A Free Education is at Your Fingertips – 12 Ways

free ways to get an education andthenwesaved.com

With the new school year right around the corner, and with higher education costs growing at staggeringly high rates it’s a prime time to discuss some ways to get a free education by some less than traditional methods (Related post: Is College Worth the Expense? My Husband’s Story). This is a guest post by the lovely Melanie. xo, Anna

12 Free Ways to Get an Education

In the fourth quarter of 2012, total student loan debt reached $966 billion dollars. I can’t even comprehend that much money. I can’t even comprehend the average student loan balance of $24,803. Once upon a time, I was a student and I also work at a community college so I understand the debt struggle is real. It’s a complicated problem that I could write a novel about, but today we’re going to scratch the surface with a few free ways to get an education!

1. Open Education Consortium

The Open Education Consortium (OEC) is a group of higher education institutions and organizations from around the world. Last time I checked, the OEC presented 25,082 courses from 78 providers! The OEC is a great place to start looking for courses because they work with some of the most innovative educators in the world to compile and create awareness of massive-open-online courses (MOOCs).

2. Coursera

Coursera is another great place to start looking for MOOCs. Similarly to the OEC, Coursera works with global universities to offer courses in almost every subject imaginable. Personally, I cannot wait to take the e-Learning Ecologies course offered from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

3. Khan Academy

Khan Academy is a bit different. Khan Academy doesn’t offer formal courses, but it’s a wealth of quick educational videos and great for learning at your own pace. Khan Academy offers introductory-level videos for mostly math and science, but they’ve also branched out to American Civics and Art History. They even offer explanatory videos on finance and capital markets!

4. University of Redditt
University of Redditt isn’t taught by professors, instead it’s crowdsourced. University of Redditt doesn’t just have a traditionally academic focus either. There’s classes on Cooking for the Single Life, An Introduction to Magic the Gathering and Lucid Dreaming, among the more traditional academics like Music, Philosophy, Science and Technology. Who wants to learn how to lucid dream with me?!

5. YouTube

I’ve learned so much from YouTube. Seriously, I don’t know what I ever did without it. Thanks to YouTube, I’ve learned how to do my makeup for my wedding, how to make beeswax candles and how to properly poach an egg! Discover the magic of YouTube, people.

6. SchoolTube

SchoolTube is just like YouTube, except it’s solely designed for students and educators. SchoolTube has a K-12 focus, but there are some seriously amazing teachers who have put up seriously creative and entertaining content. I recently used Mr. W’s Virus Rap to brush up on my biology.

7. iTunes U

This app makes learning super convenient. You can download it on your phone and then learn wherever it is convenient to you– whether that’s on the bus or in the bathtub! iTunes U contains courses from major universities, like Yale, and also claims to be “the world’s largest digital catalog of free education content.”

8. Academic Earth

Academic Earth was the first player in the free online college course game. Today they offer highly curated course links from some of the nation’s top schools– Stanford, Harvard and MIT, just to name a few. Academic Earth is a wealth of knowledge with “curated links to over 750 online courses and 8,500 individual online lectures,” yet still remains an easy-to-navigate site.

9. Wikiversity

Wikiversity, one of the Wikimedia Foundation’s projects, is devoted to learning projects and resources, research and is caters to all levels from preschool to the university. What I like about Wikiversity is that it has a familiar interface. It looks just like Wikipedia!

10. Carnegie Melon Open Learning Initiative

Many large universities (and even small ones!) are jumping on the open learning bandwagon. Carnegie Melon’s initiative is definitely one of those worth mentioning. Through the Open Learning Initiative, you learn at your own pace through modules created by volunteer instructors. Notable courses include argument diagramming, responsible computing and STEM foundations.

11. GCF’s Learn Free

The Goodwill Community Foundation’s Learn Free is a favorite of the Office Systems Technology instructors at my school. It’s great for introductory computer classes like Facebook 101 and iPad basics and the Microsoft Office Suite. They also offer modules in resume writing, career planning and money!

12. The Library
Frank Zappa once said, “If you want to get laid, go to college. If you want an education, go to the library.” And I couldn’t agree with him more on both accounts. Bazinga! But in all seriousness, your local library is a wealth of knowledge and information that is right there– free for the taking. (You can find your local public library here: http://www.publiclibraries.com/) There’s knowledge that exists in books that you can’t find on the Internet– crazy, I know. But libraries aren’t just about books. Many libraries offer educational classes and programs on a whole host of things. I’ve seen everything from yoga classes to computer classes to knitting and 3-D printing. Interested in more ways to save money with the library? Check out 18 Ways the Library Can Help You Save Money.


Happy learning!


Have you used any of the free education resources mentioned? Do you know of others that weren’t mentioned in the post? Would love to hear about your experience with non-tradional education methods!

Melanie is a recently married librarian living in an Airstream with her husband. Yes, it’s as weird as it sounds. Find out more about their life at Love Library.


in How To, Practical Solutions, Societal Pressures, Staying Out of Debt, Things To Do
Use It Up

use what you have andthenwesaved.com

“Use what you have.”

How many of you are guilty of going out to buy something new when there is an event coming up? I used to do that ALL THE TIME, and can still fall into those old patterns if I’m not being vigilant and super careful. Rather than looking in my closet to wear what I already owned I thought I needed to go buy something new every time there was some place to be. It’s also so easy to go get take-out instead of eating the stuff that’s already in the cupboards… especially when I’m hungry.

