I’m a big believer in lifelong education. I don’t think you need to stop learning just because you got a diploma. I encourage people to learn about finance because it’s not something that many people learn in their first pass through school. You may take an economics course in college that focuses on theory, but practical financial information isn’t generally taught in school. The more you can learn about money, business, and investing, the better off you’ll be when it comes to managing your money and career.
Education helps your finances in three ways. First, you can choose to learn about personal finance specifically. You can take courses in investing, retirement planning, economics, and basic accounting. There are also courses in coupon use, estate planning, debt management, and saving for college. If you need to learn something about personal finance, there is usually a course that covers it. These types of courses will increase your financial literacy and enable you to manage your money better. When you know more about finance, you can make wiser decisions about your money.
Second, you can take courses that help you start your own business. Business accounting, tax planning, business law, and courses on how to open and operate a new business can get your dream venture off the ground. Many people dream of starting their own business, but falter when it comes time to actually run the business. Studies show that wealth is more easily generated when you own your own business, so if you have a great idea it’s best to figure out how to get that business going.
Third, you can learn new skills. When you learn new skills, you increase your earning potential. The more you know the more valuable you become to a potential (or current) employer. You can increase your computer skills, or learn something entirely new like graphic design. You can earn a certificate that is valued by your profession. More skills also translate into other sources of income. Maybe you’ve always wanted to be a photographer. Take some photography courses and before long you can supplement your income from your day job with a side job as a photographer.
The really good news is that, thanks to advances in online learning, you can learn all of this on your own time without leaving home. Many community colleges/extension programs now offer many of their courses online. Major universities even have programs where you can earn an entire degree while barely setting foot in a classroom. With courses starting all the time, there’s really no excuse anymore for not getting the education you need to improve your financial life.
Many community colleges offer their programs through ed2go.com. When you visit ed2go.com you can browse the course catalog and then either look for courses offered through your local institution or enroll directly through ed2go. Note that if your institution offers the course you want, it may be cheaper to enroll there. My local community college offers ed2go’s courses for an average of $87. If I enrolled through ed2go, the cost jumps to $139. However, if your local school doesn’t offer what you need, $139 is still a good deal. Also check your community college site to see if they offer courses not offered by ed2go. You might find something specific to your region taught by a local expert.
How useful is this, really, you ask? Just a quick perusal through ed2go.com and my local community school’s website yielded the following possibilities:
- Business Law for the Small Business Owner
- Debt Elimination Techniques That Work
- Real Estate Investing
- Stocks, Bonds, and Investing
- Where Does All My Money Go (Budgeting)
- Keys to Successful Money Management
- Resume Writing
- 12 Steps to a Successful Job Search
- Employment Law Fundamentals
- Start Your Own Arts and Crafts Business
- Marketing Your Business on the Internet
- Start Your Own Small Business
- Start and Operate Your Own Home Based Business
- Income and Risk Management for Pre-retirees and Retirees
- Introduction to Financial Survival in Today’s Economy
Plus many, many more. There are a ton of courses on various professional certifications, software applications, and career training. There are also courses on various skills including languages, photography, catering, cooking, health care and writing that can help you save or make additional money.
Aside from what you learn in a course, you also benefit because you meet new people. Even in online environments you interact with other students and teachers through message boards, IM, or live chat. These people may make good contacts for later opportunities or they may have contacts that you can use now. They may have ideas you hadn’t considered or special skills that you can use in your new business.
If you need to know something about finance or if you need to improve your skills, there really isn’t any excuse for not learning what you need to know. Online courses are reasonably priced, open to all, and the work can be done when you have some spare moments. You can learn what you need to know while you sit at home in your pajamas and eat dinner if you want. That beats schlepping to a class across town.