Introduction to American Personal Financial Literacy
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Introduction to American Personal Financial Literacy

Learn strategies to earn and retain wealth. Acquire the financial mastery and freedom you have always wanted!
0.0 (0 ratings)
Instead of using a simple lifetime average, Udemy calculates a course's star rating by considering a number of different factors such as the number of ratings, the age of ratings, and the likelihood of fraudulent ratings.
3 students enrolled
Created by Richard Thripp
Last updated 3/2016
Price: Free
  • 1.5 hours on-demand video
  • 9 Articles
  • 1 Supplemental Resource
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
What Will I Learn?
  • Apply financial knowledge to decisions involving spending, saving, debt, employment, investing, and insurance. The learner will be able to articulate pros and cons of many important personal financial issues. The learner should feel encouraged to become more financially educated and to implement strategies that promote wealth accumulation into daily life.
View Curriculum
  • Basic numeracy skills, such as understandings of arithmetic and percentages, is preferrable.
  • Awareness of one's financial situation will help the learner relate the material to his or her life. This includes one's debt balances and interest rates (credit cards, mortgages, car loans, student loans, etc.), income, investments (if any), and types and amounts of insurance held (health, homeowners', car, life, etc.).

NOTE: This course will not be completed nor published. No work was done after March 2016.

This course educates the learner on spending and saving, credit and debt, employment income, investing, risk and insurance, and financial decision making, which, when applied, can improve the learner's financial habits, leading to less stress, more opportunity, and higher quality of life. This course uses video lectures, narrated slides, text-based modules, multiple-choice quizzes, and written or typed activities that are self-assessed with provided rubrics or examples. This course is offered at no cost. It is organized into 7 units containing over 25 modules that can be skipped or accessed in any order. Completing the entire course will take 5–7 hours. The curriculum for this course is based in part on the Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy's National Standards in K–12 Personal Finance Education (4th ed., 2015) and information from government websites. Key issues identified in recent (2003–2016) peer-reviewed articles are addressed. This course is designed with cognitive load theory (Sweller), the mindset model (Dweck), and achievement goal theory (Ames) in mind.

Who is the target audience?
  • Individuals with little or intermediate financial knowledge will gain from this course. This course is free and open access. Learners do not need to proceed linearly; they may alternately choose to view only the modules that are interesting and appropriate for their present situations.
  • Individuals who are already financially educated and prudent may learn little from this course, but may enjoy the empirical research that supports much of the course content.
Compare to Other Financial Management Courses
Curriculum For This Course
26 Lectures
Unit 1: Why be financially literate?
4 Lectures 38:08

Learn about the cycle of living paycheck to paycheck and consequences of making mistakes such as paying high interest rates or having bad credit, both short-term and long-term.

Being financially illiterate leads to a failure to understand basic financial decisions. Outright bad decisions are made, which result in more debt, less savings, stress and uncertainty, and more hours worked with little to show for it.

Introduction to American Personal Financial Literacy, a Udemy course
Module 1.1 lecture recorded 2016-03-21

Module 1.1: The disastrous consequences of financial illiteracy

Do you believe that math skills are something you are "born with"? Perhaps you believe the same for personal finance skills? Research that says these skills are like a muscle that can grow with diligent effort (Dweck, 2006).

Introduction to American Personal Financial Literacy, a Udemy course
Module 1.2 video filmed 2016-03-08

Module 1.2: Adopting the growth mindset

Payday loans, rent-to-own stores, and pawn shops may help you make ends meet, but they do are incredibly disempowering in the long run (Karger, 2015). Learn about alternatives here.

Module 1.3: Avoiding payday loans and other schemes

In this activity, you will identify your financial priorities by writing a short paragraph, and then evaluating your paragraph against a rubric.

For the activity to offer maximum benefit, you should not scroll down to view the rubric until after you have written your paragraph.

Unit 1 Activity: Financial priorities self-assessment
Unit 2: Spending and Saving
7 Lectures 36:20

Learn how checking and savings accounts work, how to avoid bank fees, and how a bad ChexSystems report can prevent you from opening new accounts or even prompt banks to close your existing accounts.

Introduction to American Personal Financial Literacy, a Udemy course
Module 2.1 lecture recorded 2016-03-21

Module 2.1: Crash course on banking, fees, and ChexSystems

Learn how to set up a budget, including your regular monthly expenses, surprise expenses and less-than-monthly expenses. Also: An alternative to budgeting—make every purchase a wise purchase.

Competency: Jump$tart Coalition (2015), Spending and Saving: “Standard 1. Develop a plan for spending and saving” (p. 12).

