October 25, 2007


There are a lot of financial topics that I find challenging to address in this type of venue. Investing is one – in part because of the diversity of perspectives – i.e., load vs. no load, do-it-yourself vs. broker, actively managed mutual funds vs. ETFs, etc. Another struggle is the fact that most ideas build upon other concepts … For example, a mutual fund is a basic investment product, but to understand them well, you should also have an understanding of stocks, bonds, diversification, risk, and other key planning concepts. Doing this in a class is doable, doing this where you introduce one concept per week (to a huge group of people at various life and financial stages) is difficult to say the least … SO, rather than bypassing topics such as these [which are some of the most important concepts in your financial life], I will instead direct you to some of the best planning resources I’ve come across. You’ll find that most of these are laid out in a ‘curriculum’/class-type format. It allows you to handpick what you want to learn about or start from the beginning and work your way through the information sequentially. To avoid overwhelming you with sites, I’ve selected five “investing 101” free resources to share today.

  1. Dollars from Sense. The purpose of DollarsFromSense is to provide a hands-on environment whereby consumers can learn crucial investment lessons that promote consideration of long-term financial security. It is an interactive tool that instructs in the basics of investing so people can make smart investment choices in the early stages of their working lives.
  2. Fundamentals of Financial Planning. A comprehensive web course developed by Florida State University to address the fundamental issues related to financial planning. Modules cover general topics including investment planning, taxes, insurance, retirement, and estate planning. Much of the content areas are still in development.
  3. Investing for Success. Investing for Success is a 10-unit interactive, multimedia web course on the basics of investing provided in partnership with the National Urban League and the Investment Company Institute Education Foundation. The primary objective of the program is to help bridge the “knowledge gap” that keeps people from becoming investors.
  4. Investing for Your Future. The 11-unit home study course was written collaboratively by a consortium of schools (Rutgers, Cornell, Clemson, Virginia Tech, Michigan State, and Idaho) and created with beginning investors in mind. IFYF lays out basic topics such as setting goals, investing terminology, types of investments, selecting an advisor, and other helpful information.
  5. Path to Investing. Sponsored by the Foundation for Investor Education, this resource offers helpful, practical information to help you become a more educated investor. The site offers guidance from investment professionals; perspectives for various lifecycle stages, quizzes, calculators, and other resources to sharpen your investment focus.