What To Teach Newbies About Money?

I’ve been toying with the idea of creating an e-learning course to teach people the basics of personal finance for over a year now – which stemmed from some personal finance workshops I’ve been a part of at UofT.

I’d like to make it as comprehensive as possible, but note that the first course I would develop would be geared towards those who are NOT going to be DIY’ers, but rather just want to get a basic grip so that they can deal more effectively with their financial advisors, mortgage officers, bankers, insurance agents, etc.

The course will include quizzes, tests, videos, and of course text.

After the basic course is developed, I would then create a more in-depth course for those who wanted to be more involved. However, for now I’d like to get your input on what broad topics you think need to be included. Please feel free to post a comment with a brief note, or a more in-depth note if you want to weigh in in detail. I imagine it will be between six months and one year before the course is launched.


Preet Banerjee
Preet Banerjee
...is an independent consultant to the financial services industry and a personal finance commentator. You can learn more about Preet at his personal website and you can click here to follow him on Twitter.
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Showing 9 comments
  • Mark Wolfinger


    I believe you are going to find that preventing or eliminating bad habits is far more important that introducing them to good habits.

    Example: open a checking account, establish credit by taking out a small loan and repaying – these are positives actions. But they are unimportant when compared with paying off credit card balances every month (or don’t use credit cards) or not spending more than you earn.

    There are many topics to cover and the course can be endless. But you must prevent people from killing themselves financially – before you can help them do better.

    Good luck with project.

  • Howie

    I think Mark is completely right. Eliminate the bad habits, then developing good habits. Maybe have bad/good/better choices they can make throughout the courses. The possibilities are endless. Best of luck with it!

  • Susan

    For several years I did the financial part of a goal-setting workshop, and found that most people in the workshop didn’t know how to begin to organize themselves financially. Usually all things financial were scary to them. So it took a lot of encouragement and baby steps to work through setting financial goals and then doing the work of keeping track of expenses (budgeting), being aware of different options for saved monies, the importance of understanding what their advisors (if there was one) were saying and doing with their money etc. etc.

    I’m not sure what the best way would be to attract your target audience, given that often the prevailing attitude of the rank newbie is one of fear and/or feeling overwhelmed (too many books to read, too much information on the net etc.

    Best of luck! I think this is something that is sorely needed.

  • willfly

    This is a very good idea. Starting from a 50,000 foot view of landscape of how things work from banks to insurance, mortgage, savings etc and then diving into details.

  • DJ

    from a DIY site but not necessarily only for DIYers: http://www.financialwebring.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=101652

  • Big Cajun Man

    Sounds like a good idea to me, and I’d promote it on my site, that is for sure!

  • Meredith

    One of my personal challenges with finance is that I get organized, then fall off the wagon, then get organized, then fall off again. And I’m sure other people are the same.

    In keeping with Susan’s comment above, in addition to all the financial basics I think it would be helpful to include ideas on how to get and _stay_ organized, and stay motivated.

  • Preet

    @Mark Wolfinger – an excellent point. I will include a module on “what not to do” for sure. Thank you!

    @Howie – I intend to have anecdotal stories and videos included (some will just be for the fear factor of hearing some horror stories). Perhaps this will do the trick!

    @Susan – I also plan to include some easy to use tools to download to help people start out. Very simple spreadsheets and cheat sheets to make things as easy as possible.

    @Willfly – exactly – the first module will probably be the 50,000ft view and then each future module will focus on one topic at a time.

    @DJ – thank you for the wonderful link! Lots of good stuff to consider from those lists!

    @Big Cajun Man – I’m going to hold you to it, although somehow I think that regular PF blog readers will find it too elementary – might be good to pass on to their less interested friends though… :)

    @Meredith – excellent point. I will be sure to talk about the simple psychological aspects of organization and motivation. It’s very similar to physical fitness – we know what we have to do, we just don’t do it. :)

    Thank you all for your comments…

  • Adrian

    Yes, eliminating bad habits before going to good habits. These habits can include big spending. Or the same principle can be applied to spending. When you want to start saving money, start by reducing your largest expenses, go from top to bottom, and you will have a good debt free life.