Author Topic: For those who may be new to PF and/or like to take courses.....  (Read 2332 times)

kdms

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For those who may be new to PF and/or like to take courses.....
« on: December 29, 2012, 03:30:32 AM »
Happy holidays to everyone, whatever your background!

Looking back over 2012, I'm pretty happy with the progress my family has made in becoming more aware of our personal finance situation and our responses and have been slowly developing a plan of attack for the future.  We've come far enough into the journey for financial independence that I've started to get the itch to become more proactive in our planning, and realized just the other day that out of all the topics listed in this forum, I've really only been looking through the first four headings on a regular basis.  I've been avoiding the 'Investor Alley' heading because I don't understand a good chunk of the discussion that goes on in there....I just don't know enough about the basics of financial planning to understand what's going on.

So, as part of my personal 2013 pacts to myself, I've signed up for a basic course in personal finance, and thought perhaps others on this site that may be in the same situation as myself might be interested.

 https://www.coursera.org/#course/financialplanning?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=december

This course is a free online course offered through Coursera.org, from the University of California (Irvine Campus) and is being taught over a period of six weeks, beginning Jan 14, 2013, by a personal financial planner who specializes in wealth accumulation for younger individuals, 'sudden wealth' situations, as well as the usual retirement and pension planning.

I've tried to educate myself through various avenues, but sometimes it's just more comfortable for me to start with a course and then continue my education through my own research; right now I feel I don't know enough to even ask intelligent questions.  Hopefully this can be helpful for others out there as well!  :)


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Re: For those who may be new to PF and/or like to take courses.....
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2012, 06:07:16 AM »
If you want a traditional financial planner point of view, this might be something to look at.  The company that this person works with, LPL Financial, is geared towards people with no knowledge.  They will be happy to explain the basics and set you up with a canned mix of funds plus annuities and life insurance, charging you as a "fee only" financial planner to do it.  In your shoes, I would approach this class with a high degree of skepticism, but use it to get familiar with some basic ideas.

It's sad that this is the best personal finance education a UC campus can find to sponsor. 

Another Reader

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Re: For those who may be new to PF and/or like to take courses.....
« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2012, 06:29:18 AM »
To continue the thought....

These folks have a vested interest in convincing you that you need to make a plan and invest and that investing is too difficult to do on your own.  They will explain why you need a plan but they will throw investing concepts out in a way that is designed to convince you to get the help of a professional "advisor."  If you get only one thing out of reading MMM, it should be you can do this yourself and get an equal or better result.

I have sent several friends to Schwab and Fidelity to take their free seminars on investing and planning.  Obviously they give these seminars with the idea you will decide to open an account, but there is a lot of good information given without the financial planner angle.  These companies are more oriented toward the independent individual investor and the seminars are low key with no sales pitch.  You can attend a basic investing seminar, a seminar on IRA's, or a seminar on fixed income investing.  Didn't understand the material the first time?  The same seminar comes up again in a couple of months.  A lot of them are even available on-line. 

Some reading is necessary to really understand investing, but a low key, no pressure one or two hour class with other folks in your situation can make you feel a lot more comfortable getting started. 

smalllife

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Re: For those who may be new to PF and/or like to take courses.....
« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2012, 09:23:43 AM »
I signed up for this course, not so much to learn the basics but to fill in gaps in my knowledge.  I'm hoping that they go over the vocabulary of investing and perhaps explain investing vehicles so that I can understand the advanced-Mustachian conversations here and better plan for my future.  Just because it is sponsored doesn't mean that there isn't information to be learned.  And if I find it is too basic for my needs I'll stop watching.

Don't knock people trying to educate themselves.
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arebelspy

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Re: For those who may be new to PF and/or like to take courses.....
« Reply #4 on: December 29, 2012, 09:31:56 AM »
Don't knock people trying to educate themselves.

I don't think AR was doing that at all, rather pointing out that one might want to be a bit skeptical of this source.  If someone was trying to educate themselves on personal finance and went to a credit card company's seminar, it may be prudent to advise them similarly.

By all means, please, educate yourself.  Take this course, and learn what they have to say.  But don't necessarily believe everything they have to say.  Go in with a slight healthy skepticism, then ask here if you have any questions./concerns about something they said - especially if it concerns investing as DIY versus having someone else do it for you.  And afterward continue educating yourself.

Back on topic, thanks for sharing this opportunity, kdms.  I think it could be very helpful to many people.
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kdms

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Re: For those who may be new to PF and/or like to take courses.....
« Reply #5 on: December 29, 2012, 11:24:58 AM »
I signed up for this course, not so much to learn the basics but to fill in gaps in my knowledge.  I'm hoping that they go over the vocabulary of investing and perhaps explain investing vehicles so that I can understand the advanced-Mustachian conversations here and better plan for my future.  Just because it is sponsored doesn't mean that there isn't information to be learned.  And if I find it is too basic for my needs I'll stop watching.

