Accounting Basics

Sales! Overhead! Purchases! Now that you’re years away from your undergraduate degree, you might be kicking yourself for not taking advantage of those accounting classes. But you don’t have to go back to college to learn basic principles that will help you do a better job managing your business. Try one of these options, many of them free, to get you caught up to speed on how to keep your balance sheet looking good and free of errors without ever setting foot on a college campus.

Take Advantage of Free University and College Classes Online

This isn’t the same as going back to college, I promise. All the classes you’ll find here don’t require any fees, any commitments, or any getting up at 8AM and stumbling to an early class in your sweatpants. (You can still wear sweatpants, you just don’t have to leave the house.) The New Jersey Institute of Technology, The University of Michigan, Indiana University, and even MIT (yes, that MIT) offer free courses of various lengths and styles. Some even include exam questions and solutions so you can test yourself on the material.

Try Khan Academy (It’s Also Free)

If you don’t yet know about the wonders of Khan Academy, make haste! Its motto “For free. Forever. For everyone,” can’t be argued with, and it’s got great classes on practically everything. This includes its enormous list of videos, articles, and exercises to help you learn and then practice your newfound skills in accounting (without paying a single penny).

Attend Wharton Via Coursera

You probably don’t have the time, money, grades (and let’s be real, connections) to attend the Wharton School of Business in real life, you can take their incredible Introduction to Financial Accounting course through Coursera. Auditing the class is free (because many good things in life are free), and you can access all the course materials. If you want to actually submit assignments and have them graded, you can pay and get a certificate of course completion at the close of the course (assuming that you pass all of the assignments.

Check out the Best of Youtube

If all that MIT, Wharton, big-time university talk had you feeling intimidated, try Accounting 1 on YouTube. The playlist features 39 videos from Professor Dave Krug of Johnson County Community College (see? Not intimidating at all) and is genuinely enjoyable. Bonus: you get to watch the varying expressions of his students as some of them are apparently completely unaware that they’re being filmed. When you’re done hitting the books, browse some of these funny and heartwarming accounting videos collected by Accounting Today.

Buy a Bestselling Book

With titles like Get What’s Yours, Accounting Made Simple, Profit First, and Small Time Operator, these are the kind of books that you’ll actually have a good time reading while you’re learning about how to straighten up the money side of your business. Of course you’ll have to do more than read it cover to cover and toss it aside; applicability is the name of the game when it comes to putting principles into practice. Read the reviews to decide which one’s right for you and become a lot more savvy about how you spend, invest, and save when it comes to your business.


William Lipovsky owns the personal finance website First Quarter Finance. His most embarrassing moment was telling a Microsoft executive, "I'll just Google it."

Pin It on Pinterest