Sometimes you can find financial advice in the most unlikely of places.

Recently, I was browsing the website of the Oregon State University extension service for gardening information. Kris and I have found that university extension offices often have fantastic resources for do-it-yourselfers. Our extension office has gardening calendars and how-to articles, for example.

Apparently the extension office also offers a variety of financial resources. The front page of the OSU extension website promotes a new collection of material called Finding Help in Tough Times, which includes tips for seeking a job, writing a resume, buying a house, stretching your food dollar, and more. It also leads to Investing for Your Future, an investing system developed by Rutgers University and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. From the site:

This 11-unit home study course was developed by the Cooperative Extension system for beginning investors with small dollar amounts to invest at any one time. We assumed that many readers will be investing for the first time or selecting investment products, such as a stock index fund or unit investment trust, that they have not purchased previously.

This course starts by exploring the basics, and then moves to more advanced material. Along the way, the focus is on information that’s important to the home investor. The various study units include:

  1. The building blocks of successful financial management
  2. Investing basics
  3. Finding money to invest
  4. Ownership investments
  5. Fixed-income investing
  6. Mutual fund investing
  7. Tax-deferred investments
  8. Investing small dollar amounts
  9. Getting help: Investing resources
  10. Selecting financial professionals
  11. Investment fraud

Each unit contains a set of action steps to help readers decide what to do next. (And there’s a collection of all of the action steps at the end of the course, which can basically serve as a road-map to investing.) There’s also a series of monthly updates, as well as a glossary of financial terms.

My only complaint is that the navigation is non-intuitive. I expect “next” and “previous” links at the bottom of each page, but there aren’t any. To move around within a unit, the reader has to notice that there are links in the left-hand sidebar. But that’s a minor quibble.

Investing for Your Future won’t turn you into the next Warren Buffett, but it is an easy (and free) way to boost your financial literacy. It’s a great resource.