How Free Online Resources Can Help You Better Understand Financial Issues

Even though schools, colleges and universities are closed throughout the world, there’s never been a better time for education. Why? Because of a heady combination of extensive downtime, pressing necessity, and a spectacular abundance of informational resources. Now that we’re all stuck at home with no clear notion of when that will change, we should learn what we can.

There are as many viable topics as there are stars in the sky, yes, but I suggest concentrating on financial matters. Even if you’re fortunate enough to still be gainfully employed, there’s no telling how long that will last, and taking action in the coming months to safeguard your financial situation could make your living situation massively easier down the line.

Making it even easier, you don’t actually need to spend anything to learn (beyond what you pay for your internet access and whatever you paid for your computer). The internet is packed with free resources that run the gamut from basic to complex. Here’s how they can help you.

They Can Provide Basic Financial Literacy

Many people learn the core elements of financial management during their adolescence, but it doesn’t happen for everyone. Even now it’s entirely possible for someone to reach adulthood without really understanding how bank lending works, and any gap in knowledge can cause problems at critical junctures like buying property or starting a family.

The internet is full of courses that run through all the building blocks of financial literacy, allowing anyone interested to catch up and start getting their spending and saving under control. Even better, many of the courses are available completely free of charge.

Alison, for instance, has a free core financial literacy course that features an assessment and a resulting certification, and Coursera has a free course that’s offered by the University of Florida—it’s called Personal & Family Financial Planning—that runs through personal and family financing as well as how to approach investment.

They Can Clearly Define Vital Terms

The world of finance is full of insider terms that most people would understand partially or not at all: terms that get explained to those who take finance courses or get internships in the field. Well, those terms aren’t closely guarded secrets available only to the elites. They’re out there on the internet in countless glossaries and introductory guides.

Take something really fundamental, like cash flow. If you don’t know what that means, you don’t need to hire a financial advisor or get a degree in financial management. You just need to look it up, and you’ll also find various accompanying materials explaining everything from how you can measure it to how you can improve it.

As for trickier stuff, that isn’t a problem either. A roundup guide of various terms (like this guide to confusing financial terms) can give you a great primer. From there, you can do more research to get more in-depth explanations.

They Can Give Historical and Legal Context

It’s often interesting to know how certain financial arrangements came about. You might wonder about credit derivatives: how they were first used, how they got out of control, and how they factored into the 2008 financial crash. All of that information is out there online with varying degrees of complexity, letting you choose your pace.

Though you should never use them as definitive sources, you can get some good leads from wikis. Wikipedia has inspired many research projects, though it has become rather censorious over the years: if you’re looking into anything with any controversy, check out a fork such as Everipedia instead (the same articles but minus the over-egged removals). Either way, you’re looking for the citations, as they’ll lead you to the real information.

Alternatively, you can look for interesting roundups from sites like The Economist, and dig around for niche sites covering different aspects of the finance world. Sites like this one will obviously help. Beyond that, you can start moving toward free courses, as there are more of those around than ever before due to this crisis (courses of all kinds). Just searching for “free finance courses” will give you plenty of results to consider.

They Can Empower You to Take Action

It’s difficult to really understand a lot of financial issues until you actually deal with them in real-world scenarios. Take something like debt, for instance. You can learn all about how to deal with debt, but until you actually experience it you won’t know what it’s really like. Of course, not all possible scenarios are negative. What about starting your own business?

Running a side business is a fantastic way to get to grips with financial matters, and free online resources can really help with that—not only by introducing you to the basics and growing your confidence, but also by linking you to convenient tools to do things like get you a free credit report or help you calculate your outgoings.

You should also consider how many online communities there are to support you when you need it. Reddit in particular is full of relevant subreddits (like r/personalfinance) that will answer any questions you have: no charge, no expectation of any value returned.

Free online resources can do everything from introducing you to foundational financial concepts to helping you put them into practice as you start your own business. Now that you have free time during the lockdown, why not see what you can discover?

About the Author

Rodney Laws is an ecommerce consultant with He has more than a decade of experience providing marketing advice to online entrepreneurs and businesses. He’s set up and marketed his own businesses and consulted on crafting campaigns for established companies. receives compensation for the financial products and services advertised on this site if our users apply for and sign up for any of them. Compensation is not a factor in the substantive evaluation of any product.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline,, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to are also able to register for a free account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Editorial Team