Online Class: Investing 101 — Stocks, Bonds, and Mutual Funds

Using practical examples, actual stories from real investment advisers, and lists of great online resources, each lesson in this online class builds on the last to give you the clarity needed to understand investments. By the time you are done with this course, you will have found a few investments you can enjoy and you will be able to start investing right away with the assurance that you know what you're doing.

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Course Description

Unlocking the Stock Market: A Comprehensive Guide to Savvy Investing

Navigating the intricate world of the stock market can often seem like deciphering an enigma. With fluctuating stocks, a plethora of investment options, and ever-changing economic landscapes, one can feel overwhelmed. However, as a 2021 Gallup poll indicated, 55% of Americans are invested in the stock market, which underscores its viability as a cornerstone of financial strategy.

Welcome to our meticulously crafted course that promises not just to demystify the stock market but to transform you into a confident, knowledgeable investor. Whether you're safeguarding your life's savings or hunting for aggressive growth opportunities, the stock market offers a spectrum of choices tailored for everyone.

Why Invest?

According to the historical data, the average annual return since the S&P 500's inception in 1926 through 2020 is approximately 10%–12%. While past performance doesn't guarantee future results, these figures highlight the potential rewards of informed investing.

Course Breakdown:

Lesson 1: General Economic and Market Information

  • Overview: Kickstart your journey by grasping the fundamental concepts of economics and the stock market. Utilize real-world data to understand market trends, historical performances, and the external factors affecting market movements.

    Example: Analyze the economic impact of the 2008 financial crisis and its subsequent recovery trajectory.

Lesson 2: Building an Investment Portfolio

  • Overview: Dive into the art of curating a balanced, diversified investment portfolio that aligns with your financial goals and risk tolerance.

    Example: Meet Jane, a 30-year-old professional who achieved a balanced portfolio, ensuring her short-term goals were funded, while also planning for retirement.

Lesson 3: Common and Preferred Stocks

  • Overview: Distinguish between common and preferred stocks, their benefits, potential risks, and their role in your investment strategy.

    Example: Explore why tech giants like Apple have been popular choices for common stock investments while understanding the perks of preferred stocks offered by companies like Wells Fargo.

Lesson 4: Bonds and Other Fixed Income Securities Information

  • Overview: Gain insights into the world of bonds, their significance in stabilizing portfolios, and how they compare to other fixed-income securities.

    Example: Analyze the US Treasury Bonds' performance during economic downturns and how they serve as safe havens during market volatilities.

Lesson 5: Mutual Funds

  • Overview: Simplify your investment approach through mutual funds. Understand their structure, benefits, and how to select one that complements your investment strategy.

    Example: Delve into the Vanguard 500 Index Fund, one of the most renowned mutual funds, and its decades-long performance.

Lesson 6: Other Investments

  • Overview: Explore alternative investment avenues like real estate, commodities, and ETFs, evaluating their pros and cons.

Using authentic anecdotes from successful investment advisers, you'll gain a holistic view of different investment scenarios. By the culmination of this course, not only will you be equipped with the knowledge of a vast array of investment options, but you'll also have honed the skills to evaluate and choose ones that resonate with your personal and financial aspirations.

Furthermore, our extensive compilation of online resources, readings, and tools will ensure you're always abreast of the latest trends and data, positioning you for informed decisions.

In the words of Warren Buffett, "The stock market is a device for transferring money from the impatient to the patient." Patience, combined with knowledge, is a formidable combination. So, if you envision a future where your finances work for you, amplifying your wealth, this course is your stepping stone. Join us, and embark on your journey to financial mastery!

Course Motivation

Investing is a life-long educational journey - but an enjoyable and enriching one. People can devote their lives to learning about investments. By taking this course, you are well on your way to learning the basics of investing. Once you have finished this course, you should be armed with enough information to begin investing. 

Investing or "being in the stock market" does not guarantee that you will make money. In fact, if you remember the famous "tech boom" that took place in 2000 and 2001, you may recall that many investors lost a lot of money because of that market which grew incredibly and then collapsed. What you'll learn in this course will help you avoid the mistakes that many investors made then.

When the economy is good everyone makes money. During the tech boom of 2000 and 2001, the market was flooded with "newbie" investors who dumped all of their money into stocks without any real research or knowledge (based mostly on tips they heard from their brother's neighbor's friend's cousin!). Because of the number of people in the stock market, prices naturally rose and it seemed like EVERYBODY made money without even trying. However, when stock prices got a little shaky, many of those inexperienced investors then pulled out and without realizing it became the cause of their own downfall!

