How to Learn About Finance

So you want to learn about finance, but you don’t know where to start? Have no fear, because a wealth of information is at your fingertips, and getting started has never been easier. From a primer on personal finances to advanced securities analysis, anyone interested in learning can gain access to the necessary resources.

Key Takeaways

  • A wide variety of educational resources are available to anyone who wants to learn about finance.
  • Start your online search by entering a financial topic into YouTube or browsing financial-related podcasts.
  • Libraries, bookstores, and online sites can provide leads to many financial titles. A good basic book to start with: The Richest Man in Babylon.
  • Universities offer free online courses on a myriad of financial topics.
  • A subscription to a publication like The Wall Street Journal or Barron’s, conversations with financial services professionals, and taking courses at the CFA Institute can all further your education.

Watch, Listen, or Read Up on Financial Topics

Start your financial learning journey by searching YouTube. The popular video-sharing platform has content on virtually any financial topic you’d like to learn more about, from saving hacks for helping you buy your first car to the pros and cons of buy now, pay later (BNPL) credit services. Best of all, the content is free and allows you to build upon your knowledge as you go. However, remember that the information you find isn’t specifically tailored to your own financial goals and circumstances and that the person giving the advice may not be a licensed financial professional. Also, be sure to check out the thousands of free podcasts that focus on financial-related topics; they are easy to download and often help break down more complex financial concepts.

Additionally, many financial services firms and mutual fund companies offer a variety of free information. A visit to their websites can offer everything from general education on a wide array of products to economic forecasts and economic insights from market professionals and analysts. With just a little effort, you can identify and follow comments from your favorite economists, investment strategists, portfolio managers, and other experts.

Don’t forget about old-school ways to build up your financial knowledge, either. The library, your local bookstore, and multiple online retailers offer literally thousands of books on every conceivable financial topic. From financial history and Wall Street villains to hedge fund analysis and day trading strategies, there’s a book for every topic. 

For a basic introduction to sound financial concepts, you can’t do much better than The Richest Man in Babylon. It’s a tiny little book, written in an uncomplicated style. It also captures the wisdom of the ages in an easy-to-follow manner.

Once you’ve covered that, the famous For Dummies series provides insight into everything from budgeting to mutual funds. Managing Your Money for Dummies and Mutual Fund$ for Dummie$ are two titles that will help you expand your knowledge of basic concepts.

As you continue to expand your financial knowledge, you are likely to identify specific areas that you would like to learn more about. Investopedia and similar sites provide access to a wealth of information that helps readers understand financial topics, often with practical real-world examples. How-to-start investing guides are particularly helpful, as they provide an in-depth look at a wide variety of topics.

How to Learn About Finance

Take a Finance Course

Thousands of in-person and online courses are available to help educate you about finance and investing. Many universities offer free or paid online courses that you can take at any time. We created the Investopedia Academy in 2018 to help people learn everything from investing, trading, and money management to personal finance.

Hit the Books Again

After you have covered the basics and want a solid overview at a more detailed level, The Wall Street Journal Guide to Understanding Money & Investing is a great place to start. When you are done with that, your local library or bookstore will contain a variety of magazines covering both timely and general financial services topics.

For a broad overview of all things finance, consider reading How to Money: Your Ultimate Visual Guide to the Basics of Finance. Written by best-selling author and frequent TV guest Jean Chatzky, the 256-page book does a great job covering the basics, such as budgeting, credit, investing, and taxes, in an engaging and refreshing tone.

If you are college-bound this year, it’s worth checking out Paying for College, 2023: Everything You Need to Maximize Financial Aid and Afford College. The guide’s author, Kalman Chany, outlines various sources of available financial aid, such as scholarships and grants, as well as student loan options. As an added bonus, the book includes useful worksheets and sample financial aid forms to help get you started.

When you are ready to learn about equities, Value Line is a great research and publishing firm that provides an introduction into how you can begin to research and analyze stocks. Even if you choose not to conduct your own stock analysis, the website is worth a visit.

If you made it this far, you are clearly serious about your endeavor. Now it’s time to make your quest a daily habit. Subscribing to The Wall Street Journal will give you a daily overview of the issues impacting global business operations. The Journal also has a great Personal Finance section. Barron’s is another respected publication read by many professionals in the financial services industry. There are many other top-quality publications dedicated to various aspects of the financial services world. Find one that matches your interests, and read it.

Some libraries provide access to Value Line for free. If your local library does not, then the service is available by subscription.

Talk to Financial Services Professionals

Once you have a solid understanding of the various aspects of the financial services world, it is time to talk to the experts. Financial services professionals make a living with their expertise and can help you learn about everything from managing student debt to finding a suitable mortgage for buying your first house.

Some of these topics are covered in seminars, others in one-on-one consultations. You can even pick up a thing or two just by having an informal conversation. Talk to professionals, such as financial advisors, bankers, accountants, and attorneys. They are often happy to share their general knowledge with those just starting out, especially if you show a keen interest in learning more.

Ready for More?

Like what you have seen and heard and are ready for more? The CFA Institute, a nonprofit organization that offers education, a code of ethics to follow, and several certification programs (including the chartered financial analyst (CFA) and the Certificate in Investment Performance Measurement (CIPM) designations), provides access to its curriculum.

The CFA program is an extremely well-regarded curriculum. If articles with titles like Investment Performance Measurement: Evaluating and Presenting Results by Philip Lawton and Todd Jankowski capture your interest, then the CFA Institute has a reading list that you are sure to like.

An Evolving Industry

The financial services field is constantly evolving and changing. Recent decades have seen an enhanced regulatory environment after the 2008 financial crisis, the rise of exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and the emergence of digital assets like cryptocurrencies. Change is par for the course, as the industry adapts to dynamic economic conditions and changes in what investors want and how they wish to deploy their assets.

In the financial world, there is always something new to consider, something old to revisit, and something interesting just beyond the horizon. Keeping up with the industry is an important part of a financial services professional’s life, and continuing education is required for many of these experts to maintain their credentials. Knowing how to learn about finance is just the start of your financial journey. The ever-changing industry means that you will always have an opportunity to add to your body of knowledge.

Where’s the best place online to start learning about finance?

Start your online search by entering a financial keyword of interest into YouTube. The platform provides content on virtually any topic and makes suggestions on your recent searches, helping to build your knowledge. Podcasts and books about finance are also a great place to start learning about finance.

What areas of finance should I learn about?

Start by learning about areas of finance that interest you. For example, if you are interested in stocks, consider learning more about how to build a balanced portfolio. If you are thinking about a career in finance, think about learning about specific areas you would like to specialize in, such as investment banking or financial planning.

Should I take a financial course?

Taking a financial course can help build upon an area of finance that you would like to learn more about. In some financial fields, you may be required to complete specific courses to obtain licensing. If you already work for a financial services company, ask if they provide assistance in paying for a course that is relevant to your job.

Should I speak to a financial advisor?

Even after you have learned about the basics of finance, it’s always a good idea to discuss your goals with a financial advisor who can tailor a course of action to meet your specific needs. They can help point out areas you may have overlooked and suggest other resources to assist in your learning journey.

The Bottom Line

Learning about finance may seem overwhelming at first, but rest assured, there are many great resources out there if you look in the right places. Commencing your financial learning journey online is a great place to start, with a lot of content on virtually any financial topic just one click or tap away. Listening to podcasts and reading books about specific areas of finance that interest you help break down more complex financial topics and speed up the learning process. There are also many paid and free courses out there that offer courses in different areas of finance and investing. For more tailored financial advice, it’s always best to speak to a professional who can take your personal circumstances into consideration when making recommendations.


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