Learning Finance Without a Finance Background

By Timothy Moore · November 09, 2022 · 7 minute read

We’re here to help! First and foremost, SoFi Learn strives to be a beneficial resource to you as you navigate your financial journey. Read more We develop content that covers a variety of financial topics. Sometimes, that content may include information about products, features, or services that SoFi does not provide. We aim to break down complicated concepts, loop you in on the latest trends, and keep you up-to-date on the stuff you can use to help get your money right. Read less

Learning Finance Without a Finance Background

An advanced financial degree isn’t a requirement for taking control of your finances. In fact, you can learn all you need to know about finance without a financial education background at all — if you’re willing to put in the work (and sometimes spend a little money).

Learning about how the realm of money works can boost your financial literacy and may improve how well you spend, save, and invest your hard-earned cash.

So let’s take a look at some of the easiest ways to learn finance on your own time, including:

•   Reading books and blogs

•   Consuming video and audio content

•   Attending online and in-person classes and seminars

Why Being Sound in Finance Is Important

Even if you don’t want to become an accountant or manage clients’ investment portfolios, learning about finance is an important practice for everyone. Knowing financial basics like how to build a budget, how to pay off debt, how bank accounts work, and even how to do basic investing in stocks and bonds can be key to your financial stability. You’ll likely become a smarter consumer and savvier money manager, not turning a blind eye to your bank and IRA statements.

With more understanding of your finances, you’ll have more control over them. Financial literacy can help you avoid (or get out of) debt, save for important goals like a wedding or vacation, and increase your net worth through investments and home ownership. This can benefit the financial health and well-being of your family, too.

8 Ways to Learn About Finance

Wondering how to learn finance without enrolling in a four-year degree? Here are some of the easiest ways to teach yourself about finance. Dive in, and you may be rewarded with knowing how to manage your own money confidently and find your way to financial freedom:

1. Taking an Online Course

Taking an online course is one of the best ways to learn finance — and you can even do it in sweatpants. LinkedIn offers several finance and accounting courses that are ideal if you are working toward becoming a practicing financial professional, but you can also find free or affordable financial literacy classes for the average person.

Popular options for online financial courses include Coursera, edX, and Udemy. Just be sure to find courses aimed at non-finance pros. Many universities, including MIT and the University of Michigan, offer some courses for free; you’ll just have to pay if you want the certificate of completion.

2. Reading Books

There’s no way around it: If you want to learn about finance at a deeper level, you’ll probably benefit from cracking open a book. Your local library probably offers shelves of books on finance (maybe even digital versions for your e-reader), but you can also order books online or shop at second-hand bookstores.

Goodreads is a great place to research personal finance books. Some of the best core books for learning about finance, especially for beginners, include:

•   Get a Financial Life by Beth Kobliner

•   I Will Teach You to Be Rich by Ramit Sethi

•   Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez

•   The Simple Path to Wealth by JL Collins.

Recommended: 10 Personal Finance Basics

3. Listening to Podcasts

If reading isn’t your thing, you can instead try learning finance via podcasts (or audiobooks). Listening to the top money podcasts means you can use your time efficiently: Stream the podcast during your commute to and from work, while exercising or walking the dog, or even while cooking dinner.

Some podcasts are aimed at beginners while others have more targeted audiences, usually those interested in investing.

If you’re a beginner, check out:

•   So Money

•   Financial Grownup

•   Freakonomics

Students may benefit from The College Investor; The Dave Ramsey Show is popular with people working to get out of debt; and investors who want to learn more about the market should queue up What’s News, Jill on Money, or Planet Money.

4. Utilizing YouTube and Other Visual Media

Podcasts are great for on-the-go learning, but if you want to sit and watch financial content so you can take notes, YouTube is a great place to start. Here are some of our top recommendations for financial literacy video content:

•   The Financial Diet or Two Cents for general personal finance content

•   Wealth Hacker for investing and passive income advice

•   Bigger Pockets for real estate investing.

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5. Hiring a Financial Professional

While learning about how to use a checking and savings account is important, more complex topics like debt consolidation or investing in the stock market may be too intimidating for some.

If you find yourself too busy to learn or just struggling with the concepts, consider hiring a financial professional. Some financial professionals offer specific services like tax preparation and wealth management; you can also hire a financial consultant who can offer advice on all areas of your finances, from paying down student loan debt to building an emergency savings to refinancing a mortgage. This process, beyond providing guidance, can also help you build knowledge about the areas of finance about which you are most curious.

Recommended: What Is Financial Therapy?

6. Taking an In-Person Class or Seminar

How to learn about finance if you find yourself easily distracted during online courses? In-person classes at a local college or even seminars and workshops in your area could be a good option.

You can check out nearby universities and community colleges to see what classes they offer. If you have hired a financial advisor, they might be able to recommend upcoming seminars in your area. Finally, your local library may also host workshops.

7. Subscribing to Business and Investing Publications

Beginners can likely get by on podcasts and YouTube content, but once you advance to more complex investing concepts, it’s a good idea to subscribe to business and investing publications, whether in print or digitally. Popular financial magazines include Barron’s, The Economist, Kiplinger’s, Forbes, and Money. The Wall Street Journal is a popular resource for monitoring investments.

Many investment apps now offer access to news about the market. If you are using an app rather than a traditional investment firm, see what information they offer access to before signing up for any subscriptions.

Recommended: 5 Ways to Achieve Financial Security

8. Follow a Finance Blog

If a newspaper delivered on your doorstep feels too archaic, you can instead use finance blogs to learn basic topics and stay on top of changing news. One good place to start: See what your bank or investment management firm offers. Many have top-notch blogs covering an array of topics.

You may also find blogs that suit your particular needs, whether that’s understanding annuities, managing finances for a single-paycheck family, or estate planning. If you read a book on money that you like or listen to a podcast that you find valuable in one of your key areas of interest, search for more intel on the expert involved. They may well have a finance blog that can deepen your knowledge.

Managing Finances With SoFi

A key player in your financial knowledge and well-being is the bank you choose as your partner. SoFi can be a smart choice when you’re shopping for a new bank account. Our Checking and Savings lets you conveniently spend and save in one place, while sharing a suite of tools to help you monitor and manage your money. What’s more, when you open an account with direct deposit, you’ll earn a competitive APY and pay no account fees, which can help your money grow faster. Qualifying accounts can also access their paychecks up to two days early.

Start on your path to financial freedom with SoFi.


Is finance easy to learn?

Finance can be easy to learn if you are willing to seek out informative content from books, podcasts, videos, blogs, and even professionals and then invest some time soaking up knowledge. Learning about finance requires dedication and sometimes a little investment — but knowing how to manage your money can pay off in the long run.

What should I learn first about finance?

Some of the most fundamental personal finance concepts include building a budget, opening a bank account, and understanding your credit score. Once you have mastered those more basic concepts, you can then focus on things like retirement planning, debt consolidation, and real-estate and stock-market investing.

Can I make finance a career without a degree?

Having a degree of some kind (ideally in finance but even in mathematics or other allied areas) is very helpful for building a career in finance. Completing internships and/or industry courses outside of a college setting can put you on the right path, though you may still need a certification for a specific job in finance. For example, Certified Public Accountants and Certified Financial Advisors have completed specific programs to earn their credentials. That said, self-taught individuals might be able to build careers in creating personal-finance educational content, like podcasts and blogs.

Photo credit: iStock/fizkes

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