10 Steps to Financial Freedom - A Course in Personal Finance
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10 Steps to Financial Freedom - A Course in Personal Finance

Get a clear, complete guide to debt pay, retirement, and investment complete with editable excel sheets for your plan.
5.0 (1 rating)
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.
37 students enrolled
Created by Vanessa Ralph
Last updated 7/2014
Current price: $10 Original price: $20 Discount: 50% off
5 hours left at this price!
30-Day Money-Back Guarantee
  • 30 mins on-demand video
  • 2 Articles
  • 4 Supplemental Resources
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
What Will I Learn?
  • Organize your expenses by the date they are due.
  • Never forget a bill payment again, no more late fees!
  • See a quick overview of your financial situation and simplify these hairy finances.
  • Now you can have a complete picture of your budget, any excess cash flow you may be earning, and a window by window overview of your debts.
  • Made customizable for individuals with a variable income or 1099 independent contractor status as well as for people who have automatic deductions made for their taxes via a W2.
  • Quickly and accurately obtain a grasp on your financial health!
  • Estimate a payoff debt for each debt (or let the built in formulas do it for you) and determine your goal date for becoming DEBT FREE!
  • - Now you can have a complete picture of your debt liability and the time it will take for you to free yourself of interest shackles using a debt snowball!
  • - Ensure your payments and interest rate do not send you into an endless debt cycle.
  • Learn the tried and true sources of passive income
  • Assess your assets!
  • Let's get you to a better place financially!
View Curriculum
  • Excel or PDF viewer
  • A checking/savings account
  • A sturdy calculator
  • Willingness to free yourself of debt
  • Ambition!

The COURSE IS OPEN! I add new stuff regularly so keep an eye out (: the excel sheets have intuitive built-in formulas to help you quickly calculate your debt snowball, total expenses, interest costs, and loan amortization schedules.

Please feel free to write me and ask any questions! I will be happy to customize sheets for you if your computer is giving you a rough time. They are in excel format. I also have numbers for mac versions if you'd prefer to apple way! Just email and I will send them to you.

A little about me: I am a classic lifetime learner and jack of all trades. The fellas who podcast Freakonomics (Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt), Dave Ramsey, and Robert Kiyosaki (author of Rich Dad/Poor Dad) are my financial heroes.

Near my mid-twenties, a concern began to creep over me. I finished the degrees I sought to acquire, married, had my first child, and began to wonder about the future I was quickly approaching.

It would be a future involving a high debt-to-income ratio, one of minimum payments, murderous interest rates, tireless hours of work, and no savings.

I could NOT let this become my future. So I began researching, analyzing, and definitely obsessing over my finances. Our future is organized, bright, and now we have a plan that is easy to follow and even easier to maintain.

I wish the same for you and yours. The best way to receive is to give and I hope to give the tools necessary to simplify the struggles associated with developing a financial plan.

No gimmicks, no "too good to be true", and no "hacks" to financial freedom. Just the tried and true methods that anyone can follow in a short amount of time.

This course is a course designed for:

  • An in depth look into your personal finances
  • Paying off debt quickly using a Debt Snowball and THEN a Debt AVALANCHE
  • Saving for Retirement
  • Investing
  • Finding sources of Passive Income
  • Building your assets and reducing your liabilities
Who is the target audience?
  • ANYONE interested in removing themselves from an endless cycle of debt, payments, and negative interest.
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Curriculum For This Course
Quickly Automate your Expenses and Make Budgeting a Breeze
4 Lectures 16:21


I am thrilled you have chosen me to help guide you through the chasm of finance, budgeting, debt pay, and asset building! Please let me know if you have any questions: nextgen.curriculumdesign@gmail.com.

All the downloadable content: lecture descriptions, excel sheets, PDF print outs are available within each lecture! Best of luck!

An Introduction to the Course

Let's start with your expenses! There is so much you can learn about how you spend money.

Log in to your checking account and any credit cards you may be using to pay for stuff. Find last month's statement and print it out. Get a few different color pens, or a set of symbols, and create a code for you to separate into the following categories:

  1. Debt payment (anything you are repaying that has an interest rate associated to it)
  2. Bill payment (anything reoccurring): Within bills, circle/highlight/take note of the dates these bills are withdrawn on your statement and label how you want (Water bill, cable, internet, cell, netflix, car insurance etc.)
  3. Other (everything else): For everything else, separate into the following categories: Going out to eat, grocery shopping, gas for your car, and healthcare expenses. Anything that doesn't fit into one of those 4 categories will be labeled "random".
Knowing the total amounts of automatic withdrawals is essential to having a grasp on the amount of money that needs to be in your account. The first step to getting out of debt and moving forward financially is making sure you plug up any drains on your income.

Once your debts and bill payments are laid out, the next step would involve calling each entity to either lower your interest rate or lower your overall costs.

