In our last episode, we discussed the challenges of overcoming poverty.
It’s easy to say people need to earn more money. Of course that’s an issue – but where to begin when you lack the funds?
Even if you’re above the poverty level, it might seem impossible to obtain a college degree (something many employers deem necessary) without encountering a pile of student loan debt.
Yet, if you’ve ever searched for a job, you know that you might face another challenge: having the necessary experience required even for an entry-level career.
Starting a business or side hustle might also be out – even though online businesses don’t require a lot of capital to get started, and have minimum overhead, any extra costs can be a burden.
It might seem like the odds are stacked against you, but they’re not. Thankfully, there are other free resources out there that you can use you improve your skills. Do this, and you should be able to put yourself in a better position for higher-paying opportunities.
Not all jobs require a degree. Some jobs just require connections and proof you can keep to your word and execute projects.
1. Massive Open Online Courses
Maybe you don’t have the money to go to college, even when enlisting the help of financial aid. That’s okay. As Chonce and Femme said on the podcast, education is important, but there are other informal ways to receive it.
Enter – massive open online courses, or MOOCs. These give you a college education at no price, and from the comfort of your home (or library).
The great thing about these is you can take several different classes and not follow a strict curriculum, meaning you can change direction if you find you’re not interested in a certain subject. You don’t have to fear wasting money by dropping out of a class mid-semester like you would in college.
MOOCs are provided by tons of universities and online platforms. Here are a few you can check out:
And if you’re interested in tech, you’re in luck, as there are tons of sites out there dedicated to programming, app development, web development, networking, etc. for free. Udacity has some (check free on the sidebar), there’s Codecademy, and Cybrary, just to name a few.
Last, but not least, don’t leave out YouTube. There are a variety of educational channels on there like CrashCourse that give you overviews of subjects.
2. Free Community Resources
While free online courses are a great option to learn new skills, everything can’t be learned online. If you need more hands-on experience, I’d encourage you to check out free community resources offered by organizations in your area and even your local library.
If you would like to become more computer savvy but don’t own a computer or don’t know where to start, you can check to see if your library offers free computer training classes. Libraries also host seminars and some even allow you to rent equipment like laptops, software, sound and audio equipment and more.
Some tax offices like Liberty Tax Service provide free training classes for the community if you have an interest in accounting and filing taxes. To my knowledge, Liberty Tax Service only charges students for the price of the two books needed to take the course. I’m sure that are other companies that offer similar classes with an opportunity to work at their location during tax season.
Other community events and resources that I found useful for helping people get out of poverty were personal finance seminars and events. Once you improve your skill set, you need to make sure you are managing your money well in order to improve your situation.
Whether it’s a free budgeting presentation or a seminar about grants and financial assistance for first time homeowners, it can help provide you with the knowledge and resources you need to improve your finances.
Start by checking with churches, charities, the library and the park district for free resources, events, and training sessions that can help you.
3. Your Local Extension Office
My library doesn’t offer many resources similar to those mentioned, but I do have the luxury of having an Extension Office in my hometown. State Extension programs differ by state, and programs and resources can even differ by city or county, but all Extension offices offer some resources that you may find valuable.
For example, my Extension Office offers different programs that are free to the community about personal and household finances, saving money, cooking at home, learning new skills, improving your health, and more. Some of these programs may be able to help you learn new skills and network to gain better employment opportunities.
What free resources have you used to improve your skills? How did you gain experience for your first job? How did to work to earn more?