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By Erin Pittman
Financial literacy is a skill that we grow as we age. The youngest children begin counting money. As they grow a bit older, we can teach them the value of a dollar, and how to earn and save. We can empower older kids with economics knowledge to prepare them for life, and college students can take a deeper dive through financial courses.
But there’s always more to learn. Whether you’ve found yourself in a tough spot where you could use some advice on how to best navigate your financial situation, or you’re ready to invest and want to learn some smart practices, there are free resources available for you to tap into.
Master Home Finance Basics
For personal financial coaching and education locally, turn to the Financial Empowerment Center at Prince William County. For 30 years, the Virginia Cooperative Extension Financial Education and Housing Counseling Program, which operates from the center, has been helping people understand their finances, buy a home for the first time, and avoid foreclosure. Team members conduct virtual classes and appointments by phone, Zoom and Skype.
The center also offers free four-part financial series each month. In odd months, the series includes:
- Building A Spending Plan (Budgeting Basics)
- Loans and Lending (Borrowing Basics)
- Understanding Your Credit (Reports and Score)
- Avoiding Fraud and Scams (Identity Theft)
In even months, the series includes the following topics:
- Rental Success
- Mortgages, Home Equity & Avoiding Foreclosure
- The New Lending, Understanding Peer-to-Peer Options (Avoiding Predatory Lending)
- Moving Forward – Money Influencers and Setting Financial Goals
For locations, information, registration and more, visit pwcva.gov/department/virginia-cooperative-extension/financialeducation. All courses and coaching services are provided at no charge.
If you want an online quick start toward reaching those financial goals, NerdWallet has you covered. Start with their article “Budgeting 101: How to Budget Money” (nerdwallet.com/article/finance/how-to-budget), as budgeting is an essential skill to master. You’ll find all the information and tools you need to quickly create a household budget and get on your way to smart spending and saving. NerdWallet also offers additional links, tools, and resources to expand your learning on a variety of financial topics.
Tackle Your Taxes
Roosevelt University offers a free webinar created in February of 2021 called “The Basics of Tax Preparation,” which walks you through the ABCs of how to file your taxes. Understand what the terms mean, grasp the requirements for claiming deductions, and master all other basic ins and outs. Visit their YouTube channel at youtube.com/user/RooseveltUniversity to educate yourself now. April 15 always seems to get here faster than we think!
Learn It All
Khan Academy has well established itself as a respected hub for free education in thousands of subject areas. The topic of money is no exception. If you’re looking for a refresher in all things personal finance, their one-stop course “Personal Finance” is for you. In partnership with Bank of America, Khan Academy covers:
- Saving and budgeting
- Interest and debt
- Investments and retirement
- Income and benefits
- Car expenses
- Paying for college
- Keeping your information safe
Visit khanacademy.org/college-careers-more/personal-finance to get started on this holistic course.
The internet offers a wealth of personal finance courses, tips, and advice. Just remember to always check your source. Stop and imagine having a cup of coffee with the author or someone from the resource organization. If you wouldn’t value advice from them during your imaginary coffee date, move on to the
next source. Happy learning.
Erin Pittman is the Editor in Chief of Prince William Living. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.