STEP 1: Take a Look @ Your Expenses

So you've gone through and evaluated JUST HOW MUCH you spend each month on debts and reoccurring bills.

The next BIG thing you can do to help your financial situation is to go through one debt and one bill at a time and see if you can lower the corresponding interest rate (via refinance or negotiation) and/or lessen the services you have billed to your name (via canceling, lowering your packages/expectations, or negotiation).

QUIZ 1: Let's get a move on those Bills! Never get a Late Payment charge again!
2 questions

The Zero-Balance Budget with Seven Categories (keeping it super simple, lots of categories will cause you lots of stress in the long run, you may even get discouraged and stop caring). Please add up your totals using last month's statement in each of the following:

  1. Housing - rent, mortgage, property taxes, insurance (whether renter's or homeowner's)
    2. Debt payment - anything you are paying back whether it's a credit card payment, student loans, IRS installment agreements, car loans, etc.
    On the budget worksheet each of your debt payments should have their own space to help you visualize each one as a hurdle to overcome. Feel free to label them in such a way that distinguishes them from one another.

    3. Healthcare and Insurance - (all insurance except for your renters/home insurance) Ex. car insurance, life and health insurance, and any health care expenses like prescriptions, doctors visits, copays, etc. A.

    If you are paying back a hospital bill, be sure to put that into the debt payments or bill category (depending on whether they are charging you interest).

    4. Groceries

    5. Going out to eat

    Make sure you separate which charges are for groceries and which involve going out to eat or drink.

    6. Bills - everything you worked out in lecture one that involves a monthly payment for a service you want/need.

    Don't just include your water, power, gas but also anything you live on. For example, gym memberships, cable/internet, cell phones, document storage like Dropbox, lawn care, netflix/hulu, or anything that has a regular monthly expense for which you pay.

    7. The "Random" category. This category is for anything else you spend money on that doesn't qualify in the previous categories. Bought a dress for your sisters wedding? Downloaded an app? Went to the movies? Dropped a few bucks on office supplies? Gas $$$ should also go into the Random Category.

    Add up your budget categories and get a final number for the month(s) prior. This will give you a clear idea of how you need to budget your money.

    NOTE: If you are a 1099 employee you will need to have an extra category for "Saving for Taxes". If you spend less than you earn, you get to have an extra category called "Cash Flow!".

Preview 08:17

This quiz involves automating your bank account to set each of your transactions to a particular budget (saves you hours and hours of time!) also learn about the one account you need NOW!

QUIZ 2: Automating your Budget and the ONE ACCOUNT YOU NEED!
2 questions

There is no point to making a budget if you do not intend to actively stick to it! So to check your progress at the end of each week:

  1. Log into your automated budget system (whether Mint.com or your banks websites)
  2. Pull up your 7 day totals for the categories.
  3. Edit the cells on your excel sheet to reflect these totals.
  4. Assess how you are doing!

This will provide you the information you need to assess whether you're doing well or if you should cut back on a particular category.

You may not have known before JUST HOW MUCH money you spend week by week!
STEP 3: Actually Sticking to your Awesome Budget
1 page
Let's Get you out of DEBT without Crushing your Soul in the Process
4 Lectures 12:59

Using your monthly statements (provided by your lender), write in your statement balances for each month.

This step is critical for one purpose and one purpose alone:

From the perspective of a lender, it is better to have the debtor (you) make minimum payments that will only marginally decrease the principal balance on your loan.

If you do not see a decent drop month-to-month in your balance you should take the following steps:

  1. Call your lender and ask for a lower interest rate or negotiate a lower balance.
  2. Do not let them run your credit.
  3. If they refuse, contact another lender and ask if you qualify to refinance and transfer/consolidate your balance.
  4. If they ask to run your credit, evaluate whether or not it is worth it to do so.
  5. If none of the above works out, consider the continuation of your minimum payments BUT add an extra amount ($10-40) each month that you can send.
  6. Make sure your extra goes ENTIRELY to the principal. This may involve a phone call to the lender or changing a payment setting on the lender's website.

You will expose so much about your lender's motives in this step!

STEP 4: Are your Debt Balances Actually Decreasing?
1 page

Alright debtors, the dirtiest of the dirty little secrets kept by your lender is the "minimum payment". You may have noticed in the lecture that you have a debt or two that are not steadily decreasing each passing month...

This may be because the "minimum payment" set by your lender does not adequeately cover the cost of compound interest with your principal balance. They can lower your monthly payments all they want or calculate it in a way that ensures you will be paying this debt every month for all of your natural born life LEGALLY. It all depends on what you agreed to in your terms for repayment.

Why do this to you? Because they make money off of your naivety/ignorance. The longer you pay monthly, the more interest they can charge, and the more you pay overall.

In this quiz, we will look at your monthly payment to ensure you are paying what you need to stay ahead of these costs.

