These days, you can learn anything on the internet.
From coding, cooking, painting, and self-help skills, there’s a course for everything — even how to be a millionaire through investing.
Or so they claim.
Investing in the stock market is a great strategy to grow your wealth, and investing courses can give you the knowledge you need to start investing properly and avoid costly mistakes. But with so many courses from self-proclaimed “experts,” how do you know which ones are worth your money?
Here’s what to look for in an investing course and what to know before you sign up.
What Are Investing Courses, and How Much Do They Cost?
Investing courses, as the name suggests, are courses that teach you how to invest in the stock market smartly and strategically. Typical topics covered by investing courses include:
- Saving for retirement
- Buying stocks
- Building a balanced portfolio
- Basic concepts and terminology (like compound interest and different investment types)
There are many types of investing courses geared toward different audiences, each with its own features and price points. Here is a breakdown of the details:
|Course Type||What They Are||Who They’re Good For||Pricing|
|Self-paced online modules||Pre-recorded videos, articles, and occasionally interactive activities that you can do at your own pace.||Independent learners who are ok with fewer opportunities for personalized guidance and interaction with the instructor.||These courses tend to be the most affordable.|
|Live webinars or workshops||Live sessions with an instructor (either a one-time webinar or part of a longer series).||Those who want the chance to ask questions to the instructor directly or prefer a real-time learning environment.||These courses typically cost more than self-paced online modules but less than courses from educational institutions.|
|Courses are offered as part of a larger learning platform||Courses on online learning platforms like Lynda.com, Skillshare, and Udemy.||People who want access to a lot of courses in one place.||Pricing models for these courses can vary. Some platforms offer individual courses for a set price each, while others charge a monthly subscription fee for unlimited access to their entire library.|
|Courses offered by educational institutions||Online courses offered by traditional educational institutions like Harvard Business School or Columbia Business School.||People who want the most in-depth instruction or are interested in pursuing a professional degree or certificate program in investing.||These courses tend to be the most expensive but give college credit towards a degree (if you pursue one).|
Be wary of any course that promises immediate gains or guaranteed earnings. Smart investing is inherently a long-term game that seeks to reduce, not erase, your risk.
Are Investing Courses Worth It?
A good course that teaches you how to invest your money properly can pay dividends for years to come.
“It’s so important to invest your money into understanding how to build wealth for the next thirty, forty years of your life,” says Tori Dunlap, founder of Her First $100K, an online money and career platform for millenial women. “This information you will use for decades of your life. And it’s important that you do it right and that you do it correctly.”
While you can learn on your own using the plentiful and freely available information on the internet, a course can compile all the content you need to know in one place for quicker and easier learning. And it can also teach you things you didn’t know you didn’t know, says Dominique Broadway, founder of the financial advice platform Finances De·mys·ti·fied. “You can Google everything, but if you don’t know what to Google, it doesn’t work,” she says. You have to be aware that an investing strategy or product exists in order to Google it.
Ultimately, whether or not an investing course is worth it depends on what you can do with the information learned and whether you want to save the time and hassle of doing your own research. “It depends on what type of learner you are,” says Rebecka Zavaleta, creator of the investing community First Milli. “Have an honest conversation with yourself about what has worked out for you and what has not.” Some learners need community and accountability. If that is what you need and a particular investing course offers that, it will be worth it, continued Zavaleta.
But like investing itself, don’t spend money you can’t afford, and make sure a course is legitimate before you pay anything. It can be a good idea for beginners to learn the basics with free or low-cost courses before shelling out money for advanced lessons.
With a ton of products to choose from, we did some research and listed our picks for the best investing courses available in 2021.
Best Paid Investing Courses of 2021
Beginner’s Guide to Investing from Erin Lowry
Beginner-friendly introduction to investing
Cost: $29 (free with a $39/month CreativeLive subscription)
This course, offered by NextAdvisor contributor Erin Lowry, author of the “Broke Millennial” book series, includes 12 videos covering topics like compound interest, setting financial goals, stock market basics, and picking initial investments. With a great overview of investing basics and a relatively low price tag, this course is perfect for beginners who are just starting out.
Master The Market Bundle from Jannese Torres-Rodriguez
A guide to investing for FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early)
Cost: $37 for the bundle, $27 and $17 for course 1 and 2, respectively, when sold separately
Another NextAdvisor contributor and host of NextAdvisor’s Latina Women on FIRE event, Jannese Torres-Rodriguez, nationally-acclaimed Latina money expert, podcaster, educator, speaker, writer, and business/wealth coach, uses investing as a way to achieve financial independence. Her course aims to teach you how to do the same. The first course, Master The Market 101: Investing For Beginners, covers the basics of investing, while the second, Master The Market 102: Investing For Financial Independence, teaches you about the FIRE movement and how investing can help you achieve financial independence. Torres-Rodriguez also runs the free popular podcast Yo Quiero Dinero, where she offers financial advice tailored to the Latinx community and people of color.