Introduction to American Personal Financial Literacy, a Udemy course
Module 2.2 lecture recorded 2016-03-21

Module 2.2: Budgeting: Do you really need it?

This module will teach you how to calculate your net worth. Let Microsoft Excel or Google Docs do the math for you. You will learn to realistically appraise your fixed assets, tally your liquid assets, and deduct your debts and liabilities.

Introduction to American Personal Financial Literacy, a Udemy course
Module 2.3 lecture recorded 2016-03-21

Module 2.3: Calculating your net worth

Learn about cash, debit cards, and credit cards. Learn that cash may be “king,” but it definitely does not offer the best consumer protections.

Competencies: Jump$tart Coalition (2015), Spending and Saving: “Standard 3. Describe how to use different payment methods” (p. 11); Credit and Debt, “Standard 4. Summarize major consumer credit laws” (p. 18).

Introduction to American Personal Financial Literacy, a Udemy course
Module 2.4 lecture recorded 2016-03-21

Module 2.4: Consumer protection and payment methods

Learn how goal-oriented saving can motivate you and reduce your tax burden, including Health Savings Accounts and 529 qualified tuition plans.

Competency: Jump$tart Coalition (2015), Spending and Saving: “Standard 1. Develop a plan for spending and saving” (p. 12).

Introduction to American Personal Financial Literacy, a Udemy course
Module 2.5 lecture recorded 2016-03-21

Visit the following webpage for more information on 529 tuition plans:


Garbinsky, Kleese, and Anker (2014) show that goal-oriented saving is enticing to individuals who feel powerless if the goal is a high-status item–a BMW luxury car, in their example. However, individuals who feel powerful do not even care about raising their outward status with profligate spending. We might infer that if saving for a purchase, they would want something that perpetuates their power—perhaps a college education or a reliable but inexpensive car. Garbsinky et al. assert that individuals who feel powerful are more enticed by saving for no particular purpose; they further assert that money itself confers power, quoting Andrew Jackson in their opening. However, in study 5, the authors successfully demonstrated that when knowledge is seen as more empowering than money, participants’ focus shifted accordingly.

Implications of Garbinsky et al. (2014): If you feel empowered, you will be more motivated to save for the future! Once you have enough money saved to feel secure, you may lose interest in accumulating more money. Then, you may want to turn to charity and philanthropy (Unit 8).


Garbinsky, E. N., Kleese, A., & Aaker, J. (2014). Money in the bank: Feeling powerful increases saving. Journal of Consumer Research, 41, 610–623.

Module 2.5: Goal-oriented saving

Are you getting the best deal? Comparison shopping can be done from home, but there can be an overwhelming number of websites and similar products. Learn how to analyze anecdotal evidence (customer reviews) to determine if a product is right for you.

Competency: Jump$tart Coalition (2015), Spending and Saving: “Standard 4. Apply consumer skills to spending and saving decisions” (p. 12)

Introduction to American Personal Financial Literacy, a Udemy course
Module 2.6 lecture recorded 2016-03-21

Module 2.6: Comparison shopping

In this activity, you will write short “Twitter” summaries of key topics from Unit 2, which can be an enjoyable activity that promotes critical thought (Bailey, Hendricks, & Applewhite, 2015).

These “tweets” will be framed around the following topics. In a sentence of about 30 words or fewer, you should identify a problem and offer a solution or strategy.

Unit 2 Activity: Twitter summaries
Unit 3: Credit and Debt
5 Lectures 54:42

Examine the psychological research on how being in debt may cause anxiety and dread. Explore several ways to motivate yourself to get out of debt.

Competency: Jump$tart Coalition (2015), Credit and Debt: “Standard 3. Apply strategies to avoid or correct debt management problems” (p. 17).

Module 3.1: The psychological toll of debt

Learn the technicalities of credit cards including interest rates, grace periods, late fees, penalty APRs, cashback and rewards, and cardholder benefits.

Competency: Jump$tart Coalition (2015), Credit and Debt: "Standard 1. Analyze the costs and benefits of various types of credit" (p. 15).

