Personal Finance: Thinking Like The Rich And Acting Now
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Personal Finance: Thinking Like The Rich And Acting Now

Making Personal Finance somehow seem fun - based on a class to over 45 students at an elite institution.
4.8 (8 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.
118 students enrolled
Created by Steven Blaser
Last updated 1/2014
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Current price: $10 Original price: $25 Discount: 60% off
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  • 5 hours on-demand video
  • 1 Article
  • 3 Supplemental Resources
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
What Will I Learn?
  • By the end of this course, you will know the best ways to save, how to create the most wealth, and good tips and resources for making it all work.
  • To not bore you and yet still help you understand personal finance.
  • To finally make clear the difference between tax evasion and tax avoidance.
  • Make the lessons short enough they can accommodate a busy schedule.
View Curriculum
  • No prerequisite classes or math knowledge required for the course.
  • Ready to make changes in your life and not using this as only a means to "learn" a little more information.
  • Need a computer or mobile device.

Despite the onslaught of personal finance materials thrown at consumers these days, very few of it is general enough to let people adapt it to their lifestyle and specific enough it can actually be done. Our goal here is to make personal finance fun. This class is based on activities and tutorials that will provide you over 100 lessons worth of details, contained in a structure of learning by doing. Do you know why you care more about $10 off a $100 purchase than off a $1000 purchase? Do you know why your FICO score matters? While all those New Years Resolutions seem good in theory, how do you actually make them happen? These are all things we will discuss in this course in the context of personal finance.

This course is an adaptation of a learning by doing class taught at an elite university. It is intended for those people that want to make changes to their lives but have not found the time or will to make these changes. It is especially intended for those who are interested in learning but bored by typical personal finance blogs or lessons.

This course goes beyond the math and basics of personal finance. Many people have proven that simple education in personal finance, just like Chemistry or Baseball, simply does not work. You need the tools and calls to action to make it work. This course is designed to provide behavioral finance education regarding incentives as well as applications and resources that automate the process.

Perhaps most importantly, I nag you enough times on enough topics that you may finally start paying attention. There is a charge because that means you are more likely to pay attention and follow-through (oops, I gave a secret away already). It is finally time to learn the basics in an easy way and to take control of building up savings and investments for yourself and your kids (or parents).

Come join me in this class and let's start today! If you have questions on any topics or want more information or materials, just let me know and I will work as fast as possible to generate the appropriate materials. Anybody can always reach out and I am happy to act as a "consultant" to help you cut down costs and increase revenues and savings.

Additionally, new materials and sections will be added weekly. I am currently working on a Financial Aid section for high school students and one for college students as well as updates on relevant topics in the news. All updates to current sections will go in a new section in the back while entirely new sections will just receive their own section. If there is anything else you would like added, let me know!

Sections coming soon on:

Stocking Up On Money? Investments, the Market, and Wealth Building

Stories from the Community

Building Wealth vs. Eroding Wealth

Hire Me! Negotiations and Job Strategies

Time to Collect: Loans and Debt

Go Big Or Go Home: Big Purchases

In Today's Digital World: Credit + Protecting Your Identity

Apps and Technology

Who is the target audience?
  • Anybody interested in saving more money, cutting down on expenses, and getting a firm grasp on financial education in a fun and interactive way.
  • Appropriate for ages 14-92
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Curriculum For This Course
115 Lectures
Introduction to the Course and Personal Finance
11 Lectures 44:29

The introduction discusses the main concepts of the course. We will discuss the best methods for taking this class, how to get the most value, why we have quizzes and activities, and how this class is different than any other. In over 100+ lectures, you are going to learn the best methods for getting your financial life on track and the value of an inclusive crowdsourced community.

Preview 03:25

This section discusses why personal finance is so **** (fill in your word here) hard and why there is sometimes a space between different lectures to finish notes and review the ideas. It is also important to understand sections are broken up into small pieces to accommodate busy schedules.

You Survived The First 3 Minutes!

