We boomers all think we know more about money issues than we really do. So maybe, we need a little help with our finances.. But who wants to go to a financial planner? Even those who charge by the hour and do not take commissions can still cost you a pretty penny. Money Magazine recently recommended two online courses to give you the fundamentals of financial planning. I thought I would test drive those for you and give you my impressions of the two courses.
First up is the course entitled "Fundamentals of Personal Financial Planning" offered by the University of California at Irvine. This no credit, no-fee course is available online at http://ocw.uci.edu/courses/course.aspx?id=12. This course is not intended to replace a professional financial planner, but to help to give you a better understanding of financial planning. According to the course description, "The course was created to help those who cannot afford extensive planning assistance better understand how to define and reach their financial goals. It provides basic understanding so informed decisions can be made. The course can also be seen as a reference for individual topics that are part of personal financial planning."
The course is quite comprehensive, covering some 22 different topics from preparing cash flow and net worth statements to determining how much you will need for retirement. If you are truly interested in planning your financial future, this is certainly a good place to assist you with your planning. However, it does make certain assumptions that beginners may not be familiar with. I think it is geared more towards the person with some general knowledge of the principles of personal investing who wants a refresher course.
In a future blog I will discuss another financial planning course from the Khan Academy. www.bettermoneyhabits.com.