Don't knock people trying to educate themselves.


Thanks, smalllife, that's pretty much exactly why I'm taking it as well.  And I usually take a salt shaker with me when I start a course like this. ;)

I do appreciate what AR was getting at....we've had a financial planner in the past and have been vastly displeased with the results.  All I'm looking to get out of the course is a slightly more ordered approach to 'intro to investment vehicles'....which will help me plan my own course of research and reading down the line.

And of course, considering I'm in Canada, I have to bear in mind that quite a few rules and regs that I'm pretty sure are going to be shared aren't applicable for myself anyways, and I'll have to do my own research to figure out what's available here.

Always happy to share opportunities!  :)

yolfer

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Re: For those who may be new to PF and/or like to take courses.....
« Reply #6 on: January 15, 2013, 12:01:28 PM »
Anyone else taking this course? It just started yesterday.

I signed up out of interest. So far it's been remedial for me personally but I'm so glad to see that there are 85K other folks who are going to learn this kind of stuff. Even if I only learn one or two new things, it'll be time well spent.

NumberCruncher

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Re: For those who may be new to PF and/or like to take courses.....
« Reply #7 on: January 15, 2013, 12:44:26 PM »
I signed up out of curiosity - Listening to the first lecture now.

I like the idea of this course since you can fill in gaps in knowledge and test yourself, as opposed to just reading and not reinforcing new knowledge. It's also nice for people new to PF.

Right now it's talking about emergency funds - I like how he's explaining it - Saying the amount in your emergency fund depends on your specific situation (high volatility job -> need more months of living expenses), and how it doesn't necessarily need to be in cash (like how money market, CDs, and home equity count).

Haven't heard anything particularly "off" yet. Pretty basic so far, though.

smalllife

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Re: For those who may be new to PF and/or like to take courses.....
« Reply #8 on: January 17, 2013, 05:35:04 PM »
I just finished week one.

I really like how the transcript is written on the slide show - I vastly prefer to read than listen (it goes faster and I can re-read).

So far it's pretty basic but I think the tax refresher right before tax time will be really helpful :-)
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yolfer

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Re: For those who may be new to PF and/or like to take courses.....
« Reply #9 on: January 18, 2013, 04:55:29 PM »
I just finished week one.

I really like how the transcript is written on the slide show - I vastly prefer to read than listen (it goes faster and I can re-read).

So far it's pretty basic but I think the tax refresher right before tax time will be really helpful :-)

Agreed on the transcript/closed-captions. I also like being able to speed up the lesson.

GoStumpy

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Re: For those who may be new to PF and/or like to take courses.....
« Reply #10 on: January 18, 2013, 05:07:19 PM »
I just signed up for this, and will be going over it tonight!

THANKS for the link!

https://www.coursera.org/course/introfinance

That is what I was looking at taking originally, but I think I need to brush up on my math skills first, so thanks for a course I can take on the interim :)
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TomTX

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Re: For those who may be new to PF and/or like to take courses.....
« Reply #11 on: January 20, 2013, 10:12:36 PM »
I signed up out of curiosity - Listening to the first lecture now.

I like the idea of this course since you can fill in gaps in knowledge and test yourself, as opposed to just reading and not reinforcing new knowledge. It's also nice for people new to PF.

Right now it's talking about emergency funds - I like how he's explaining it - Saying the amount in your emergency fund depends on your specific situation (high volatility job -> need more months of living expenses), and how it doesn't necessarily need to be in cash (like how money market, CDs, and home equity count).

Haven't heard anything particularly "off" yet. Pretty basic so far, though.

Home equity does NOT count, unless you already have an unbreakable line-of-credit contract in place. Even then, I'm really iffy at using debt for an emergency fund.

Getting quite close to: Why have an emergency fund when I have credit cards?

arebelspy

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Re: For those who may be new to PF and/or like to take courses.....
« Reply #12 on: January 20, 2013, 10:55:26 PM »
Getting quite close to: Why have an emergency fund when I have credit cards?

I absolutely agree with this line of thinking, especially for someone with decent income and a high savings rate (thus high monthly cash flow).
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GoStumpy

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Re: For those who may be new to PF and/or like to take courses.....
« Reply #13 on: January 20, 2013, 11:10:14 PM »
I believe as a general rule...

A real emergency fund is 3-6 months of expenses, the "mini 1k e-fund" is just a starter to help while debt is paid off.

Therefore, if there is an emergency, layoff, medical emergency, that is NOT a good time to go into debt!  Emergencies are hard enough emotionally, we shouldn't also make them a financial disaster as well...

If you are able to charge, and then pay off (through savings), then you already had an emergency fund... and it wasn't your credit cards!
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arebelspy

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Re: For those who may be new to PF and/or like to take courses.....
« Reply #14 on: January 21, 2013, 12:05:56 AM »
If that works for you, great.