What they needed was a basic instructional guide --which is what you'll have through taking this course. While you may not make a fortune by investing with what you learn from this guide (although you might!), you will learn how to make smart investment choices that are based on a solid foundation of knowledge (not rumor) and you will be able to weather the storms that will come. Once you've learned the important investing details, you can then build on this knowledge with specialized courses to become even more successful.


Everything starts with a basic understanding of the economy.


A Short Introduction to the Economy

The economy is like a living organism. It can be healthy or sick, it can grow or diminish, and it has periods of vitality and periods of rest. What makes it most like a living organism, though, is the principle of interdependence. We can't just look at something and say "that is the economy." Instead, the economy is made up of the exchange of money for goods and services between individuals, businesses, and governments. But even that description is very simplistic! It is also the relationship between supply and demand, employment, inventories, as well as government policies and people's attitudes. Our bodies are interdependent on the functions and processes inside and outside of ourselves, so too, the economy is interdependent on many factors. These factors influence whether the economy is considered "good" or "bad" by those who live in it.

Although you and I might dub an economy either good or bad, in general, economists have found that the economy moves in 4 phases. We'll look at the 4 phases:  growth, peak, contraction and trough, but understand that the description here is a generalized description and so many other factors are involved.

The "growth phase" is a phase where buyers are clamoring for goods, which requires those goods to be made, which requires manufacturers to build more (and hire more people to build those goods). Those newly hired people now have more money to buy more goods--feeding the cycle. It is a very good phase - everyone's favorite part of the economic cycle - and the reason why everyone was making money during the tech boom. Newspaper headlines most often read "Help Wanted."

At some point, though, inventories catch up to demand and people are buying goods as fast as they can be produced. Money is good. Everyone is happy. This is called the "peak phase".  Newspaper headlines most often read "It Will Never End!!!"

Then, because inventories have caught up to demand, prices drop a little (because the product is no longer hard to get). Manufacturers don't need to employ people to work double overtime to catch up with orders, so hours are cut back. Since hours are cut back, people have less to spend. Anticipating a shortage of money, they save more than they normally do by curbing their spending. This is the "contraction phase". When other factors are present it is sometimes called a recession and has even been the start of the Great Depression in 1929. But in general, all economies go through contractions normally. Times are tight but they should not be confused with recessions or depressions. Newspaper headlines most often read "Unemployment Grows."

The fourth phase is the "trough phase". Demand for goods is at its lowest so manufacturers are closing their doors and laying people off. So no one has money to spend on extra items. Instead they save their money for things they desperately need. Newspaper headlines most often read "Will It Ever End???"

Even though things may be tight financially during a contraction and trough, it doesn't last. Slowly, things pick up and the process is started again.

Economists expect the economy to go through all four stages. This is normal and healthy. At first we might wonder why we would want to go through a contraction and a trough. They are not always pleasant (although they're not that bad as long as they don't get to the recession stage). But we do need them. Why? Because of inflation.

Inflation is the rising cost of goods and it is linked to supply and demand.
Consider this example:
If there are only ten products on the market and 100 people want them badly, they may be willing to spend $50 per item to acquire them. If we were always in a growth or peak phase, there would never ever be enough products for people so the price of those items would rise and rise and rise. Years later, 1000 people wanting only 100 products on the market might be willing to spend $500 per item. And people are willing to pay it because there are plenty of jobs and a shortage of workers, so companies have to pay more and more for people to work for them. Thus, wages (and spending income) increases at the same time prices do. People with more money are willing to spend more on products they want. However, just at the crest of the peak phase as we collapse into the contraction phase, inventories have been caught up to demand and begin to surpass demand. There are now 200 items for 50 people who want to buy. So stores have to put the products on sale -- perhaps 2 for 1 sales, for example. So each item is now only worth $25. At the same time, manufacturers don't need as many employees anymore so they are laying them off and cutting back wages because there are now lots of extra potential employees willing to work at a cheaper price.
Of course the numbers used here are just exaggerations for illustrative purposes only. There are many factors involved in inflation and this is just a basic snapshot to help you understand.

