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6 Free Financial Resources for Pandemic Times

By Sam Swenson, CFA, CPA – Jun 5, 2020 at 8:00AM

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These resources can help you navigate these unprecedented times.

If you're like me, pandemic life has given you quite a bit of time to think about your contribution to and place in the world. Despite what we've had to endure over the past several months, one of the silver linings associated with pandemic life is that we've started to more closely examine the basic assumptions underlying our society. For example, the "normal" life trajectory involved having one job for your entire career, retiring at 65 with a nest egg of some size, and perhaps not considering that life could have been lived another way.

We're now in what I'll term "The Great Decoupling," where employers have begun to hedge toward leaner workforces that are increasingly autonomous and decreasingly dependent. For workers to make this transition successfully, they'll need a strong personal finance knowledge base, which is readily accessible with a small investment of time and an internet connection.

Two men looking at financial resources.

Source: Getty Images

In order to be sovereign as individuals, we need to become more thoughtful as consumers of financial information -- not just as a matter of good practice, but particularly during a pandemic or other global catastrophe. As anyone pursuing financial independence is abundantly aware, the gap between our income and expenses will dictate the height of our financial fortress. The hope is that directed and refined learning will greatly increase our ability to invest properly and control expenses, thereby increasing our independence. The reality is that it takes time to gain fluency, but the good news is that we can collectively help each other become more self-sufficient via free resources.

Some of my favorite are below:

Podcasts

1. The Afford Anything Podcast

Paula Pant, a leader in the financial independence movement, speaks with guests from every dimension of the financial ecosystem. The best part of this podcast is that each episode is very digestible, making complicated money topics accessible to pretty much anyone. Some of the recurring topics on the show include the psychology of money, early retirement, basic investing, and broader money management.

2. The Long View by Morningstar

A more sophisticated podcast that frequently explores some of the more nuanced topics within investing, including, but not limited to, style investing, smart beta, active investing, and conflicts of interest surrounding financial advice. The podcast plays to an audience with an already-solid financial acumen, but adds tremendous value when heard over time.

3. Radical Personal Finance

Joshua Sheats, a financial planner with at least 15 letters worth of designations after his name, provides a unique perspective on all things personal finance. Many of Joshua's episodes cover issues outside of investing but related to personal finance, like insurance needs-analysis, budgeting, and emergency preparedness. Listeners can expect at least a few brand new pointers with each episode. 

Websites

4. JL Collins' Stock Series

A simple refresher on the power of a passively managed portfolio and another vote for the "buy-and-hold the index" approach. JL Collins -- occasionally referred to as "the godfather of financial independence" has made a powerful footprint around the financial community, frequently appearing on popular podcasts, and also participated in a Google Talk a number of years ago. 

5. The ChooseFI Website

Another great financial independence hub, the ChooseFI team runs a highly consumable site and podcast, including timely (and of course, free) webinars on Facebook Live. Topics in the past have included tax management and pandemic budgeting, all with the goal of creating a life that you actually want. The webinars are often in a panel format, so you're able to hear multiple perspectives and competing ideas on a single screen.

6. The Motley Fool Website

We offer a wealth of resources, from posts on how to get started with investing via the Investment Knowledge Center, to thoroughly researched stocks with detailed investment theses, to retirement and social security questions. If you're new to investing, even just browsing these articles can go quite a long way in deepening your financial understanding. The Fool's website is also going to be one of your best bets in terms of accessing credentialed experts' views on individual stocks -- and without a need to hand over your assets for the privilege.

Perhaps the best aspect of finding these resources is that there are significant economies of scale that come with the time spent reading or listening -- you'll begin to think about your relationship with money a bit differently, and many of these resources will lead you down other valuable avenues. It's important to keep in mind that these resources represent only a starting point; there are countless other free, easy-to-access information havens available across the internet. It's up to you to determine which ones work for you, and which you will want to revisit!

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