This tutorial discusses the personal finance lessons gleamed from the movie Groundhog Day, an unofficial activity to hone your personal finance mind, and methods for thinking through certain big expenses and even daily activities.

Groundhog Day

This tutorial centers around taking a pledge about certain personal finance activities and thinking through the time and money that should be devoted to different sections of the course.

Preview 05:08

In this section we discuss:

- Quizzes are ways to view the big picture and look internally.

- Quizzes are not about correct answers but rather personal habits.

- Focus on sections with the most answers of No.

- First section should always be the budget section.

- Take the quiz before starting each section.

How Quizzes Work

This section will discuss the materials contained in the information sheets, why activities are so important, the information sheets are the most updated items, and we will use the first section info sheet as the example in the video.

Information Sheets For Each Section

This tutorial is the Imagine If scenario. For this section, you are supposed to imagine you are planning a vacation since that is a far more pleasant thought than planning for personal finances. Think about booking a hotel room looking over the water on a tropical island and a flight or car ride to get you there. However, think of all the hidden expenses that are also associated with these trips, such as extra baggage fees at the airport. The purpose of this course is to help you prevent hidden and unknown fees and to give you the tips and tools to plan your dream vacation. The most important idea from this section is that personal finance is distinctly independent and concentrates on short, medium, and long term goals. Once you stop imagining your vacation, move on to the next video!

Preview 06:24

In this section we go over critical questions to think of while exploring your personal finance situation. While there are no correct answers, these will help guide you in the correct direction during the subsequent sections.

What Should You Ask Yourself?

This section describes the structure of the course and the importance of the various sections.

DNA of the Course

How Many Things Are You Doing Right?
9 questions

The information sheet contains:

- Definitions

- Activities

-Quiz Questions

-Top 5 Themes

Info Sheet 1
1 page

In this section we discuss the 5 most important themes from Section 1. If you have any additional or different themes, please either post them in the questions or comments section and, if enough people agree, I will change the slides and add additional commentary!

Look forward to seeing you in Section 2...

Top 5 Lessons From Section 1
Budgeting AKA Where Did All My Money Go?
26 Lectures 01:30:11

This lecture describes the different topics and key words discussed in section 2. It also introduces a more personalized definition of automation and contains the first corny joke (I hope) of the class.


This lecture discusses budgeting from the perspective of a journalist: Who, What, Where, When, Why. For those of you that are competitive, it also introduces a fun game to play with the family that helps with a sometimes tedious budgeting process.

Preview 04:53

This Imagine If scenario is nowhere near as nice as the first. In this lecture, I compare budgeting to studying for an exam. You need to study the details and think big picture. For those of you that loved extra credit, it is time to start thinking outside the box. Finally, I relate the idea of short, medium, and long term steps and how the individualized process of studying is very similar to the process for budgeting. Doesn't mean I won't show you some pointers!

Imagine If...

This lecture introduces the first activity of Section 2. In this activity, you just either got your first job or your next job (congrats!). Use the materials provided to figure out your budget. You can write it in Excel or on paper but make sure you think through everything!

Activity 1: You Just Moved

What Do You Know About Budgets?
10 questions

This lecture introduces the idea of Needs Vs. Wants from an economic perspective, a personal finance perspective, and from our perspective. It shows how the other 2 may lack when you are trying to create a comprehensive budget and introduces an activity for you to think about your own needs.

Needs vs. Wants

This lecture contains the instructions and sheet for Activity 2 of Section 2, introduced in the previous video. In this, you are asked to distinguish between an economic need, a personal finance need, and YOUR needs. Make sure you think carefully as you will be going back to this later as you learn to cut down on expenses.

Activity 2: Needs vs. Wants
1 page

This section discusses the flaws in the 50-30-20 or, as I call it, the "Strict Teacher" Rule. Then, I introduce my own model or the "Guiding Hand" Rule. We also introduce the first topic related to how the rich think about money and the positive implications it can have on your own life. Time to start!

