New: MSE opens its ‘Academoney’ financial education course

The site teams up with The Open University to launch its free, unique Academy of Money

The UK’s biggest consumer website, (MSE) and world-leading distance-learning institution, The Open University, have teamed up to launch an ambitious new project to help give the nation the skills and knowledge to master their finances with a new, completely free and independent academic course, launching today.

The course – MSE’s Academy of Money – is prepared and written by The Open University, with support and guidance from MSE. Hosted on its OpenLearn platform, the course is made up of six two-hour sessions of study covering all key aspects of personal finance:

  1. Making good spending decisions: Examine what behavioural and marketing pressures influence purchasing decisions. Then look at a simple four-stage decision-making model. Developing your approach to money management will underpin this session, and the rest of the course.  
  2. Budgeting and taxation: This session will examine how to calculate net income. You will explore expenditure patterns, how national insurance and income tax works, and how to plan to build a successful budget.
  3. Borrowing money: Looks at how different types of debt work, the differences between them and the dangers. It examines the concept of ‘bad debt, good debt’ and by the end, educates on how to borrow sensibly.
  4. Understanding mortgages: Mortgage products are complex. This session gives a grounding in how they work, interest rates, repayments and possible penalties. It also examines mortgages from a lender’s perspective to explain why your mobile phone contract might just determine how much you can borrow.
  5. Saving and investing: This session explains the difference between saving and investing, plus how to understand different types of saving vehicles and the basics of investments such as shares, bonds and commodities, and the associated risks.
  6. Planning for retirement: Understand how state pensions, occupational and personal pension schemes work and the differences between them – it’s designed both for those imminently retiring and for those who have many years to go.

The course is totally flexible – students can study at their own pace, perhaps even choosing to complete just one topic to brush up. It is available to anyone wanting to improve their knowledge of personal finance for their own interest and financial capability, or, for those who work in the consumer help industries, it can provide some academic grounding to support their work.

Enrolling on the course will give students the opportunity to earn a free Open University digital badge – a great way to demonstrate interest in the subject and commitment to your career, providing evidence of continuing professional development – and a free downloadable statement of participation.

The course will be available from Thursday 21 May 2020 here.

Christopher Woolard, Interim Chief Executive of the FCA, 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.”

Martin Lewis, founder of, 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’.”

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 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 MSE’s Academy of Money course, said: “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.”