Have you ever found yourself wanting to know more about personal finance but unsure where to start? It can feel very intimidating to dip your toes into the vast ocean that is financial literacy. It may even seem like other people are already so far ahead while you’re still standing at the starting line. But fear not — learning about all things personal finance is a lifetime marathon not a quick sprint. There are no winners and losers; everyone is simply at a different point on the journey.
Your next thought may be something like: “I have so many questions, but I can’t afford a financial advisor right now.” That’s fair, and many people are in that exact same boat. The good news is that information is more available than ever before for those willing to do some digging.
Here are six ways to get free or low-cost financial advice.
Inquire at Your Bank/Credit Union
Most of us tend to use financial institutions as places to store money and open lines of credit. Banks and credit unions can be goldmines of financial advice too. The catch is you may need to ask outright, as some institutions are still figuring out how to best connect with members in this way. While 78 percent of U.S. retail bank customers would like their banks to offer personal financial guidance, only 28 percent remember getting advice from their bank within the last year.
The same J.D. Power survey found most people want “quick tips that improve their financial circumstance.” The next most popular topics for advice seeking were investments, retirement and household budgeting.
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There are a few ways to go about soliciting advice from your trusted financial institution. You can set up a face-to-face appointment to talk about your options with a manager. You can also opt in for email updates and read your bank’s blog posts.
Meet with a Non-Profit Credit Counselor
Did you know that credit counseling through a non-profit agency is often free? Certified credit counselors are available to help people create a budget, connect with educational materials on important financial topics and discuss options for debt relief.
Take a Community Class
Keep your eyes peeled for opportunities to attend classes and workshops in your community. Start by checking on upcoming programming offered through your local library — or even stopping by and scanning the bulletin board once in a while. The Los Angeles Public Library system maintains a directory with links to “organizations that provide a variety of well-being services to County residents including credit building, credit counseling, financial coaching, free tax assistance, homeownership, small business development, etc.”
These days you can also take classes online if you prefer to learn at home.
Read Online Blogs
Type any financial term into a search engine these days and you’ll get millions of results in seconds. The most challenging part of getting your information from online blogs is simply making sure the guidance is coming from a reputable source. Look for objectivity and professional credentials before trusting everything you see online.
Listen to Financial Advice Podcasts
Auditory learners can rejoice at all the money-related podcasts available today. The trick is finding one engaging enough to hold your attention — and making sure its hosts and guests are qualified to be doling out advice.
Ask Your Friends and Family
It can be scary to talk about money. In fact, a survey from Wells Fargo & Company found nearly half (44 percent) of respondents say personal finance is the most challenging topic to discuss with others. This places personal finance above death, politics and religion.
But opening up the lines of communication with friends and family members can help you glean insights you might otherwise have never considered.
Financial advice doesn’t have to cost a fortune. These inexpensive or free sources will help you boost your financial literacy without breaking the bank.