Why do I need a course like FF1?

Because nobody else can learn financial knowledge for you. And yet financial maturity is critical for leading a self-determined life. Most financial literacy courses don’t talk specifically about YOUR finances. Most books on personal finance don’t examine the details of your personal circumstances and don't force you to do the work. Most webinars don’t answer your follow-up questions. And there isn’t a financial advisor in the world who can help you if you haven't gotten clear about money yourself.

Why take this course in particular?

It's specific to you. Through more than 30 lessons, you'll learn the basics of successfully taking control of your financial future. More importantly, the lessons are paired with prompts and exercises designed to make you do the work—no matter where you are in your financial journey. It's less about learning the tactics of financial independence and more about the attitudes, mindsets, and beliefs you need to change to get there. All questions and answers are shared on the discussion boards—a confidential space available 24/7 to discuss and test out ideas with peers on the same path.

What do I lose by not taking the course?

Over 50% of Americans will not have enough money when they retire. They will depend on Social Security (which averages $1317 a month, not enough). Most people know they should plan and invest in their future but push it to the back of their minds. That’s the cost of hiding and waiting. That impoverished retirment and spending their lives living a life they didn’t want.

If it’s so important, why do so many people avoid their financial education?

For many people, there's a lot of shame and secrecy surrounding the topic of money. "I’m not ready, I’m don’t want to think about it, I'm ashamed of my circumstances and the mistakes I've made…" The problem with of all these thoughts is that you can't help yourself until you can accept your situation and decide to move forward.

How does FF1 help students get past emotional roadblocks regarding money?

The best way to learn personal finance is to engage in a learning space where you can safely share and think deeply about money with other people similarly committed to building their financial future. You’ll find the online forum a safe and encouraging practice of change. Throughout the lessons, you'll be led to connect with other classmates, to share your questions and ideas, to gain financial understanding, then to dig ever deeper. You can expect a process of internal inquiry, group connections, and recorded Q&A sessions. By engaging with this question-based, discussion-rich process, you will experience incremental and sustained transformation.

What if I can’t make FF1 fit in my schedule?

The course is online and on demand, so you can engage with the FF1 on your own time. When a question or insight hits you at a random hour, you can make a post and then gather the feedback you seek. In FF1, you're never late, and you’re never alone.

When is a good time to enroll?

Like planting a tree, the best time to plan for your financial future was yesterday (the miracle of compound interest is something we'll discuss in class). The second best time is right now.

Who is FF1 for?

FF1 is designed for people of all income brackets who want to face the facts of their financial life and find a way forward. It's a financial literacy course for people with an independent streak, willing to do things differently than the norm. It's for people who are willing to do the work and willing to make a change. It's for people willing to invest in others, and themselves, in a learning community.

Who is it not for?

It is not for people looking for an easy way out, or for facile solutions, or miracle cures, or get-rich quick schemes. This course is going to ask you questions and provide ideas that might require living differently and thinking differently. Financial freedom is about a new relationship with money and all the incremental changes to your life that come with that.

Why do you call FF1 “the most effective way to learn personal finance online”?

Yes, it’s a big claim. And we believe it's true. PUGS Financial Freedom is structured to give you the benefits of online learning: flexibility to work at your own pace and schedule, as well as offer the accountability, ideas, and support of a classroom community. The whole point is not to read about financial freedom but build a system to ACT on it.

What does the course look like in terms of work and timing?

Over 60 days, you'll post your work on 30 lessons, develop your perspective, and get ever closer to making the contribution to the world you seek. You'll get feedback from other students and will give feedback to others as well. The more you give, the more you receive. The most generous are the most successful. You can plan on investing about 20-40 minutes each lesson, but you can work at your own pace and on your own schedule. There are no grades, no assignments with deadlines, and no tests. Just a supportive learning space, ready for you to engage on your own schedule.

When does the course start and finish? How long do I have access to the course?

You have 60 days to complete all course materials. You can do it at your own pace and schedule, but it’s timebound to those 60 days to give you urgency and commitment  to do the work. That keeps the cohort together doing similar projects and helping each other out. After enrolling, you have unlimited access - across any and all devices you own.

How does the discussion board work?

We're using Discourse, a platform that supports group discussions and on-on-one conversation. FF administrators will set up categories, which will be labeled according to the lesson topic to be discussed. In each category, everyone will be able to create more specific topics of discussion, and to respond to the posts of others. These boards are open 24/7, providing a secure place to have conversations with seminar participants from all over the world, from different industries and with different backgrounds. FF has a dedicated coordinator who helps to focus discussions and to address concerns (or inappropriate behavior). But there is no moderator or grading rubric—you'll be in charge of when and how generously you interact with others.

What will my interactions with Douglas look like?

Douglas will moderate the discussion board and help keep you focused on asking the deep questions that undergird good financial thinking. You will benefit from his discussion moderation and group guidance, from interactions with others on the same journey, and, best of all, from an ongoing discussion with peers who are also seeking to change their relationship with money and realize their dreams. Douglas will be available by appointment for video or group chat as well. 

You have a unique incentive program for participating in the course. Tell me about it.

Yes! Most onlines courses want you to sign up and don't care if you do the work. At PUGS, we're serious about wanting you to succeed. We want you to actually engage in learning and community. We want you to change your relationship with money and help others too. You will enter our Discourse discussion board at Level 1, a "new user." If you reach Level 2, a "regular user," by completing all the lessons and contributing and commenting on other people's work within 30 days, you’ll get a 20% rebate of your tuition. You'll find out the exact metrics when you start lesson 1, but yes, we actually want to incent doing the hard work of learning and doing the fun work of helping others.

I'm a private person. I'm a little uncomfortable talking about the particulars of my financial situation with others.

Understood. We don't want anyone to feel like their privacy is violated. Part of the idea of the course is that talking about money is taboo. At the same time, there's a lot of shame and secrecy about money. Our belief is that you have to get comfortable about talking about money. Many of the discussions are focused on how you'd apply the lessons to your immediate life, because this kind of discussion helps to solidify the concepts and make them more memorable. We operate under a rule of unenforceable confidentiality: don't share what other people have shared with you. At the same time, don't share anything that would make you feel unsafe if that confidentiality was broken.

Tell me more about confidentiality.

It's sort of like Fight Club. The rules of our discussion board are: The first rule of PUGS FF is: What is said here, stays here. The second rule of PUGS FF is: What is said here, stays here. The third rule is: Contribute more than you ask for. The fourth rule is: Be kind. The third rule is, Use your best judgment. If it's not something you can happily post online, best to disguise the details before you post it here.

Why does it cost so much?

For a simple reason: money is a personal signal of your own commitment. Learning about and making a plan to achieve financial freedom is serious and we want committed students. We don't want people browsing around or hoping for a quick solution. We want you and your fellow participants to be willing to do the work and contribute to each other along the way. A university personal finance course would cost at least 10 times as much and deliver far less value. If you do the work and commit to financial freedom, this will have a return on investment far larger than what you paid. Many students have said that Financial Freedom has changed the course of their financial life.

Do you offer financial aid?

Yes! At PUGS, we believe that everyone has the right to learn throughout their lifetime, no matter their income. See the PUGS Pricing Generosity Policy here: https://www.pugspdx.com/generosity-policy/.

Are there exams? Do you offer a certificate or credits?

We're delighted to say no. And no grades, either. We feel really strongly that a test-and-measure culture is ruining education. This, more than any other course you'll ever take, is for yourself.