Teach Myself Personal Finance? Where Do I Even Start?

Last year I decided to suck it up and educate myself about personal finance. I earn a paycheque, I have expenses, and there are things I want in life (like financial security—don’t we all?), so I figured learning how to manage my money could only be a good thing.

Personal Finance for Canadians for Dummies

I’m not going to lie, it hasn’t been easy. Personal finance can be boring and complicated, and learning anything takes time and effort. Fortunately, I’m motivated by visions of being financially self-sufficient and owning my own home. I also don’t hate math. If you’re not inspired and the thought of numbers makes you ill, improving your financial literacy might seem overwhelming and intimidating.

In my experience, the hardest part is knowing where to find good information. The personal finance section of the bookstore is crammed full of books telling you how to become rich and live a happy life.  If you Google “personal finance,” you get thousands of hits from experts to "gurus" to stay-at-home moms, all offering tips on everything from investing to budgeting. There are tons of Youtube videos and blogs on the subject. Where do you start?

I am still learning myself, but here are some things I started with:

The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada has a Youtube channel too. Here is a short video on how to use their Financial Literacy Database.

  • The best book I have found so far is Personal Finance for Canadians for Dummies.  It’s thorough and written by experts in the clearest and most unbiased way possible. (I think, because everyone has different preferences when managing their money, some bias is unavoidable.)
  • The best website I have found is the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada’s. One of their main mandates is to improve financial literacy in Canada. Their content is written in plain English and they provide numerous helpful resources.
  • The Globe and Mail has a good personal finance section. Tip: Check the credentials and sources for any articles you read in any publication.
  • Watching friends and family go about their lives both interesting and useful.  Having some insight into their daily lives gives you an idea of how their financial decisions are working out for them.

I’ve got a way to go, but the more I learn, the more confident I feel that I’m capable of making good financial decisions, and the more confident I am in choosing reliable, accurate, sources of information. Making the effort to improve your financial literacy is worth it—only you truly know what you want in life and only you can get yourself there. Why would you risk your hard-earned money by making bad decisions when you can take control and educate yourself?

Anna Moat

Anna is an aspiring editor and writer with a background in accounting.  She actually finds personal finance and the issue of financial literacy very interesting. She grew up on a hobby farm south of Ottawa and enjoys animals, reading, and the weird and wonderful world of the internet. 

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