Learning about various financial topics—personal finance, saving and investing, buying a home, retirement planning, the stock and bond markets, tax-shielding strategies, to name a few—is essential to well-informed, successful financial decision-making. Financial literacy is a key to achieving important financial goals over the course of your entire life.
What are the best resources for improving your financial literacy? How can you take your financial know-how to the next level? We’re partial to a certain finance website, of course, but the reality is that there are a number of tools that are well worth your time.
Here are some resources that we recommend you explore.
- Books and magazines remain a great way to delve into financial topics, although it’s important to find a publication geared toward your experience and learning level.
- The past few years have seen a proliferation of personal finance podcasts that can help you hone your money-management skills in your spare time.
- Libraries and civic centers sometimes host presentations by local financial professionals that are geared to novice investors.
- Financial professionals themselves and/or financial firms also offer financial education opportunities.
- Financial websites (including Investopedia) are another powerful and convenient resource for financial education.
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Find a Good Book
For anyone trying to build their financial literacy, one place to start is with a good book. The big advantages of print are that you can go at your own pace and home in on the topics that interest you the most. Most public libraries should have a sizeable selection of publications on financial topics.
Here are some highly regarded titles to start you off.
Personal Finance for Dummies
Sure, opening up a book designed for “dummies” takes some humility, but those who dig through author Eric Tyson’s expansive tome are usually rewarded. At more than 400 pages, Tyson covers it all—from budgeting and investing in mutual funds to understanding different types of insurance as well as discussing the tax changes that resulted from the 2018 tax legislation. Other topics include cryptocurrency, technology, and even millennial lifestyle changes. Don’t expect a deep dive into every topic. However, for a quick introduction to key concepts, it’s a good place to start. Keep your eyes open for the 2023 edition.
Your Money or Your Life
This book by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez defined the financial independence, retire early (FIRE) movement often tied to the millennial generation. The main goal of FIRE is to save 25 times annual expenses and to withdraw 4% as retirement income. This savings goal requires a very frugal lifestyle and a firm commitment to the system. The book was fully revised in 2018 and is a great financial literacy resource for the topic of personal finance.
I Will Teach You to Be Rich
When a book on finances is described as breezy and irreverent, one might think it not worth reading. In this case, one might be wrong. Ramit Sethi's self-described "no guilt, no excuses, no BS, just a 6-week program that works" quickly became a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller. It's a go-to resource that coaches readers to earn more, save more, and live a rich life. The revised 2019 second edition teaches you how to choose the right accounts and investments so that your money grows for you—automatically.
Subscribe to a Newspaper or Magazine
With so much great content available on the web, forking over money for a print newspaper or magazine might seem antiquated. Still, finding a publication in your mailbox every day, week, or month may keep you from falling off the finance wagon for too long.
In addition, newspapers and magazines have a way of introducing you to topics and ideas that you might not have sought out on your own. Below are some of the best when it comes to developing your financial acumen.
The Wall Street Journal
One of the leading daily newspapers in the world, the Wall Street Journal has covered business, financial, and economic news since its founding in 1889. For those seeking to improve their financial literacy, this newspaper (available as a digital version, as well) provides extensive daily coverage of business news, economic events, investing, and the markets.
There are other publications that offer personal finance information, but Kiplinger is the only print magazine left that’s focused entirely on investing and money management. Unlike a number of other finance publications clearly geared toward business readers, Kiplinger has always focused on clear-cut advice for everyday investors. Published monthly, it contains articles on investments, tax strategies, estate planning, and more.
For someone with a fairly strong grasp of how markets work, Barron’s is a great tool for tracking specific industries and companies. The weekly magazine offers stock picks, breakdowns of top-selling mutual funds, and other actionable content designed to give active investors an edge.
Compared to the other publications on this list, The Economist is a monthly that casts a broader net. Readers will find articles on economics as well as politics, technology, and the arts. It’s not the straightforward advice-based content you’ll find in, say, Kiplinger. But for readers hoping to get a sense of events shaping the global markets, this U.K.-based magazine is a treasure.
Bookmark a Website
There is an enormous amount of content online for those who want to improve their financial literacy. However, where to spend your valuable time is the question. Here are some suggested sites to start with.
Financial Literacy Resource Directory
Developed by the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, this directory provides consumers with a great opportunity to explore a large selection of financial literacy resources arranged by topic. Visitors can find an assortment of educational resources on basic financial capability, credit management, home buying, retirement and financial security, and financial literacy programs/toolkits for youths.
