Welcome, one and all, to Financial Literacy Month. Yes, April is the month when the federal government has set aside to help educate the public about finances and money management, in cooperation with numerous state governments and independent organizations. And this year it’s especially important, given the broader economic situation.
For my part, I’ve resolved to spend the rest of the month adding as much basic financial information to my blog as possible. Just as you can’t build a house without first laying down the foundation, you can’t build up your financial knowledge without a firm understanding of basic financial and money-management concepts.
One of the first things I did when I started to care more about my finances was to learn everything I could about money and investing. Some of my favorite sites for researching basic concepts:
1) The Motley Fool School – The Motley Fool, one of the first sites I encountered, has an abundance of information, covering a variety of finance related subjects. The best place to start, particularly if you are just beginning to learn about stocks and other investments, is in their ‘basics’ section. You’ll find numerous well-written, highly informative articles covering a variety of subjects, most with more than a touch of humor to them.
A word of warning, though: the Motley Fool strongly favors investing in individual stocks. The site is also known for an (over)abundance of articles that end with pitches for their premium services, wherein they recommend which stocks to buy or sell. If you find such pitches distasteful or have little interest in individual stock investing, you should limit how much time you spend on the Motley Fool site.
2) Investopedia – Another great site that has helped me advance my financial education a great deal, Investopedia has a huge number of articles directed at starting investors. One article I found particularly interesting was their guide to twenty investments every investor should know; if you’ve ever wondered what a ‘zero coupon bond’ is or why people invest in ‘Real Estate Investment Trusts’, this is an excellent guide.
Investopedia also has an extensive investment dictionary, with thousands of entries covering all kinds of subjects. If there’s a more exotic investment you’d like to research, or you’ve simply heard an unusual phrase being brandished on CNBC, you can look up in the Investopedia dictionary. Plus, it can be entertaining in its own right; how many other places can you read about the Paris Hilton stock index, for example?
3) Money 101 – The investing basics site created by CNN-Money Magazine, covering numerous topics in a clear and comprehensible manner. I enjoy Money Magazine quite a bit, and the website is a good companion to the magazine. One of the most interesting features is that each of the two dozen lessons comes with a quiz to test your knowledge (and make sure you were really paying attention).
Exploring the rest of the Money website leads to some other helpful assets, like an array of retirement calculators. One that particularly struck me was the net worth calculator. Apparently, I’m about three thousand dollars short of the average net worth for someone my age.
4) Other Blogs – Not to sound too proud of my compatriots, but there’s plenty of useful and interesting information out there on other blogs. J.D. of Get Rich Slowly just published a compedium of investing basics last week, to kick off Financial Literacy Month. And My Life ROI has covered some of the basics of calculating taxes. A complete list of the useful information on other personal finance blogs would fill numerous blog entries by itself; the best way to see what’s out there is to read a few entries from any blog that looks interesting to you. You can start with my Blogroll, for some of the blogs I try to follow.
5) My Blog! – Alright, a little bit of self-promotion to finish off this entry. As you might know, since you are reading my blog, I try to be informative. If you are looking for some of my most educational posts, you can check out all of my Investing 101 posts; I have covered stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and ETFs, with more information coming soon.
Hopefully, these sources will get you off to a good start, learning as much as you can during this Financial Literacy Month. Have an informative and entertaining month.