Do you need a crash course in personal finances? That could be anything from how to write a budget to property investment or even financial market analysis. It just depends where you're at in your financial education. Studying a little about money and personal finance can go a long way.
Personal finance education is available in person, and online at every level starting right from how to cook on a budget, spend less, and budget right through to value investing and online trading.
There is something for everyone who wants to improve their financial knowledge. Sometimes you can even study through the world's top universities for free. The options are varied:
More than 1500 Kiwis took a CAP Money course in 2018. The three-session courses cover building a budget, balancing it, how to set up your bank accounts to manage your money better, how to plan your savings, and dealing with debt.
Some have extra components such as retirement, self-employment and couples and money. The courses are run through 150 churches around the country, but you don't need to be a member of the congregation.
Other community courses are run by the GeneNow Financial Literacy Trust (Facebook.com/genenowlfhw) and Sorted (tinyurl.com/SortedCourses) in partnership with community organisations. ANZ's MoneyMinded courses have helped many Kiwis.
I remember fondly the years of taking night courses at local schools. A few still operate. Selwyn College, for example, offers courses in Planning a Financial Future, How to Master Saving and Budgeting, and others.
Rutherford High School also offers a variety of worthy personal finance courses and has upcoming single-session workshops about KiwiSaver in June and Residential Property Investment in November. Always check out who the tutors are by googling them to ensure they don't have something to sell.
In the workplace
Ask your boss to run a Sorted course in your workplace. Large employers such as the Police, Defence Force, The Warehouse, Z Energy and others are running them currently or have in the past.
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There are endless numbers of financial webinars available online. Westpac, for example, offers webinars on topics such as spending and budgeting, dealing with debt and avoiding scams and fraud, all good topics to improve your financial understanding and wellbeing.
In the 21st century you can study almost anything online. Find courses on education portals such as edX, Coursera, Khanacademy, Alison, Udemy and other websites. Udemy alone offers 799 courses under the banner of "personal finance", the most popular of which is the US$12.99 ($20) Investing in Stocks: The Complete Course (11 hours).
Many specialist financial websites such as Morningstar and Investopedia offer investing classes online. You may not be able to learn about KiwiSaver specifically in a US- or UK-based course, but you'll come away with good general knowledge.
Back to uni
Some of the world's top universities such as Harvard offer online courses. Often they're free of charge and sometimes called MOOCS, which stands for Massive Open Online Courses.
MOOC courses can involve quite sophisticated learning. If required, you can with some courses pay for a certificate to show that you've completed the learning. For example, you can participate in the International Monetary Fund's Financial Market Analysis course for free. If you want the certificate to show you did it that will cost you US$25.
Get a mentor
More than 135 budgeting organisations around the country provide free face-to-face mentoring. They don't only always deal with people who are deeply in debt and have expertise on a wide range of financial issues. Local mentors can be found at: moneytalks.co.nz/find-a-service/
Use your library
There is no end of good personal finance books that you can learn from in the library or at a good book seller. You can also buy a number of very good personal finance magazines in New Zealand including Juno, The New Zealand Property Investor Magazine and others.
Two of the more addictive local Facebook groups for me are Following the Barefoot Investor - New Zealand and the Property Investors Chat Group NZ. The Sharetrader.co.nz and Propertytalk.com forums are busy as well.
There is a never-ending stream of discussion in all these groups, but beware of the know-it-alls who sometimes offer suggestions that are worse than nothing.
Educate your kids
Sorted offers learning packages for schools if you want your teenager to get a good financial start in life and so too does the ASB GetWise programme. Financially literate children are less of a drain on the family finances.
My final point is to be very wary of "courses" that are simply sales pitches for very expensive training. If you're being asked to pay thousands of dollars to learn the "secrets" of something, just buy the book. It's okay to pay a small sum for a course. If it's hundreds or thousands of dollars do your research before signing up.