In the next lecture, we will take a look at what your debt will REALLY cost you long term (the total amount you pay for a debt including the compounded interest).

QUIZ 3: Is your minimum payment screwing you?
5 questions

We've created your budget, taken a hard look at your bills/interest rates/debts, and ensured your minimum payments are sufficient. Now the depressing part... How much is your debt REALLY costing you?

STEP 5: How much is your debt REALLY costing you?

Snowballing payments should be a necessary objective of your debt payoff plan. However!

You may be wondering which debt you should pay off first...

  • Should you pay off the debts that have a variable interest rate before a the fixed?
  • Highest or lowest balances first?
  • Highest interest rates first?

This quiz address the financial and psychological efficacy of each strategy!

QUIZ 4: Choosing a debt pay strategy!
4 questions

A "debt snowball" involves taking each of your minimum payments and rolling them into one another as you pay each one off.

Let's say, for example, that the list below is a list of your monthly debt payments:

Debt #1: $25/month
Debt #2: $30/month
Debt #3: $500/month
Total monthly payments: $555/month

Rather than pay off these debts using just using their minimum payments and then adding the money you no longer spend each month on that debt into your discretionary income (takes forever and costs you a ton in interest), you can "snowball" your payments.

Meaning, once Debt #1 has been paid off, take that $25 a month and roll it into paying for Debt #2.

Making your Debt #2 payment = $30 + $25 or $55 a month.

Overall you still are paying the $555 a month in debt payments, but now you could GREATLY decrease the amount of time it will take you to pay off your debts all while saving you a TON in interest.

How much interest you say? Let's find out!

STEP 6: What is a debt snowball?

Here's the BIG excel sheet with the most detailed outlook on your amortization schedule, debt pay strategy, your debt snowball, and most important your DEBT FREE DATE!

Preview 07:16
Step-by-Step Goals to Guide you to Financial Freedom and Early Retirement
4 Lectures 00:59

    To move forward financially and get out of the "rat race", a change in your mindset needs to occur. To facilitate that change I HIGHLY recommend you download the hyperlinked app.

    Here is the gist:

    Working for your money < Putting your money work for you.

    You may think this is pretty obvious. If so, does your money work for you? In lecture 9 we will evaluate your current assets.

    Here is your ultimate financial goal: To someday have enough “passive” income generating assets to pay your total monthly expenses.

    Examples of “Passive Income” Opportunities:

    • Stocks
    • Self Running Businesses (Books, Online Classes, Start Ups)
    • Bonds/annuities/mutual funds
    • Income-Generating Real Estate
    • Royalties from intellectual property

To learn more, download that app and run through the material. It won't take long and you will learn so much about keeping your eyes open to incredible opportunities.

STEP 8: Seeking Opportunities for "Passive" Income

At the bottom (and to the right) of your "Monthly Debt Balances" excel sheet, you will find a list of steps to take to guide you along your path to financial freedom.

These steps include a combination of advice given from a large number of notable sources.

I personally have elected to follow these steps to the tee, however, you may choose to edit a few of these to meet your needs.

In reference to donating/tithing/or charity, if you are of the mind set "I AM the one in need here" or "I will give to charity when I can afford it" (very much my mentality up until 2013), I challenge you to run a little scientific experiment...

Look over the last three months and total up your monthly income. For just THREE MONTHS, actually donate 10% of your income and track your total income over this time period.

I cannot explain how or why it works, it just does. To receive you must first give. Try it out! You may be amazed by the results. If not, you can revert back to your original mind set.

Many people in a high debt : income situation tend to struggle with when to pay off debt and when to save. Use these steps as your guide.

SEE STEP 9 (PDF) for your general guideline!

Preview 3 pages

Incredibly similar to the "Debt Payment Schedules" we discovered in Lecture 5, the asset payment schedule will provide a snap shot of how much an asset will payout over the course of 30 years.

It is frequently advised that a small time investor have no more than 8 unique asset opportunities.

You should have a savings account in place along with a Roth IRA for each adult in the household.

Your goal is to continue adding to this portfolio (see Lecture 8 for when this should be done in comparison to paying off debts).

STEP 10: Saving Your Ass...ets
1 page

Thank you for joining me in this course please write if you have any questions or need help manipulating the cells on your excel sheets.
The biggest piece of advice I can give anyone is to keep LEARNING. But you already know that secret (:
A Conclusion to the Course
About the Instructor
Vanessa Ralph
5.0 Average rating
1 Review
37 Students
1 Course
Curriculum Design Expert and Educator

Financial Planner for Next Generation Financial Planning and Management

I have a twisted obsession with creating intuitive excel sheets for maintaining finances. Once you automate your budget, staying on track is simple and takes very little of your time month to month.

The trick to financial freedom is that there is no trick. You need to make sure you are watching your spending, handling your debts, making good financial choices, and building your assets in the correct manner while keeping an eye open for "passive income opportunities".