While pondering potential goals for the New Year, I ended up poking around Certified Financial Planner (CFP) Certification Education Programs. I have been toying with the idea of taking one of these courses off and on for years, which helps you fulfill the first two requirements of obtaining the CFP certification:

  • Education. Completion of CFP Board-approved coursework, and a bachelor’s degree in any discipline from an accredited college or university.
  • Exam. Pass the CFP® Exam, which is 6 hours long and consists of 170 multiple-choice questions covering a variety of topics.
  • Experience. Complete 6,000 hours of professional experience related to the financial planning process, or 4,000 hours of apprenticeship experience that meets additional requirements.
  • Ethics. Pass the Candidate Fitness and Standards Background Check.

I have no plans to pursue a career as a financial planner, as even helping my parents with their portfolio is stressful enough on it own. Accordingly, I don’t plan on completing the Experience requirement and thus won’t be able to obtain the actual CFP certification. So why bother spending thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of time?

  • I do plan on managing my own portfolio and financial situation (and portfolio of my parents) for the next few decades and beyond.
  • I know that I enjoy financial topics in general and am curious to fill any knowledge gaps that I have.
  • I’m curious about what the CFP board thinks is important and “correct”.
  • Hopefully I will find some useful information to share with you readers.
  • Even at a robo-advisor-like annual management fee of 0.30%, a $1 million portfolio would still cost $3,000 in fees each year. For someone who has accumulated a significant portfolio, it doesn’t seem completely reckless to spend $3,000 learning this stuff instead.

I read some reviews and comparisons, and somehow ended up on the website for the University of Georgia Self-Paced Online CFP® Program. This wasn’t the most well-known program, or the oldest program, but it seemed like a decent CFP Board-registered program and covered all the required topics at a relatively affordable cost of $3,250 (+$750 for optional textbooks). There are six courses and a capstone course where you develop an actual financial plan:

  • Fundamentals of Financial Planning
  • Insurance Planning
  • Investment Planning
  • Income Tax Planning
  • Retirement Planning
  • Estate Planning
  • Developing the Financial Plan

I filled out the form for a “free Demo”, and shortly thereafter received an e-mail offer for $700 off the “sticker” price. This offer has since expired, but I share this story for those seriously interested as you might also decide to express interest and see if you get an offer. The course itself appears to be run by a third-party called Greene Consulting, which runs the CFP courses for five different universities including UGA. (Yes, I checked them all, and they all list the same prices.)

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Note: I have no affiliation with this program besides being a paying customer. Oh yes, I forgot, I impulsively bought the program after receiving the discount offer. I had already “anchored” myself to paying the $3,250 and felt it was a good deal… I fell for the old infomercial trick! But honestly, if you compare prices for CFP courses (full core content, excluding textbooks), this was definitely the cheapest net price that I’ve found.

This self-paced program allows you up to 21 months to complete all of the courses. My plan is to complete one course per month starting this month (February), and so right now I’m only about halfway through the first course “Fundamentals of Financial Planning”. I did go ahead and purchase physical textbooks (I’m old-fashioned… and old), but I haven’t had to open them yet. They use the financial textbooks from Money Education, and I paid $750 through UGA for the complete set.

Note that many financial professionals decide to take an additional “exam cram course” with lots of practice questions that is solely focused on passing the CFP Exam. This adds roughly another $1,000 on top of the ~$925 to actually take the CFP Exam itself! I don’t know if all that extra cost will be worth being able to say “I passed the CFP Exam!” when I don’t need the CFP certification for career advancement purposes.

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Taking a Self-Paced CFP Education Course For Fun and… Personal Knowledge from My Money Blog.

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