Living with credit, New products

5 personal finance podcasts that will make you smarter

Jeff Herman

There are dozens of personal finance podcasts – some from big names (Dave Ramsey) and well-known brands (Freakonomics) – but the ones I like best mix humor, honesty and news I can use.

If I laugh a bit while I learn, all the better.

Here are five personal finance podcasts that both delight me and make me smarter – and hopefully will do the same for you.

Planet Money: This gem from NPR isn’t always money focused, but it’s chock full of interesting short segments that leave me waiting to listen to the next episode.

The recent “I’m so happy for you” episode had short bits and interviews with the obituary writer for The Economist (she has 36 hours to file her story after she gets the call) and the editor of the Tedium newsletter (he once wrote a story on the history of ranch dressing). These segments weren’t money related, but they left me wishing I had thought to ring up these interesting people.

I learn so much from every Planet Money episode. With the mix of voices, short segments, prerecorded audio interviews, Planet Money has my full attention for the duration. With such a range of topics covered and voices heard, each episode really is a finely produced radio show – which makes sense since Planet Money is an NPR show.

Oh, and if you do give a listen to that “I’m so happy for you” episode, stay to the end for the kicker which explains the origin of the title for that week’s show. I love a closing segment that rewards the audience for getting to the finish.

Listen Money Matters: From the opening “What are you drinking?” to the catch phrase to the banter between the hosts and guests, Listen Money Matters has personality and personal finance. It’s fun and informative, but don’t listen to this podcast when you’re hauling the kids to school in the minivan.

I asked co-host Andrew Fiebert what makes LMM stand out from the crowd. “As for what I think makes a great podcast, and I’m far from a pro, is honesty,” he says. “I feel like there are a lot of sales-y shows out there or simply people trying to be something they’re not.”

His favorite podcasts? “Freakonomics – easy pick, Hard Core History, TED Radio Hour, Startup and Reply All.”

And what’s one of the best LMM episodes? “My favorite and a general favorite of the audience are the four we did this past September – a rental property series. I did a crazy amount of research, bought three properties to rent myself and basically broke it all down.”

Listen Money Matters is most of all as Fiebert says “a conversation of smart people who shoot from the hip” that leaves the listener smarter and sometimes chuckling. Oh, and the beer recommendations in the Show Notes online are a bonus.

The Money Jar: Listening to this personal finance podcast with your children is encouraged. The Money Jar, produced by Junior Achievement, is a podcast about kids, families and money.

Issues covered range from “Allowances: Yay or Nay?” to an upcoming discussion with the Jessica Jackley, founder of the Kiva micro-lending site. Listeners include middle school and high school students and their parents, says John Hancock, president of Junior Achievement of Oregon and Southwest Washington.

“Kids tune in because the financial concepts aren’t particularly complicated,” Hancock says. “Parents listen to the show because it’s super practical.”

The Money Jar is produced on a shoestring in JA’s offices in Portland, Hancock says, and its hosts are both volunteers. When the first episode aired in 2012, it represented an effort by Junior Achievement to extend its message of financial literacy, business skills and success stories via a new medium.

The recent episode “What is your financial IQ?” is the one that caught my ear. Show co-hosts Todd Yuzuriha and Evan Wilson put their producer on the hot seat, asking him financial literacy questions developed by the FINRA Investor Education Foundation.

Through the episode, I kept kicking myself wishing that I’d thought of using the quiz to illustrate concepts such as interest rates and inflation. What a great way to mix fun and financial concepts!

Afford Anything: Paula Pant, “the writer and instigator” behind Afford Anything, inspires me.

That word writer is key. Pant’s podcast is like listening to a finely crafted essay. In her most recent episode, “How to improve your relationship with money,” I can tell she sweated in choosing her words carefully. She used “umbrage” with the aural equivalent of a wink, for instance. She makes it all sound so effortless.

There are some people who you’d listen to them read the phone book (if they still made those), and Pant is one of those voices for me. Whether I’m stuck in traffic here in Austin, Texas, working out at the gym or walking the dog around the trails where I live, Pant’s perspective on money and living in the moment gives me hope that I, too, can Afford Anything.

Pant’s story, from her website, is that she graduated from college, landed her dream gig as a newspaper reporter. She didn’t earn much, but she enjoyed her work.

“Life was awesome,” she writes. “Except for one teeny-tiny little problem: I lacked freedom.

“So I saved money. Like a maniac. … Slowly, hundreds turned into thousands.”

After a whirlwind, worldwide adventure, she returned to the U.S. Through real estate investments, she gained financial independence. She’s not filthy rich, but she’s financially independent. When she wants to go for a hike, she does.

What comes through in her podcast is that she’s genuine. She’s not plugging a sponsor’s product. As she says, she’s exploring, just as all of us are.   

Charged Up!: Jenny Hoff, a former TV reporter who hosts’s Charged Up!, says her “podcast idol” is Clark Howard. “He has a no-nonsense way of giving actionable advice.”

That’s also what Hoff, a managing editor at, strives to deliver in each episode.

“I concentrate on letting my guests do the talking,” she says. “It’s exciting for me to hear from people who have dedicated their careers to figuring out money, and I want my listeners to get as many minutes with them as possible.

“It’s important to me to always end with actionable items the listener can leave with,” Hoff says.

Though Charged Up! debuted in January, it’s been on iTunes’ New and Noteworthy list for weeks.

What’s been her favorite episode so far? “I really enjoyed doing was ‘The index card that went viral.’ Professor Harold Pollack doesn’t deal with finance, yet he was able to reach hundreds of thousands of people by showing the simplicity of personal finance through writing ‘all you need to know’ on an index card. I loved that.”

And any great guests coming up? “I’m especially excited about the episode featuring Robert Kiyosaki that will air the first week of March,” Hoff says. “He wrote ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad,’ a book that touched millions of people by teaching them financial skills most of us who grow up in middle-class households never learn.”

To hear that upcoming Charged Up! episode and others, just check’s podcasts library.

With any of the podcasts above, you’ll be smarter for giving them a listen. I know I am.

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