Why The 50-30-20 Rule Does Not Work

In this lecture we go over the answers to Activities 1 and 2 in detail and some tips. Make sure you hold on to these as they will be very helpful to think through and help you begin cost-cutting in future sections. This lecture is much longer than many of the others because I go over each item in detail. While you do not need to listen to the whole thing, I recommend it as I think repetition (and nagging) is very helpful in this circumstance.

Activity 1 + 2 Answers

This section goes over how to set your goals to create the best and simplest budget and shows the rules I first set when I began working towards a secure financial future.

Set Those Goals!

This section is a primer on different (physical and web-based) methods of earning extra income. Sometimes the best way to create a balanced budget is take a little extra time out of the week and make some money. This includes 5-10 different suggestions and bonus ideas will be added over time. Start making some money!

Ways to Generate More Income

A budget includes your revenue (income), your expenses (costs), and your net income. Within those sections there are many things to think about and if you want a great budget you need those revenues > expenses.

General Structure of a Budget

This is a quick look at Wealth Erosion, a topic to be studied in detail throughout the course. Why do the successful rich seem to not lose any of their money and still spend so much and how can you do the same?

Wealth Erosion Primer

This is a look at the Excel sheet for sources of income.

Sources of Income (In Excel)

This tutorial discusses the crucial component of any expense section of a budget - the emergency fund!

Emergency Fund

This section discusses retirement and savings accounts and their place in your budget.

Retirement and Savings

This is a look at the Excel sheet for expenses. Look in the Net Income section to download the Mock Budget I created for your use.

Sources of Expenses (In Excel)

The last look at the Excel sheet - here is the Net Income and the accompanying Excel sheet with it.

Net Income (In Excel)

This is the third activity - you just won the lottery!

Activity 3: You Just Won The Lottery

Let's take a look at a common approach to sound budgeting - the Envelope Approach!

Envelope Approach

This is a short video tutorial of Mint.Com. A description of some of the Pros and Cons is listed below.

This is a short video tutorial of Quicken.


This is a short video tutorial of Personal Capital.

Personal Capital

In this activity, we discuss best practices to create a budget.

Best Practices

In this activity, we will be creating a budget using receipts compiled over a period of time.

Activity 4: Create Your Budget

This is the budget sheet created by my class.

What My Class Created
2 pages

These are the 5 most important themes of Section 2!

5 Themes
Common Cents: Cutting Down Expenses + Automating The Process
16 Lectures 42:26

This section provides a brief introduction to Section 3 and what we will be learning. Get ready for an exciting foray into the world of debt, transportation, and many activities to challenge you along the way.


Congratulations! You now own and operate a world class restaurant - what do you make?

Imagine If

Here is Activity 1. This is research focused and based on some of the materials we did in Section 2. We start out easy...

Activity 1

What did Activity 1 from this section and the activity from the Activity in the Budget section teach us about our abilities to cut costs? What are our true needs vs. wants? These are the questions we will discuss in this tutorial.

Lessons from Needs and Wants Sheet

Section 3 Quiz
5 questions

Ebates is a great website where you can cut costs and make income at the same time. Learn more here. For those of you interested in signing up, here is the link to follow:


In this section we discuss different strategies for cutting down on those staggering debt costs.

Cutting Debt Costs

Drive to work? Take a bus? Use that car every day for errands? This section discusses the ways to cut down on those burgeoning transportation costs.

Cutting Transportation Costs

Finding your utility costs rising each month? Check out these tips to bring those costs back down.

Cutting Utility Costs

Food may be the best part of my day but it can also be the most costly. Food prices have risen dramatically in the last few years and we need to find some good ways to bring them back down.

Cutting Food Expenses

Getting ready for Spring Break, a few days off work, or do your kids have a week of school off? Don't stress out about how you can afford the vacation - the biggest stress you have should be your next meal or if you are wearing enough sunscreen.

Cutting Travel Expenses

In this activity we discuss some ways to bring down your expenses. You heard a few examples from me - now it is time to take some action and get that cutting started.

