Personal finance and the shameless act of selling
A few weeks ago my company invited an external speaker and he held this course named “Financial Intelligence”. In essence, it was a good initiative. Teaching IT geeks getting paid high salaries that life is not all about spending.
Our schools used to teach us math, chemistry, physics, history, geography, biology, and nothing about real life. For the generations brought up under communism, money didn’t have any value. When we finally graduated to democracy, our teachers didn’t know anything about personal finance. Since they didn’t understand its importance, they never bothered to learn and then teach us about it.
The rise of fake experts
Being a market economy, this was a gap in the market, and it got quickly filled by all kind of Robert Kiyosaki worshippers, plain vultures selling the magic formula to getting rich quick (or slow), to a happy couple life and whatnot. And most of them have an online paid course, or a free course followed by a paid seminar or a free excerpt from a paid guide to the ultimate financial happiness.
Getting back to the “Financial Intelligence” course from my company, the guy went on for 40 minutes on some generic finance tips. Some were harmless, while some were plain dangerous, like “if you’re afraid of risk, try to spontaneously buy some stocks every month and see what happens”. I won’t even bother explaining why I think this is dangerous advice. And then for another 20 minutes, he started to sell his 300 EUR online seminar. With some discount, if you also enrolled your wife or just anybody else, really. It was heartbreaking.
A few years back, I played a bit with dropshipping. It was interesting, and I spent hundreds of hours building my shop, looking for suppliers, finding products, advertising them. It was an absolute failure. Mostly because even I couldn’t understand why any normal person would buy shit from my store instead of using Amazon. But the interesting thing was the hundreds of people selling online courses for thousands of dollars on how to start dropshipping. People selling information available freely on the internet, and other people that were plain naive to buy them.
Why are people willing to buy stuff from self-proclaimed experts? Especially stuff that is freely available, or if not free, a lot cheaper than what these experts are selling it for.
In the following, I’ll make a list of learning resources I regularly use, besides google search. Most of them are free, and they also provide greater value than any expert course sold by some random guy on youtube, facebook or whatever. So, here’s me, selling you stuff that’s already freely available.
I only started to use Coursera a few months back, but it’s a learning platform I like a lot. Since most things I write about revolve around finance, here are some of the free courses I’ve watched on Coursera:
- Finance for Everyone: Markets – just a beginner course on how financial markets work from McMaster University
- Financial Markets and Investment Strategy Specialization – just a fancy name on how to evaluate risk when investing
- Bonds & Stocks – a beginner course from the University of Michigan; it explains why bonds and stocks exist and how and why companies are financed
- Finance for non-finance professionals – a short version of an MBA semester from Rice University
- Behavioural Finance – a nice course from Duke University talking about mistakes we make and why we make them
Coursera also has many other courses in math, physics, engineering, personal development. All real courses from actual experts, university professors holding PhDs in their domain.
All of these courses are available for free if you just want to watch them, and you don’t need a diploma saying you watched a course and took their exam.
But if you want to
pay me thank me, you can do that by writing a comment on this post telling me what other learning platforms you use and like.
Coursera is self-paced and you just watch videos anytime you want. If you need the feeling of a more rigid environment, you can enrol a course on edX, and feel like you’re back in school.
A few of the available courses I watched:
- How to save money: making smart financial decisions – from Berkeley University
- Entrepreneurship in emerging economies – from Harvard University
- Risk and return – from Columbia University
These are also free unless you want to take the exam. Along with many other courses on any subject I learned or wished to learn in school.
Khan Academy has thousands of courses in math, finance, engineering, sciences, art. All for free. I always plan to spend more time here, but somehow I never get enough of it.
Some of the courses I like:
- Finance and capital markets – a huge overview of everything related to personal finance: investing, debt, current economy
- Microeconomics – a basic overview of consumer theory, competition, supply and demand laws; a book on this topic is hard to read, but video courses are much more digestible
Pluralsight has nothing to do with finance, but everything to do with software engineering. I’ve used it for so many years that I just can’t add it here. I mostly used it because I had an account from my company, or with a free trial from time to time. I sometimes cheat and create first a free Microsoft Visual Studio subscription, and I use that to get a free month of Pluralsight. I did pay at some point their 29 USD per month subscription for 1 year, but it’s hard to watch videos continuously, so I stopped and decided for the free trials.
I follow some YouTubers and since a year ago they all started with this bullshit “this video is sponsored by skillshare”. After 1 year, I think it was time to actually look at it.
The courses are done by anyone, so amateurs, but you get one month free and might be interesting. Also, if you really have a decent skill, you can create a course and sell it here. They’re all over the place. Design, entrepreneurship, programming, arts and crafts, baking, fashion design, flower arranging, you name it. Kind of cool.
The subscription costs 12 USD per month, or 96 USD annually. I don’t like the fact they hide the pricing, you only see the join for free button and nothing about pricing. I had to search on other websites to see how much it costs because nowhere on skillshare website you can see this.
I haven’t tried it yet, so you can try it and tell me how it was.
I used Linkedin Learning for a year and I enjoyed the fact that they had many other course types besides software engineering. I enjoyed watching video courses on photography, business running, finance, creative writing. Almost anything I could think of.
For software-related courses, I liked more Pluralsight. For everything else LinkedIn Learning was a breath of fresh air.
While I wouldn’t pay again 360 EUR per year for it (including other LinkedIn Premium stuff), I don’t mind enjoying from time to time the free 1-month subscription they offer.
I usually put a virtual card from Revolut in my payment details, and delete it afterwards, just to make sure they don’t somehow charge me because of some hidden clauses in their terms and conditions.
If you decide you had enough videos to watch, you might want to read something. Books are expensive, and they also occupy space. If you’re not the type that shows off to their friends about how much they read by keeping stacks of books in their hallway (I do), and you don’t want to spend a fortune on Amazon Kindle books, you might want to try Scribd.
You’ll find almost any book ever printed. If you don’t find the book you’re looking for, most likely you’ll find it as a PDF uploaded but another user (somewhat illegal).
This one’s not free, but for 9 USD per month, you can satisfy all your reading urges. If I haven’t sold it to you yet, you can also try it for free for 2 months, using my invite link. I don’t get any money if you do so, they’ll just let me read for free for one month. If you don’t want to use my link, I don’t mind, I put my account on pause from time to time (they let me do that) and that’s how I save money.