Introduction to American Personal Financial Literacy, a Udemy course
Module 3.2 video filmed 2016-03-08

Unsecured, bank's money
Grace period track vs non-grace period track
High interest, though lower than payday loans
Cash advance interest higher than purchase interest
Failure to make min. payment = penalty APR + universal default
90 days delinquent is the worst for your credit reports
Credit cards very dangerous
Rewards typically 1-2% on all purchases, 5% categories
Be careful of reward programs that have useless points like PNC Bank. Do online searches
Large signup bonuses very lucrative, non-taxable
Get best signup bonus by searching online and being patient
Credit cards help you build credit!
Multiple cards confusing -- track online -- use calendar to keep track
Cardholder benefits vary a lot. Common: chargebacks, extended warranties
Annual fees typically not worth it. Can usually be reimbursed within 60 days
Charge cards
Can negotiate interest rates by calling in
Different networks: Visa MasterCard Discover Amex

Module 3.2: All about credit cards

Learn about the three credit bureaus, FICO vs. "FAKO" scores, how credit scores are calculated, the effects of credit inquiries, and a step-by-step plan to improve your credit score.

Competency: Jump$tart Coalition (2015), Credit and Debt: "Standard 2. Summarize a borrower's rights and responsibilities related to credit reports" (p. 16).

Introduction to American Personal Financial Literacy, a Udemy course
Module 3.3 video filmed 2016-03-08

Three credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, TransUnion
When evaluated for new tradeline: hard pulls against 1, 2, or all 3
Mortgages and car loans: typically all 3 bureaus plus extra info
FICO score = acronym for Fair, Isaac, and Company; introduced the score in 1989
FICO model used by all bureaus
FAKO scores = Estimated scores that have no bearing on FICO scores, e.g., Credit Karma
300-850 "classic" range. Above 700 = good, above 750 = very good, above 800 = excellent

Components: 35% payment history, 30% utilization, 15% age of accounts, 10% mix, 10% new credit

WHAT'S MISSING? Utility bills, rent payments, employment history, income, credit limits, and paying your credit card in full versus carrying a balance

Free annual credit report from - NOT FREE SCORES
Some credit cards offer free FICO scores now, such as Discover, Citibank, Barclay, Amex
Can also pay $19.99 per month on for daily updated credit scores
Hard pulls hurt score for 6 months to a year and remain on report for 2 years

New FICO model as of 2015 includes utility payments and address stability, but only for consumers with no existing FICO credit score

Module 3.3: The mystery of credit scores

Help Frank, a freshman college student with his first credit card, make wise credit decisions. Plus, five other interesting credit questions that will help you think critically about credit cards.

Credit cards case study and critical thought quiz
10 questions

A step-by-step guide to rebuilding your credit, written by Richard Thripp (as are all text modules in this course).

Article: Rebuilding your credit

Learn why your car is not a good investment, a better way to get a car loan, and how to negotiate the lowest price for a new or used car.

Introduction to American Personal Financial Literacy, a Udemy course
Module 3.6 video filmed 2016-03-08

Cars are almost always commodities, not investments
If you take a loan to buy a new car, you're underwater as soon as you drive off the lot
Getting a car loan from a car dealership or used car lot = bad idea
Go to your bank or credit union instead and get pre-approved for a loan
Buying used cars -- have a trusted mechanic look at
Be careful of rebuilt cars (e.g., on Craigslist)
Use as a starting point
Buying a new car -- get bottom-line cash quotes from various dealerships
Send emails
Start a bidding war
Don't go to dealerships or talk on the phone
Go to a different dealership to test drive
Be patient -- don't be fooled by car salespeople
Be wary of upgrades and dealership services
Make sure quotes include sales tax, "dealer documentation fees," and tag transfer

Module 3.6: Your car: A depreciating asset
Unit 4: Employment Income
2 Lectures 19:58

Learn approaches that are supported by cognitive psychology for doing well in job interviews and successfully asking for a raise or promotion. Also, learn how to ace the psychological questionnaires that many job applications require—answer wrong and a human may never look at your application.

Competency: Jump$tart Coalition (2015), Employment and Income: “Standard 1. Explore job and career options” (p. 21).

Module 4.1: Job interviews and promotions

Learn how Social Security deductions, Medicare deductions, workers’ compensation insurance, and income tax work, including tax brackets and standard deductions. Figure out how to calculate your net hourly pay. Also: Learn how to increase your number of “allowances” to prevent giving Uncle Sam an interest-free loan out of your paychecks.

Competency: Jump$tart Coalition (2015), Employment and Income: “Standard 3. Analyze factors that affect net income” (p. 23)

Module 4.3: Understanding payroll deductions and income taxes
Unit 5: Investing
4 Lectures 22:48

Learn how to assess a sensible level of risk tolerance based on your current age and desired retirement age. Learn about safe investments like bonds and certificates of deposits, as well as riskier investments that may yield big payoffs or might lose everything.