Ultimately, we need a contraction to help the economy rest a little. Just like our bodies can't operate at full capacity 24 hours a day. To help avoid financial ruin for many people, government bodies like the Federal Reserve in the USA (and similar organizations in most other countries) make adjustments to the amount of money in the economy and to the interest rates in order to help manage these 4 stages. Peaks that don't get too high and troughs that don't get too low. You may have heard of the term "soft landing" which is what economic decision makers try to do when they know a contraction is expected. Like an airplane, they make decisions to help bring the economy in for a soft landing so that it can be ready to take off again shortly.

But here's something that most people don't know:  an economy is only as healthy as the amount of money that is flowing. During the growth and peak phase, there is a lot of money flowing: just about everyone has a job and they're spending like crazy. During the contraction phase, people are concerned about their job security and they begin saving money in case they get laid off or because they think their wages might be cut. Because so many people do this, money is taken out of the economy and stored away (in a savings account or under a mattress). Although it sounds counter-intuitive, one way to improve a falling economy is to spend more money. In order to get it out from under the mattress and into the economy!




In this class, we're going to look at specific types of investments to help you understand (and hopefully profit) from them. But you need to understand a few things first:

1.      Every investor is different and not every investment is the right investment for everyone. Different investments are appropriate for different people, depending on many factors. Nothing here should be considered a specific recommendation to your situation, but rather just given to provide general information. You should talk to a professional to determine your own investment situation.
2.      There are so many different kinds of investments all over the world. They change all the time and they go by different names. For example, a short term guaranteed deposit is called a Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) in Canada and a Certificate of Deposit (CD) in the US. In general, we will refer to the most common name - the American name - for these investments but you should familiarize yourself with the names of these types of investments in your country. Also understand that there may be subtle differences you should make yourself aware of. Even the term investment representative and investment adviser mean different things in different countries.
Although many people lack the knowledge and experience needed to invest in the stock market, they blindly rush in and put their money down – only to find that they’ve made a big mistake.

And it’s a mistake that can be avoided.

This course will show you the mistakes that were made and how they could have been avoided – and you’ll be able to apply that knowledge to your own portfolio.

You’ll also learn the fundamentals of the stock market – so that you can make wise choices.  While there are other so-called investment e-courses that will offer you a “fool-proof plan” with charts and graphs, don’t be taken in by someone who claims to have made a bundle on the stock market and is guaranteeing that you’ll do the same.

They’re wrong – there are no guarantees.

However, in this course, you will learn the way that the economy works and how the stock market fits into the economy.  You’ll then learn about financial portfolios and what it takes to build a strong, solid one – and between the lesson on the economy and the lesson on your portfolio, you’ll have the tools needed to know when to buy and when to sell – and, more importantly, you’ll have all the knowledge you need to make intelligent and sound choices.

In today’s marketplace, more and more people are coming to understand the need to have a working background knowledge of investment.  After all, who better to watch over your assets than yourself? 

Unfortunately, too many people lack that knowledge and don’t understand the workings of the stock market.  As a consequence, they have haphazard investment strategies and that can lead to financial loss.  Had these individuals understood the workings of the stock market, they would be able to maintain a portfolio throughout various fluctuations in the market.

Many people are put off by the thought of handling their own investments because they feel that the stock market is too complex and that no one other than a professional can really know how to understand the workings of the market.


In this course, you’ll learn what it takes to truly understand the workings of the stock market and you’ll see how you can apply your knowledge so that you can build a strong portfolio and have a sense of security – as well as insights that you can share with your family and others.

You’ll learn the following aspects of investing:

·        General economic and market information:  You’ll start off with a general lesson of the economy and you’ll discover the four phases of an economic cycle and how inflation plays a role.  Unlike some of the high school economics courses that you might have taken, you’ll be given a valid and solid working knowledge of the economy.

·        Building an investment portfolio:  Moving on, you’ll examine your financial and investment portfolios and you’ll understand what has to be included.  You’ll also learn about the two types of investments – along with the risk/reward ratio.

·        Common and preferred stocks:  You’ll learn about stocks – which stocks to buy, when to sell, and how to make money on the stocks that you’ve bought.  You’ll also learn about such aspects as dividends, the market price, and leading indicators. 

·        Bond and other fixed income securities information:  You’ll understand what bonds are and the benefits of other fixed income securities.

·        Mutual funds:  You’ll be focusing on mutual funds and learn how to invest in them – as well as why you should invest in mutual funds.  You’ll also learn some strategies that will assist you with mutual funds as well as pick up some tips for success.