Do what lets you sleep at night.

I personally prefer more mathematically optimal plans, and every person's situation is different, so I don't care for blanket rules like "6 months emergency fund."

Again, YMMV.
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smalllife

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Re: For those who may be new to PF and/or like to take courses.....
« Reply #15 on: January 21, 2013, 08:49:42 AM »
I believe as a general rule...

A real emergency fund is 3-6 months of expenses, the "mini 1k e-fund" is just a starter to help while debt is paid off.

I believe in questioning "general rules", especially when those general rule are put in place by those that profit from them (banks able to earn money on your 3-6 months expenses sitting in a zero interest checking account for example). The discussion forums for the course are overwhelmingly saying keep it in cash (not even in a bank, but cash under the mattress).   

For the record, my personal opinion is that an emergency fund should be multi-tiered: 1k in cash/checking for things you can't cash flow/couldn't plan for (this also happens to be the deductible on all of my insurance plans, which gives me a little extra piece of mind), 3-6 month expenses invested in a manner befitting your particular risk factor (Roth IRA in index funds being my preference, but YMMV). 

I'm also of the school of thought that very few things constitute as an emergency if you put some thought into it. 

Lose my job? Pick up more hours at my side job, which supplemented with my rental income should sustain me on a bare bones spending level.  I have job loss savings, but because I have back up plans in place I feel comfortable having those funds invested. 

Major car repair?  Grow some balls and sell the car.  Replace with a scooter for the trips I am not comfortable doing by bike.

Major home repair?  I have that 1k insurance deductible set aside for catastrophic events.  Monitoring the state of the home should give me enough warning to save for any time-damage repairs.  If not?  Just save a little less until I pay it off.

Injury or sickness? Insurance then dip into the invested savings if necessary.  This is the only one that can really blindside a person, but it's also the one least worth worrying about in my opinion.  It will either happen or it won't: if I have to pay a penalty on tax-advantaged funds to have a live-saving surgery so be it. 

In all of these, the "mini 1k efund" plays a role.  I think it is more about getting out of debt.  1k is sufficient to handle most "emergencies" when combined with other directed savings, hence why I keep mine in a savings account.
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GoStumpy

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Re: For those who may be new to PF and/or like to take courses.....
« Reply #16 on: January 21, 2013, 12:29:54 PM »


I believe in questioning "general rules", especially when those general rule are put in place by those that profit from them (banks able to earn money on your 3-6 months expenses sitting in a zero interest checking account for example). The discussion forums for the course are overwhelmingly saying keep it in cash (not even in a bank, but cash under the mattress).   



Nobody said 3-6 month should be sitting in a zero interest account, but it DOES need to be an 'accessible' investment, something you can get to in a hurry if necessary.  IE, non retirement!
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MrMoneyMotivator

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Re: For those who may be new to PF and/or like to take courses.....
« Reply #17 on: January 21, 2013, 12:41:04 PM »
To continue the thought....

These folks have a vested interest in convincing you that you need to make a plan and invest and that investing is too difficult to do on your own.  They will explain why you need a plan but they will throw investing concepts out in a way that is designed to convince you to get the help of a professional "advisor."  If you get only one thing out of reading MMM, it should be you can do this yourself and get an equal or better result.


Agreed Mr AR!

Two books that are more than worth the cycle ride to the library:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Intelligent-Investor-Collins-Business-Essentials/dp/0060555661/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1358797022&sr=8-1
http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Intelligent-Asset-Allocator-Portfolio/dp/0071362363/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1358797050&sr=8-1

I am not a math(s) genius, and yet I was able to follow along with the majority of the lessons in these books with the odd Wiki-Google search :)

The real gist of the second book is that you can do better (yes, better!) than any investment firm by buying passive funds and rebalancing your portfolio only when needed.  An eye opening book for those of us who tried to play the market in the past and got burnt... Live and Learn! 

NumberCruncher

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Re: For those who may be new to PF and/or like to take courses.....
« Reply #18 on: January 22, 2013, 07:16:21 AM »
I signed up out of curiosity - Listening to the first lecture now.

I like the idea of this course since you can fill in gaps in knowledge and test yourself, as opposed to just reading and not reinforcing new knowledge. It's also nice for people new to PF.

Right now it's talking about emergency funds - I like how he's explaining it - Saying the amount in your emergency fund depends on your specific situation (high volatility job -> need more months of living expenses), and how it doesn't necessarily need to be in cash (like how money market, CDs, and home equity count).

Haven't heard anything particularly "off" yet. Pretty basic so far, though.

Home equity does NOT count, unless you already have an unbreakable line-of-credit contract in place. Even then, I'm really iffy at using debt for an emergency fund.

Getting quite close to: Why have an emergency fund when I have credit cards?

I meant home equity line of credit - like what MMM has

This is why I need a course - so I don't make terminology mistakes like that >.<