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How to Learn Almost Anything Online on a Budget

Online learning is a godsend to people who want to learn new skills but lack the means. Not only does it allow you to save time, it also lets you study on a budget. The vast variety of available online courses means there is virtually nothing you can’t learn these days. You just need to know where to look.

With the increasing cost of education, online courses are suddenly among the most viable options for learning new skills. One could say they address many of the needs of today’s learners. For one, you can access them through most mobile devices, which means you can study anytime and anywhere. You can squeeze them into your day no matter how busy you are. Most are broken down into two- or three-minute sessions, so nothing’s stopping you from studying while on the train home or waiting in line for your morning coffee.

Online courses are cheaper than conventional bachelor’s degrees. They cost less upfront and don’t burden you with extra expenses like transportation. Because most learning platforms provide their own resources, you don’t need to spend on books either.

But what if you’re strapped for cash? Online courses may cost less, but an expense is still an expense. Thankfully, this is where you will see what is perhaps the greatest beauty of online learning. You are never quite out of options.

Free Trial

Most online learning platforms offer free trial versions of their courses. The duration and coverage, as well as the mechanics of these trial versions vary. Some trials last for several days—usually seven to 10 days. Most of these courses are subscription-based, however, and auto-renew after the trial period. A good example of this is Treehouse, which offers all of its courses on coding for the first seven days. The good news is that you can cancel anytime during your trial with no additional cost.

Other learning platforms offer a specific number of lessons on trial. Fluencia, an app that teaches you how to speak Spanish, gives you the first few levels for free. This covers the basics, as well as greetings in Español. You will only need to pay if you want to uncover the rest of the lessons.

Creativelive is a platform that offers courses on a variety of creative topics, such as musical instruments and photography. You will find a wide array of lessons for every topic, each one composed of different videos featuring expert teachers. One needs to purchase the videos to watch them, although Creativelive offers a few as previews. You can watch these videos entirely for free, too.

Free trials offer a decent amount of information. While they may not be comprehensive nor complete, you can use them as quick resources. Just make sure to read the fine print.


There are online courses that you can start out in for free. However, you will need to purchase any additional content or features. A very good example of this edX, a massive open online course provider that offers tutorials on an immense range of topics. For instance, they offer MS Excel courses for people who want to master the office software.

You can try out edX’s Verified courses, which are entirely free. They are as good as paid ones, actually, and include everything from quizzes to projects. The catch is that this option does not give you a certificate once you have completed the course. You need to pay and upgrade to Verified status to get your proof of completion.

Alison, another course provider, follows the same principle. This is most notable in their photography course.

Freemium courses let you choose whether you get the courses free or you pay for them. Selecting the former option means you don’t obtain all the perks, but you get to boost your skillset just the same.


In case you were wondering, some things still come free, especially on the Internet. You just need to know where to look.

A solid example of a free learning application is Duolingo, which teaches you a splendid array of languages. The app is free for both download and use. It even gives you an in-app currency which you can use to unlock new features when you complete lessons.

Khan Academy, Bento, and TheCodePlayer are three websites that offer free coding resources. The content they offer range from video lessons to activities, as well as curated articles. Many of their lessons are focused on specific goals or coding languages, but are detailed enough.

If you want to learn to meditate, you can try out the Mindful Meditation Podcast by UCLA. This covers tips, lessons, and exercises on mindfulness, as well as guided meditations.

On the Internet, you gain access to perks which you may have a hard time finding in the real world. Online courses, especially, have made it possible to learn and obtain new skills even when you are on a budget. This means that you don’t need to worry about anything else—you just need to put in the hours and the effort to improve your qualifications.

Text by RJY