MSE launches 'Academoney' financial education course with the Open University
MoneySavingExpert.com is today launching the Academoney, or more formally the MSE Academy of Money – a new, free online adult financial-education course provided jointly with the Open University.
Update Tuesday 8 September: More than 25,800 MoneySavers have now enrolled in the Academoney, through our partnership with the Open University. See the original news story below to find out more, and sign up for free to become top of the class in all things personal finance.
While MoneySavingExpert has long provided detailed help on the immediate issues that affect your finances, this course is designed to tool you up for the long term, with skills and formal education which should help people thrive in our competitive consumer economy.
The course can be found on the Open University's OpenLearn platform and is totally flexible, so you can study at your own pace and choose which topics you want to brush up on.
Once enrolled on the course, you can earn an Open University badge and downloadable statement of participation – which can be used to provide evidence of your interest in the subject or continuing professional development.
While this course is aimed at adults, young people can download a free financial education textbook aimed at 15 to 16-year-olds, which was sent to all state secondary schools in England, funded by Martin.
What does the MSE Academy of Money course cover?
The course is made up of six two-hour sessions on key aspects of personal finance, including explanatory videos by MSE founder Martin Lewis. You can choose to complete one session, more or all of them:
- Making good spending decisions. This session develops your approach to money management by exploring the behavioural and marketing pressures which influence buying decisions, and looking at a simple four-stage decision-making model.
- Budgeting and taxation. This session looks at how to calculate net incomes. It explores spending patterns, how national insurance and income tax work, and how to build a successful budget.
- Borrowing money. This session looks at how different types of debt work, exploring the differences between them and the dangers. It looks at the concept of "good debt, bad debt" and how to borrow sensibly.
- Understanding mortgages. This session gives a grounding in how mortgage products work, including interest rates, repayments and possible penalties. It also looks at mortgages from the lender's perspective, explaining why your mobile phone contract could affect how much you borrow.
- Saving and investment. This session explains the difference between saving and investing. It looks at different types of savings vehicles and the basics of investments such as shares, bonds and commodities – and the associated risks.
- Planning for retirement. This session is designed both for those who are retiring imminently and those who have many years to go. It looks at how state pensions, occupational pension schemes and personal pension schemes work, and the differences between them.
Martin: 'Education is a form of financial self-defence, so we're delighted to encourage people to tool up in our Academoney'
Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com, said: "Companies continually spend billions of pounds on advertising, marketing and teaching their staff to sell. Yet consumers don't get any training. We need to redress that balance. We fought hard to get financial education on the curriculum, but these important lessons can't just stop when people leave school. With such financial turmoil across our society, it's crucial everyone is properly financially educated, so we can improve our nation's poor financial capability, entrenched by a lack of early-life money lessons going back decades.
"That's why we've chosen to fund this new project and partner with the Open University – one of the world's most prestigious distance-learning institutions. Our aim is to provide a more formal learning environment for those who want to dedicate their time to improving their financial knowledge. Education is a form of financial self-defence, and so we're delighted to encourage people to tool themselves up in our 'Academoney'."
Financial regulator welcomes new initiative
The new course was also welcomed by the financial regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority. Its interim chief executive Christopher Woolard said: "Navigating financial services can be difficult and making the right choice can feel hard. To take control of your finances you need to understand the options open to you. As a result, we're delighted to see this course – which will hone people's financial skills – being available to all, free of charge."
Partnership with the Open University
Tim Blackman, vice-chancellor of the Open University, said: "The Open University has, for over 50 years, built strong partnerships to help make education open for all. As we look ahead to economic recovery and rebuilding financial resilience for economies and individuals, improving financial education and access to it is more important than ever.
"Our relationship with MoneySavingExpert and Martin Lewis is based on a shared commitment and passion to inform and educate people to help change their lives for the better.
"Our OpenLearn platform, home to more than 950 free learning courses, is the ideal home for MSE's Academy of Money and we look forward to another success together."
Martin Upton, senior lecturer in finance at the Open University and lead academic on the MSE's Academy of Money course, added: "There is clear evidence of the need to improve the public's capability and confidence when it comes to money management.
"This was true before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic and, sadly, the consequences of the current crisis have reinforced this need by piling further financial pressure on millions of households.
"It's great news that the Open University has teamed up with Martin Lewis and his MoneySavingExpert team to provide this free online course on all the major aspects of personal finance. The course is fun to study and, importantly, it will help adults of all ages improve their financial knowledge and money management skills."
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