Morale of the story: eat before you get too hungry, and stay out of the stores (and offline) because you probably, most likely already have what you need… :)


in Make Do & Mend, Motivation
6 Easily Adoptable Traits of People Who are Nuttily Successful with Money

traits of people who are successful with money andthenwesaved.com

Nuttily successful with money? Yes. You know the ones. They never have a problem buying impulsively, they have their retirement plan totally figured out, they have zero debt, and money in the bank. Basically, they just have it together money-wise, and not in the it-just-looks-like-they-have-it-going-on-in-the-financial-department but they legitimately do.

So, what personality traits make some people successful with money while others seem to struggle financially… sometimes for their entire lives? You may think people who are successful with money have uncovered some secret to wealth or maybe they have just popped out of their mama’s vajayjay knowing how to save. It seems people who reach their financial goals tend to share common character traits – rather than secret knowledge or an innate know-how.

Here are common character traits people who are successful with money share – so, luckily, if you don’t currently have these traits, you can work to develop them in order to reach your own financial goals (I’m a natural-born Spender who has changed their ways so I know it’s possible;).

6 Easily Adoptable Traits of People Who are Successful with Money:

1. They Embrace Frugality

Believe it or not, some of the richest people in the world are also some of the most frugal. For example, Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, is still known to drive a moderately priced Acura sedan, despite being a billionaire. People who are successful with money lead meaningful lives that are not generally based around material belongings and don’t base their self-worth on material items which allows them to save more money than people who need “things” to feel better about themselves.

2. They Have Patience and Perseverance

People who are financially successful tend to be patient and will stick to the plan instead of changing course at the first sign of trouble. Investors who spend time researching an investment strategy, and then have the patience to stick to that strategy tend to do better than investors who panic and then sell at the wrong time. In 2008 and 2009, when the market took a serious downturn, Fidelity research shows that investors in 401(k) plans who remained invested were rewarded in June of 2011 with a 50% return – while those who panicked and sold or moved their money ended up with only a 2% return in 2011. People who remained invested and continued to contribute to their plans gained an average of 64% during that same time period – so it pays to persevere and have patience.

3. They Have a Healthy Tolerance for Risk

People who are successful with money don’t hide from risky situations – instead, they understand what the risks are, and then use various strategies to take advantage of it. Ultra-conservative investors rarely see big returns, but ultimate risk-takers often lose it all in a blink of an eye. There has to be an understanding of the risks for each situation, and a good balance between safety and risks when it comes to what you do with your money. Having a healthy tolerance for risk in general, is also useful for people to advance in their careers or become successful business owners.

4. They Have the Ability to Ask for Help

Financially successful people are not the type to feel they need to do everything themselves and learn everything there is to know about every last detail in life. Instead, they tend to be the type of people who can ask for help when they need it. Most people who are successful with money have sought outside advice from a financial advisor or use CPA’s for their tax returns to find areas for saving that they themselves may be unaware of. People who have success financially recognize that people with specialized knowledge, and experience are more likely to know details about things that they themselves may never know – and they could be missing out from that lack of knowledge. In terms of investing, a study by Hewitt Associates and Financial Engines shows that investors who get outside advice and assistance are 2% richer annually than those who do it all on their own. Damn.

5. They Have a Never-Quit Mentality

Whether you are looking to reach financial goals or personal goals, one character trait will serve you well: don’t give up. So many people are quick to walk away from anything that becomes difficult, challenging, or confusing. If the road to success was an easy one, everyone would be successful. Learn to embrace challenges, and learn that fighting through something when you’d rather give up is the exact thing you need to do to overcome the obstacles and reach your goals. That being said, if something isn’t working for you — even if it’s just a book you’re reading that you’re no longer feeling — don’t keep going with it just to say you finished. You’ve got to trust those gut instincts so you don’t waste your precious time. Really, this comes down to knowing when to throw in the towel, and when to keep going despite difficulties. These skills get honed more and more with time, and take practice to get right.

6. They Have a Go-Getter/Entrepreneur Mind 

People who are successful with money have to learn ways to make more money, and often that leads them to a path of entrepreneurship. When you are an employee, you have income limitations and ceilings that prevent your growth. While it is still possible to invest and become successful, as an entrepreneur, the only limits you have are the ones you place on yourself. Financially successful entrepreneurs have another set of traits that the average population may not possess which lends to their success:

  • They take action – Entrepreneurs don’t wait for someone else to do something – they take action and get it done themselves.
  • They’re not afraid to fail – People who create and start things from scratch are not afraid of failure. In fact, entrepreneurs are generally the type of people who embrace failure and see it as a stepping stone that brings them one step closer to success.
  • They able and willing to change – Entrepreneurs and financially successful individuals are not afraid to change. They recognize when things are not going well and learn when it’s time to change direction to avoid wasting money with ideas that are not fully developed.


What traits do you have and which ones do you need to work on?


in Practical Solutions, Social
  • Anna

    Hi, I'm Anna! I paid off close to 24k in debt in only 15 months & it completely changed my life! I want you to have a debt-free life too so here you'll be able to read all about: How to do a Spending Fast®, saving & making more money, DIY's, & a lot about living awesomely with less. Let's do this!

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