries), there are factors about borrowing that you should consider. In this lesson, you will get the tools to make informed decisions about borrowing. You will learn about the concept of points or loan origination fees. Finally, you will find out how borrowing money can actually benefit you when tax time comes.
Creating and Living with a Budget
In the most popular lesson of the course, you will learn how you can create a workable budget and, more importantly, how you can make it stick. A budget is not difficult to make, and it's not difficult to follow. In fact, people who use budgets find they can talk about their finances and their financial goals more comfortably because they have a thorough knowledge of what they can actually achieve. A budget is like a playbook for the future.
Investing in Mutual Funds
In this lesson, you will learn about the different types of mutual funds, criteria for choosing a fund, how much to invest, the importance of timing your investments, when to sell, and the tax effects of your investment. You will find out the advantages to investing in mutual funds, including diversification, the opportunity to take advantage of a fund manager and a research team's expertise, the small minimum investment required to enter a fund, and the ease with which you can make regular investments.
Investing in Stocks
This lesson introduces financial advisors. You will find out why it's so important to follow the performance of your investments. You will also discover how to manage your portfolio, the tax effects of buying and selling investments, and how you can manage the amount of tax you pay. You will also learn how to compare companies that you want to invest in.
Other Types of Investing
If you want to invest, there are several different types of opportunities available to you. In this lesson, you will explore some of the places beyond stocks and mutual funds where you can invest your money, including interest-bearing accounts, bonds, commodities, precious metals, and collectibles. You will discover that you can begin investing with a very small amount of money, and you will find out how to familiarize yourself with different types of investments before putting your money at risk.
In this lesson, you will get acquainted with the many types of insurance and how the purchase of insurance should fit into your overall financial plan. Your needs for insurance change throughout your life, so you will learn how and when to reassess your insurance coverage. You will also learn some tips on dealing with insurance agents and shopping around for the best value and the best coverage.
Planning for Your Retirement
Retirement might seem like it's a long way off, but it's never too early to start thinking about it. In this lesson, you will get familiar with the various types of retirement funds available to employees, business owners, and individuals; and you will learn about putting money into retirement funds, overseeing the investments in those funds, and when and how to take money out of your funds. You will also find out how the Social Security system works and the tax effects of retirement contributions and distributions.
Life's Big Expenses
There are certain occasions in life that require a major cash outlay. Events like weddings, purchasing a house or a car, or going to college require planning and saving. In this lesson, you will discover tips for estimating the costs of major purchases, as well as techniques for saving and borrowing to finance these expenses. You will also see what tax benefits are available when you incur these large expenses. You will learn about some of the different options for parents and students who are planning on, or are already attending, college.
In the final lesson of the course, you will learn about estate planning and some of the basic rules that will guide you in making important decisions. In addition, you will get an introduction to inheritance and estate taxes, trusts, and other means of protecting your assets, as well as information about the duties of an executor for your estate.