When I was fresh out of school, I thought taking care of my finances meant not getting into debt. However, later I learned that I would need debt for big purchases like my first car.

Then I discovered credit cards. Whoops.

Luckily, due to a unique partnership between Khan Academy and Bank of America, I’m now taking some great FREE financial courses through a program called "Better Money Habits." The website offers a series of courses in nine key financial topics.

Read on to learn more about what these free courses from Better Money Habits can teach you and your whole family!

How to use Better Money Habits

You don't have to be a Bank of America customer or a member of Khan Academy to use Better Money Habits.

Each course you take is supplemented with excellent, detailed graphic visuals, a summary called "Key Takeaways," and even a quiz at the end to be sure you understood all the concepts. Best of all, the more courses you take, the more you begin to form a "big picture" perspective of how to plan wisely for ongoing financial health.

9 Free courses for good financial skills

1. Credit

In this course series, you’ll learn about credit from the ground up. Your first course teaches you what a credit score is, how to read your score, and what differentiates a credit "report" from a credit "score."

You’ll then learn how to begin building your credit score and how to monitor and boost it (including getting a copy of your credit score for FREE from resources like Credit Sesame). The next course addresses credit cards, how many to open, and how much of a balance you can carry without lowering your credit.

From here, learn how to address errors on your credit report and what happens if you get a negative mark on your credit. Finally, listen to experts (including Khan Academy's founder, Sal Khan) discuss credit comprehensively in a panel setting.

2. Saving and Budgeting

Saving and budgeting have a direct impact on your credit score. This section starts you off by teaching you how to set a budget based on what your take-home pay is—and stick to it. You’ll also learn more about how using coupons can impact your ability to stick to your budget! You’ll also learn 7 steps to stay financially fit that you can start using right away.

From here, you begin to learn about the importance of building your emergency fund. Learn specific techniques to "find" money to set aside by lowering your expenses, using coupons, sticking to your budget, and more.

3. Debt

If you’re in debt, these courses can teach you how to work your way back out, and this time with a true understanding of how credit card interest works, which repayment method (Snowball or High-Rate) is best for you, and how to know when declaring bankruptcy may be the best option.

You’ll also learn the dangers of "revolving credit" and compounding interest.

4. Home Buying and Renting

In this section, learn about how to know when you’re ready to move from renting to owning. Find out why 20% is an ideal down payment for a mortgage, and how to find the lowest interest rate.

Also decide if you’re financially healthy enough to be able to devote approximately 28% of your income to your housing, and how to start saving towards your transition. 

5. Taxes

No one enjoys filing their taxes, but we all enjoy getting those tax refunds! In this section, learn to decide whether it’s more advantageous to file separately or jointly if you’re married. Learn how to itemize deductions to increase your tax benefit, and when to use the 1040EZ.

Finally, you’ll walk step-by-step through paycheck withholdings to ensure you fill out employment withholding forms correctly and account for retirement deductions, state taxes, and other deductions.

6. Car Buying

When buying a car, you have two main options—leasing or buying outright. In this section, you’ll learn the benefits of each, and also examine whether you should buy a used or a new car.

 

7. Personal Banking and Security

Keeping money in your bank account isn't always as simple as you think. Find out how "gray charges" can reduce your balance, and learn how to monitor your accounts for suspicious charges.

Also consider the benefits of using debit versus credit cards, and find out the 10 key questions to ask about your bank account before selecting a new bank.

Before concluding this section, you’ll also learn 10 essential tips to protect yourself from fraud and identity theft.

8. Paying for School

Paying for school is guaranteed to make a dent in your income, so it’s a decision not to be made lightly. In this section, learn three key ways to reduce the cost of higher education, why subsidized loans are preferable to unsubsidized loans, and how to use FAFSA to find aid money.

Finally, when repaying student loans, learn how the "grace period" works, plus other aids like deferment or loan consolidation that can help if you run into trouble with repayment. 

9. Families and Money

In this final section, learn how to set money rules that teach your children good financial habits right from the start. Also discover key teachable moments, and why using three piggy banks may be better than one!

Also discover how to set your child's allowance and other financial rewards, when to start the allowance, and when to introduce concepts like budgeting and saving.

 

Related article: 6 Budgeting Apps Every Spender Needs to Know About