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16 Ways to Get Smart About Personal Finance

October 2020

Barbara O’Neill, Ph.D., CFP®
Distinguished Professor and Extension Financial Management Specialist Emeritus
Rutgers Cooperative Extension


Financial literacy is a lifelong pursuit. Research studies have shown that many people get smarter about personal finance through financial experiences (e.g., investing) and life events (e.g., home-buying). People also learn a lot through self-directed learning. One small step to get “money smarter” is to learn a new financial fact every day.

Below are 16 categories of resources to help you learn more about personal finance:

  • Blogs: There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of personal finance blogs. Search “personal finance blogs” online to find curated lists for “best personal finance blogs.” Subscribe for free to blogs that are of interest.
  • Books: There are thousands of personal finance books. Search “personal finance books” and to find curated lists for “best personal finance books.” Free copies to borrow may be available at your local library.
  • E-Learning Courses: Again, search online for curated lists of online personal finance courses such as Investing for Your Future (Cooperative Extension), Personal Finance 101 (Udemy), and Smart about Money (NEFE).
  • Financial Advisors: Contact current or potential advisors with questions within their area of expertise. Some advisors provide free community programs at libraries (without a sales pitch!) or free initial consultations.
  • Government Resources: Federal and state government agencies have high-quality financial education materials. A good place to start looking is, the website of the Financial Literacy and Education Commission.
  • Investment Clubs: These are formal groups of people who learn about investments together and pool their money to purchase a portfolio of stock. Many clubs have been meeting virtually during the pandemic.
  • Magazines: Personal finance magazines include Barron's, Business Week, The Economist, Kiplinger's Personal Finance, Forbes, and Money (available in digital format). Free copies to borrow may be available at your local library.
  • Newspapers: The Wall Street Journal is America's leading personal finance newspaper. Large city newspapers also include significant personal finance content. Links to key stories are typically posted on social media.
  • Online Quizzes and Calculators: Hundreds, if not thousands, of financial quizzes (see sample) and calculators are available to test financial knowledge and “personalize” financial information (e.g., calculate potential savings).
  • Podcasts: There are more than 550,000 podcasts available to download. Search “personal finance podcasts” online to find curated lists for “best personal finance podcasts.” Subscribe for free to podcasts that are of interest.
  • Software and Apps: Search “personal finance software” (or apps) to find curated lists with recommended options. With many tools to choose from, curated lists are usually organized by category (e.g., budgeting and taxes).
  • Talk Radio: Personal finance topics are covered on National Public Radio (NPR) and on individual radio station shows that feature both nationally known speakers (e.g., Clark Howard and Ric Edelman) and local financial experts.
  • Television Shows: Search “personal finance television shows” to find curated lists with recommended options. Examples include Squawk Box and The Profit (CNBC), Your Money (CNN), and Money Matters (RLTV).
  • Twitter Chats: Engage in a synchronous “conversation” with others about a financial topic using a common hash tag (e.g., Experian's #creditchat on Wednesday afternoons from 3 to 4 pm ET).
  • Webinars: Find free personal finance webinars via the websites and/or social media posts of webinar sponsors. Many public libraries, such as the New York Public Library (NYPL), have been offering free webinars and archiving them.
  • Websites: Sometimes, the best way to find information that you need is to simply search key words online and see what you find. Websites that are not useful may ultimately lead to those that are. The Rutgers Cooperative Extension Personal Finance website has dozens of worksheets, publications, and other educational resources.