When it comes to spoken word education and entertainment, podcasts are a media on the rise. Podcasts are similar to radio shows and are available in downloadable episodes. Episodes generally focus on a specific topic and can last anywhere from 5 minutes to 2 hours or more. They can be listened to on a smartphone, ipod, tablet, or computer. Unlike articles, blogs, books, or sitting down with a financial counselor or advisor (which require your full attention) podcasts only require that you turn them on and listen. You can download episodes on various interesting topics and listen to them at your convenience—while you work out, drive to work, or do household chores. It isn’t surprising why this easy-to-create medium has become increasingly popular over the past decade. In a 2016 study conducted by WONDERY and comScore, “Nearly one in five Americans aged 18-49 report listening to podcasts at least once a month, while nearly one in three men 18-34 do so.” With so many listeners, it’s no wonder that there are quite a few personal finance podcasts available. Here are some of the pros and cons of using podcasts to educate yourself on personal finance:
- Easy to use. Anyone with a smart device can download a podcasting app. Additionally, most popular music apps have a way to access podcasts. Most apps allow you to subscribe to your favorite show and episodes are automatically delivered to your listening queue.
- Convenient. Episodes are available through multiple devices. Listeners can pause episodes to fit into their schedule or binge listen for hours. Podcasts can be listened to about anywhere. All you need is a set of headphones.
- Free (or minimal cost). The majority of podcasts rely on voluntary donations or are sponsored. This allows them to produce their shows for free. If a fee is involved it’s generally an initial purchase or subscription fee for the podcasting app itself.
- Educational. Podcasts offer a variety of subjects and financial information levels. This includes everything from beginner budgeting to advanced investing strategies. Once listeners find a show they like, it may open them up to learning about new topics.
- Habit building. Most podcasts release new episodes every week. This allows regular listeners to get in the habit of thinking about money, money habits, and financial topics. Listeners can also replay episodes at anytime to refresh information they previously learned.
- Widespread. Compared to financial journals, podcasts can effortlessly reach a larger portion of the population. With a simple search on your podcasting app, you can pull up a list of finance related podcasts, complete with reviews.
- Unobtrusive. Podcasts provide a passive way to learn about personal finance. Listeners don’t have to share personal information and aren’t judged by their lack of knowledge.
- There is no outside review or oversight to ensure the presented information is accurate and unbiased. Fact checking is left up to the listener, and there’s virtually no way to verify they understood the offered information in full.
- Complicated topics may be covered in a way that leads listeners to feel overconfident in their knowledge. If the average length of a podcast is 15 minutes, a host might be able to tell listeners about a savings account, but it’s unlikely they could fully cover all the pros and cons of different retirement accounts.
- Most shows have sponsors and take commercial breaks to advertise products. It may be difficult for listeners to discern a trusted show host recommendation from an advertisement. This becomes especially problematic if a show is sponsored by a financial service or bank.
While these factors could lead to some serious consequences, hopefully most listeners will do their own research or critical thinking beyond the podcast. Podcasts can be excellent gateways to exploring more traditional financial education tools like articles and research journals, and ultimately seeking financial advice from a trusted financial counselor, coach or planner. Overall, podcasts seem to provide an easy way to educate a variety of people on personal finance. Why not try listening in?
What are some of your favorite personal finance podcasts?
Guest Contributor: Jennifer Grudis Ader AFC®
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