Better Investing was established by the National Association of Investors (NAIC). The mission of the NAIC is to offer individuals an unbiased investing education. It focuses on providing information and useful online stock analysis tools that help people to learn about investing and reach financial goals. Its many resources include articles, classes, stock reports, publications, investor clubs, and webinars.
American Association of Individual Investors
AAII is a membership organization that's dedicated to providing individual investors with the information they need to make informed investment decisions and reach important financial objectives. Some may consider it most useful for those with investment experience, although its target market includes novices. AAII's website and monthly journal are packed with information about a range of topics, from coverage of current events, investing for beginners, and personal finance to stocks, bond, mutual funds, ETFs, dividend reinvesting, retirement income, tax strategies, and much more.
Investor.gov is a site under the aegis of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. It provides visitors with an in-depth introduction to investing, financial tools and calculators, guidance on protecting yourself and your investments from fraud, coverage of financial events in the news and guidance for dealing with their effects, money tips, competitions, and games for students, and more.
Tune in to a Podcast
Whether you’re in the car, going for a jog, or doing work around the house, podcasts are an easy way to absorb some financial ed and money-management tips without a lot of effort. The podcast landscape is pretty crowded, so you’re bound to stumble upon some worthwhile shows. Here are a few of our favorites, in addition to The Investopedia Express, Editor-in-Chief Caleb Silver's weekly take on all things financial.
"Everyone's Talkin' Money"
A certified financial planner turned podcaster, Shannah Compton Game's goal is to help people learn to see money as a tool they can use to create the life they want for themselves. Originally called "Millennial Money," Game has re-focused her podcast to ensure that all, from the inexperienced to those ready to retire, get critical financial information explained in ways that are easy to understand and act upon. The podcast features topics like how to start building wealth on any budget, how to get rid of debt, the need-to-knows about student loan forgiveness, and creating passive income streams.
This show, hosted by Laura D. Adams, "has been downloaded more than 40 million times by legions of loyal fans." Laura's forté is applicable advice and tips in about 20 minutes per week that listeners can implement immediately. Inspiration for "Money Girl" podcasts comes from current events, social media, listener questions, and Laura's conversations with her friends. The variety makes it easy and fun for listeners to understand complex personal finance topics. "Money Girl" can be heard for free on the "Money Girl" blog and on many apps, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and the Stitcher app.
Those seeking a better understanding of what’s going on with the economy will probably find NPR's "Planet Money" a great starting point. The podcast likes to take recent news stories—the development of a COVID-19 vaccine or trade wars with China, for example—and give them added context. The show doesn’t always take aim at the big headlines, though. One episode tackled the plausibility of the television show The Simpsons through the lens of the economics of the modern middle class American family. If you’re curious about all things economics, this may be for you.
"The His and Her Money Show"
Learn the basics of marriage, money, and financial independence with Talaat and Tai McNeely and their guests, who include Dave Ramsey. The podcast covers a wide range of topics including credit, debt, saving money, investments, real estate, earning money from side hustles, tax deductions, and even making money from your car.
Explore Community Events
In-person and virtual events are another opportunity to increase your financial literacy and start making wiser choices with your money. Public libraries, for example, sometimes host seminars led by local financial professionals. Financial firms also periodically offer financial and investment seminars. Many of these events feature question-and-answer sessions in which you can get personalized advice on a specific financial scenario you’re facing.
There are also a number of community-oriented financial literacy programs around the country aimed at low- and middle-income adults that include budgeting and investment classes. Some offer free counseling sessions for eligible participants, in which you can talk one on one with a financial coach.
What's Financial Literacy?
Financial literacy is the ability to understand and use financial concepts such as saving, investing, and debt management. While these three concepts are the bedrock of financial literacy, each leads to other financial topics, all of which contribute to more in-depth knowledge and skill.
What Are the Key Components of Financial Literacy?
There are five key components of financial literacy, according to the Financial Literacy and Education Commission: Earn, spend, save and invest, borrow, and protect.
Why Is Financial Literacy Important?
Financial literacy is vitally important because it represents financial knowledge, and financial knowledge is power. The more that you learn and understand (about topics such as saving and investing, budgeting, borrowing money, investing, retirement planning, and more), the better able you'll be to take advantage of opportunities to improve your current financial well-being and your future financial security.
The Bottom Line
Improving your financial literacy is a must in order to possess and build on the knowledge you need to develop healthy money habits and invest wisely. Books, magazines, and financially-focused websites abound. With the growth of podcasts, and other digital media, there are more places than ever to get the valuable information that can enhance your financial literacy.