Competency: Jump$tart Coalition (2015), Investing: “Standard 2. Evaluate investment alternatives” (p. 26).

Introduction to American Personal Financial Literacy, a Udemy course
Module 5.1 lecture recorded 2016-03-22

Module 5.1: Defining your investment goals and risk tolerance

Learn about index funds, diversification, and why actively-managed funds almost always under-perform index funds.

Competency: Jump$tart Coalition (2015), Investing: “Standard 3. Demonstrate how to buy and sell investments” (p. 27).

Introduction to American Personal Financial Literacy, a Udemy course
Module 5.2 lecture recorded 2016-03-22

Module 5.2: Why picking stocks hardly ever works

Learn about empirical evidence about the value of home ownership, including  information on property taxes and homeowners’ associations. Also: Lessons from the past on how to tell when real estate prices are in a “bubble.”

Introduction to American Personal Financial Literacy, a Udemy course
Module 5.3 lecture recorded 2016-03-22

Module 5.3: Pros and cons of home ownership

Learn to understand compound interest rates, retirement plans, 401(k) and Roth IRAs, employer matching, and the benefits of tax deferment. Learn how your Social Security benefits are calculated, and how to determine the best age to begin receiving them.

Competency: Jump$tart Coalition (2015), Investing: “Standard 1. Explain how investing may build wealth and help meet financial goals” (p. 25).

Introduction to American Personal Financial Literacy, a Udemy course
Module 5.4 lecture recorded 2016-03-22

Module 5.4: How to retire in style

This 7-item multiple choice quiz will assess your knowledge of key investing principles from Unit 5, giving you a window into your newfound level of investment expertise.

Investing quiz
7 questions
Unit 6: Risk and Insurance
3 Lectures 35:39

Learn the risks for identity theft and the methods thieves use. Learn how to proactively monitor your credit reports for free. Bonus: How to keep track of your account passwords without reusing the same password over and over.

Competency: Jump$tart Coalition (2015), Financial Decision Making: “Standard 7. Control personal information” (p. 41)

Module 6.1: Understanding and avoiding identity theft

Learn about the fundamental purpose of insurance, and use this knowledge as a lens to judge the types of insurance that are must-haves and the types that are frivolous.

Competency: Jump$tart Coalition (2015), Risk Management and Insurance, "Standard 1. Identify common types of risks and basic risk management methods" (p. 31).

Introduction to American Personal Financial Literacy, a Udemy course
Module 6.2 video filmed 2016-03-08

Cover large and unexpected expenses
Life insurance for breadwinner makes sense
Children's life insurance doesn't make sense
Comprehensive and collision auto insurance not worth it for old cars
Don't pay for trip insurance
"Cadillac" health insurance plans often overpriced
Free insurance often offered by your credit card
Extended warranties not worth it; store personnel tell lies

Module 6.2: When is insurance a good idea?

Learn how car insurance companies offer wildly different quotes through different channels. Learn how to make sure you are getting the discounts you deserve, and how making a “lump sum” semiannual payment can save you hundreds over monthly payments. Also: Learn about your Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (CLUE) report, how to request it for free from LexisNexis, and why even talking to an insurance agent about a potential claim can raise your rates.

Module 6.3: How to lower your car insurance premiums
Unit 7: Financial Decision Making
1 Lecture 06:26

If time is money, even the decision to watch TV costs you money! Learn to consider the financial consequences of day-to-day decisions; empower yourself financially and you will be able to focus on what is important to you in life.

Competencies: Jump$tart Coalition (2015), Financial Decision Making: "Standard 1. Recognize the responsibilities associated with personal financial decisions" (p. 35); Financial Decision Making: "Standard 4. Make criterion-based financial decisions by systematically considering alternatives and consequences" (p. 38).

Introduction to American Personal Financial Literacy, a Udemy course
Module 7.1 video filmed 2016-03-08

Opportunity cost
Value of time
"Missing the forest for the trees"
Career decisions
Education decisions
Living and housing arrangements
Recordkeeping and data management
Purchase decisions
Wasting food

Module 7.1: Every decision has financial consequences
About the Instructor
Richard Thripp
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3 Students
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Education graduate student at University of Central Florida

I'm a student in the M.A. in Applied Learning & Instruction at University of Central Florida. In my courses, I implement teaching strategies based on motivational and self-regulatory evidence. My present interests include financial literacy education and implicit theories of intelligence, or, "mindsets." I will be completing my M.A. in May 2016 and beginning my Ph.D. in Education, Instructional Technology track (also at UCF) in August 2016.