Activity 2: Cut Your Losses

Just like chewing on your nails, many people have very bad habits when it comes to Personal Finance. Use this tutorial to hear some tips on cutting down on those too.

Cutting Bad Habits

In this activity we will look at a method of saving coins!

Activity 3: Common Cents

Coupons truly are the best. Though many people believe there is a stigma attached to them, the rich use them in disproportionate numbers. The best way to get rich is to be thrifty. The best way to be thrifty is to use all the coupons you can find.

Using Coupons

This activity is not for the faint of heart. We will be going over a fantastic (but difficult) way to cut down on expenses. Do the activity at your own risk!

Activity 4: Expense the box

Let's take a look back at Section 3 and the 5 most important themes.

5 Themes
The Best Kind of Plastic: Credit Cards
25 Lectures 59:21

Welcome to Section 4! The introduction will go over the topics we learn about on Credit Cards. Starting in this section, I will not be uploading individual slides for each tutorial but rather attach the complete PPT at the end of the section I think this lends itself better to the remaining sections.


In this Imagine If scenario, we take a trip back to your younger days.

Imagine If

In this section we will take a look at credit card interest payments. Use the link below:

Activity 1

Section 4 Quiz
7 questions

When companies and you (the consumer) look at your credit report, what makes the cut and why is it so important?

Credit Report - What Makes the Cut?

In this lecture we dig down deeper into the anatomy of a credit report.

Anatomy of a Credit Report

This lecture explores credit scores and what components make them up.

Credit Score

In this section we dig a little deeper into credit scores.

Credit Score Anatomy

How do I access my credit score and what is the "Free Access to Credit Score Report" going through Congress at the moment.

Hope You've Been Good

Some people do not seem to care if they have a high or low score. In this section, we discuss why it is so important that you have a strong credit score.

Does My Score Even Matter?

Depending on your credit, we are going to look at some different examples of credit cards you are eligible for.

Credit Cards: What Can You Get?

What are some common mistakes found on your Credit Report and reflected in your Credit Score?

Common Mistakes

If you decide to dispute your credit report, learn some tips to do and why it is important to know that the burden of proof is NOT on the consumer.

If You Dispute

What is not included in a credit report?

What Is Excluded?

Here are some tips on how to improve your credit!

Improving Credit

Here are some tips (not to follow) on how to destroy your credit!

Destroying Credit

Is your credit an interest free loan or a money pit sucking up more and more money each month? Find out the ways to make it tend towards being an interest free loan.

Loan or Pit

This is a short look at what the APR (Annual Percentage Rate) really is.

APR Primer

From a recent Reddit, here are some things you definitely want to know.

Things You Want To Know

This is a behind the scenes look at how credit card companies operate.

How Credit Card Companies Operate

As we enter the new era of credit cards, let's take a look at some of the coming and already established trends.

The New Era

What is the difference between a debit and a credit card?

Debit vs. Credit

In Activity 2, you will play around. Take a look at and go through some of the different tutorials on the site.

Play Around

Here is a good holiday (or everyday) tip on saving up money and spending only the money that you are supposed to! Happy Holidays!

Good Holiday Tip

8 Tips From Experian on saving that credit...

Experian 8

Here we are again! The 5 most important themes from Section 4.

5 Themes
Two Things In This World Are Certain: Death and Taxes
12 Lectures 32:38

Are we already at Section 5? Let's take a look at what we will be discussing. Taxes will be one of the shortest sections due to its heavy individualization and the prevalence of software that can automatically find you the info we talk about. Since there is no way you will be doing this yourself, we limit the discussion. However, we also include a long activity I highly recommend to understand and take the first step towards your taxes.


In this Imagine If scenario, you are visiting that relative you just never quite want to visit.

Imagine If

Taxes Quiz
5 questions

This is our first look at all the different types of taxes. This explores progressive, regressive, and proportional taxes.