·        Other investments:  Finally, you learn about the commodities market, as well as other types of investments.  You’ll see the difference between the commodities market and the stock market, and you’ll be given a full understanding of futures, options, and how to make money with other types of investments.

Above all, you’ll come away from this course with a sense of confidence in your own abilities to manage your portfolio – and you’ll see the workings of the economy in a whole new light.

  • Completely Online
  • Self-Paced
  • Printable Lessons
  • Full HD Video  
  • 6 Months to Complete
  • 24/7 Availability
  • Start Anytime
  • PC & Mac Compatible
  • Android & iOS Friendly
  • Accredited CEUs
Universal Class is an IACET Accredited Provider

Course Lessons

Average Lesson Rating:
4.4 / 5 Stars (Average Rating)
"Extraordinarily Helpful"
(4,328 votes)

Lesson 1: General Economic and Market Information

We will begin with a general lesson on the economy. We will go over the four phases of an economic cycle and how inflation plays a role. We will then examine the stock market and go over the differences between exchanges and indexes, and the role of broke 27 Total Points
  • Lesson 1 Video
  • Lesson discussions: Reasons for Taking this Course
  • Complete Assignment: What Mystifies Me...
  • Assessment: Lesson 1- Introduction to the Economy

Lesson 2: Building an Investment Portfolio

In this lesson we will go over your financial and investment portfolios and what should be included. The two types of investment along with the risk/reward ratio will also be discussed. 25 Total Points
  • Lesson 2 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 2- Building an Investment Portfolio

Lesson 3: Common and Preferred Stocks

In this lesson topics are covered that will help you understand stocks, which stocks to buy, when to sell, and how to make money on the stocks you decide to buy. Dividends, the market price, leading indicators and coincident indicators are also presented 55 Total Points
  • Lesson 3 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 3- Common and Preferred Stocks

Lesson 4: Bond and Other Fixed Income Securities Information

In this lesson we will go over Bonds and the benefits of other fixed income securities. 30 Total Points
  • Lesson 4 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 4- Understanding Bonds

Lesson 5: Mutual Funds

In this lesson we will focus on mutual funds covering topics that will include: how to invest in mutual funds, why invest in mutual funds, how to make money with mutual funds, and strategies/ tips for success. 15 Total Points
  • Lesson 5 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 5- Mutual Funds

Lesson 6: Other Investments

In this lesson we will focus on the Commodities Market and other types of investments. Topics covered will include the commodities Market vs. stock market, futures, options, and how to make money with other types of investments. 215 Total Points
  • Lesson 6 Video
  • Lesson discussions: How would you rate this course?; Program Evaluation Follow-up Survey (End of Course); Course Comments
  • Assessment: Lesson 6- Other Investments
  • Assessment: Final Exam
Total Course Points

Learning Outcomes

By successfully completing this course, students will be able to:
  • Describe the general economy.
  • Describe how to build an investment portfolio.
  • Compare and contrast common and preferred stocks.
  • Summarize bond and other fixed income securities information.
  • Describe the pros and cons of investing in mutual funds.
  • Describe other, more risky investment options.
  • Demonstrate mastery of lesson content at levels of 70% or higher.

Additional Course Information

Online CEU Certificate
  • Document Your Lifelong Learning Achievements
  • Earn an Official Certificate Documenting Course Hours and CEUs
  • Verify Your Certificate with a Unique Serial Number Online
  • View and Share Your Certificate Online or Download/Print as PDF
  • Display Your Certificate on Your Resume and Promote Your Achievements Using Social Media
Document Your CEUs on Your Resume
Course Title: Investing 101: Stocks, Bonds, and Mutual Funds
Course Number: 8900061
Lessons Rating: 4.4 / 5 Stars (4,328 votes)
Languages: English - United States, Canada and other English speaking countries
Availability: This course is online and available in all 50 states including: California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Texas.
Last Updated: October 2023
Course Type: Self-Paced, Online Class
CEU Value: 0.4 IACET CEUs (Continuing Education Units)
CE Accreditation: Universal Class, Inc. has been accredited as an Authorized Provider by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).
Grading Policy: Earn a final grade of 70% or higher to receive an online/downloadable CEU Certification documenting CEUs earned.
Assessment Method: Lesson assignments and review exams
Instructor: John Chouinard
Syllabus: View Syllabus
Course Fee: $120.00 U.S. dollars

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