Popular and highly-reviewed
Cost: Available with a SkillShare Premium Membership ($32/month or $168 a year, with a seven-day free trial available)
This two-part course, created by the popular YouTube channel Business Casual, is one of the most popular and highly-rated introductory investing courses on the online learning platform SkillShare, with over 55,000 students and 2,100 reviews between the two parts. Part one teaches stock market basics like what are stocks and index funds, while part two covers more advanced topics like dividends and buybacks. The course includes videos and interactive projects to help you put the knowledge you learned into practice. The course is only accessible with a SkillShare Premium, which gives you unlimited access to all the courses on the platform.
Best Free Investing Courses of 2021
Investing Masterclass from Wealthsimple
Fun, bite-sized lessons
Wealthsimple’s free video series offers quick, accessible, and entertaining lessons in the form of ten videos that will give you a rundown of investing basics in under an hour. The concepts are broken down into easy-to-understand terms and come packaged with fun graphics and a witty presentation by Emmy-nominated actor Nicholas Braun. These videos are free and publicly accessible from Wealthsimple’s website, meaning there’s no need to give out your email or sign up for any programs or products.
Investing Classroom from Merrill Edge (Powered by Morningstar)
Non-video lessons from beginner to advanced
If you prefer reading to watching videos, Merrill Edge offers a large collection of textbook-style modules with topics ranging from the basic (Stocks 101: Stocks versus Other Investments) to the advanced (Stocks 402: Introduction to Using Ratios and Multiples) and everything in between. Each module also includes a short quiz to help check your knowledge. In addition to lessons about stocks, you can also learn about funds, bonds, EFTs, and portfolios. The content is drawn directly from Morningstar’s free investing classroom, but you don’t need to sign up for an account if you go through Merrill Edge’s page.
These may not be full courses in the traditional sense, but they’re still great resources to learn about investing on your own:
- Learning Center from Fidelity: Once you’ve learned the basics of investing, come here for in-depth explorations of specific topics like tax benefits, advanced stock strategies, and more. In addition to the free, publicly available resources, Fidelity also offers free investing webinars for existing customers, which you can also get with a free 30-day guest access trial.
- Investor.gov: Run by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), this official government website is a hub of free resources with everything from guides about investing basics to financial calculators to investor alerts and bulletins.
- NextAdvisor: Our hub of resources on investing, saving money, retirement planning, and even cryptocurrency. NextAdvisor also hosts frequent live events about investing and other personal finance topics, like our Latina Women on FIRE panel and Moms & Money panel.
What to Look For in an Investing Course
Charging for online courses and content has become an easy way for many to make money, so it’s important to vet your choice carefully, says Zavaleta. Here are some things to consider when choosing an investing course, whether free or paid:
- Price. The price for investing courses can range from free to thousands of dollars, but it’s important to look beyond the sticker price of a course to determine whether it’s a good deal. Since profits on investments aren’t guaranteed, never spend more money than you can afford—on both investment courses and investments themselves.
- Content. Most courses should provide an overview of the content covered. Some might even include a syllabus or sample lesson to give you an idea of the teaching style. Before purchasing a course, look at any previews or outlines to make sure that the course covers topics relevant to what you want to learn.
- Reviews and reputation. Look at reviews and customer testimonials, and consider whether the person or institution offering the course has a reputation for expertise in the subject. Look at the course creator’s professional credentials or investing experience. While a traditional degree or certification in financial planning isn’t always necessary for someone to be knowledgeable about investing, it’s always worth checking out where self-proclaimed experts got their expertise from.
- Watch out for scams. Be wary of courses making grand promises of quick money or guaranteed returns, says Zavaleta. Investing is an excellent strategy for building wealth, and online courses can be a great way to learn the basics. But smart investing is a long-term game, and while a balanced portfolio can minimize risk and maximize returns, there’s no guarantee that you’ll make money in the stock market. If any course is making promises that seem too good to be true, they probably are. Always do your research before spending money on any investing course or financial product.
- A note about “free” courses. Some course creators, as well as financial companies, may offer free courses, webinars, or other resources with the intention of promoting their paid products. Some free courses may only give a general overview, with more detailed information locked behind a paywall. While free courses can be a great way to learn about investing or “sample” a creator’s content, don’t feel pressured to purchase a paid course or product just because you benefited from the free course. Always do your research, shop around, and carefully consider what a course or product can offer you before paying any money.
How We Chose the Best Investing Courses
For our list of best paid and free investing courses, we handpicked courses from independent creators, courses on a larger learning platform, and courses offered by companies or organizations. We looked at several factors when choosing these courses: affordability; customer reviews; the expertise of the course creators, based on their credentials and reputation; and the unique value each course offered, based on its content. All research was gathered independently from information publicly available on the course pages, without vetting from the course creators. Our analysis is not influenced by any affiliate or advertising relationships.