Progressive, Regressive, Proportional

Ever heard of the Laffer Curve? This is a big difference between Republicans and Democrats and their theories and is definitely something you should understand.

Laffer Curve

This is a look at the different types of taxes.

Types of Taxes

Which one is illegal? Which one is good? Find out now!

Evasion vs. Avoidance

This section discusses the negative aspects of tax refunds and why you should make smart decisions when you receive one.

Tax Refund

Tax Credits and Deductions are both good. However, dollar for dollar, tax credits are even better. While typically you will get these automatically using any type of tax software, let's take a look at what they mean.

Credit vs. Deduction

This activity is a quiz styled game for Section 5!

Activity 1

This is a look at the Turbotax website and the different options for consumers.

Turbo Tax

Who knew the IRS was so fun? Here are some decently fun and quite educational games to find your way to tax success.

IRS Apps

Finally, the end of taxes! This contains the second activity and all 5 Themes (which don't exist for this section) are just to complete the practice form and understand how taxes affect you, everyone around you, and credits versus deductions. See you in Section 6 where it is time to behave.

Activity 2: Practice Tax Form
Time to Behave: Behavioral Finance
11 Lectures 21:03

The introduction shows the different topics we will be discussing. Why is behavioral finance so important for our lives?


In this Imagine If, you are questioned about an irrational decision you know you want to make.

Imagine If

Are we all rational with everything we do? According to this theory, yes.

Rational Choice Theory

Section 6 Quiz
6 questions

When we talk about Behavioral Finance and Economics, what are we actually looking at?

What Are We Looking At?

Richard Thaler brought about the idea of Mental Accounting - what does that mean for us?

Mental Accounting

What is the standard model used and, next, what stops us from accomplishing it?

Standard Model

We had the best of intentions, and then some barriers happened to get in the way.

Intentions vs. Actions

When all is going awry, what ever can we do?

What Ever Can We Do?

There is a reason this class was created. What is that reason?

Where Other Classes Fail

A brief look at Shlomo Benartzi's idea of starting the savings process tomorrow and how that can help you.

Saving for Tomorrow, Tomorrow

The 5 Most Important Themes from Section 6.

5 Themes
Time For a Break: Personal Finance And You
13 Lectures 13:20

This is an introduction to the 10 (and bonus) best tips so far and some new ones along the way!


Look below to see a copy of the 2012 Consumer Expenditure Survey.

10: Consumer Expenditure Survey

This is the 5 Second Rule and why it is so effective.

Preview 00:46

This is a throwback to Section 6 and the Saving Tomorrow rule. I put the link again below.

8: Saving Tomorrow

What is a great way to acheive personal finance success? Get a partner!

7: Get a Partner

It may sometimes not seem like it, but being humble is critical to our success in a number of different areas.

6: Be Humble and Patient

Inspired by the work of Dan Ariely, I give some tips on making progress.

5: Making Progress

We will take a look at a critical question - What Could I Do Instead?

4: What Could I Do Instead?

If you are a planner, this is an obvious one. If not, you may want to take this tip to heart.

3: Have Written Checklists and Plans

A tip that has worked for me time and again - sleep.

2: Sleep On It

Sometimes you feel like you can't accomplish anything and everything is going wrong? Maybe you do not have someone questioning your decisions!

Preview 01:14

As a bonus and part of this course, how crowdsourcing and this community is here to help.

Preview 01:28

Quiz Time!
Midterm (JK) - Long Activity 1
1 Lecture 01:32

The final section of the course! Do the activity and I am excited to see what tips you come up with.

Long Activity 1
About the Instructor
Steven Blaser
4.8 Average rating
8 Reviews
118 Students
1 Course
Executive Director, Duke/Durham Saves

Steven Blaser has been involved in the Finance, Personal Finance, and consulting arena for over 3 years. He is the Founder and Executive Director of the Duke/Durham Saves program and has taught two classes on the subject. He works extensively with college students, elementary and middle schoolers, and many financial firms in the community. Next year, he will begin working in Investment Banking.