Money is a stressful subject at the best of times, and only more so now in these worst of times. With unemployment at levels unseen since the Great Depression and entire industries in limbo, financial uncertainty is now the norm for millions of households.
If the pandemic has you trying to overhaul your budget or beef up your emergency savings — or if you’re simply trying to get a better handle on what on earth is happening to the markets — there are plenty of podcasts offering guidance. Many long-running shows offer up-to-the-minute advice on personal finance, while others dig into first-person stories of money trouble or endeavor to make economics more fun.
These seven shows will help you weather the financial storm with your sanity intact, and keep your bottom line in good shape long into the future.
Inspiring though it can be to hear financial experts talk about building their fortunes, it can also feel alienating if you’re saddled with debt, struggling to make ends meet or simply intimidated by money. Enter Gaby Dunn, the very funny, very relatable host of “Bad With Money,” who spent many years in a financial hole and now shares wry advice on how to turn things around. As a queer millennial, Dunn is highly attuned to, and refreshingly blunt, about structural injustices of the financial system, whether it’s the student loan industry or health insurance maze. Enjoyable though Dunn’s interviews with experts and celebrity guests are, the real highlights of the show are her candid personal money confessions. At one point Dunn records herself making long-put-off calls to her bank and student loan provider, and in doing so explores the combination of shame and powerlessness that keeps many people from taking simple money steps.
Starter episode: “Myths and Grossly Inaccurate Labels (aka ‘Millennials’)”
This wisdom-packed, endearingly quirky show is one of the very best resources out there for those who don’t work a 9-to-5 shift, but aren’t high-rolling entrepreneurs either. The host, Lillian Karabaic, tailors her friendly, useful advice to artists, freelancers and small-business owners. Along with traditional explainers on how to pick a marketplace health plan or save for retirement if you don’t have access to a traditional 401(k) plan, there are episodes on meal prepping, credit card rewards for travel and other thrifty day-to-day hacks.
Starter episode: “How much should you keep in an emergency fund?”
Many of us grew up with the sense that money is a subject best avoided in polite company, but that culture of silence can be damaging both to our finances and to our psychology. This engrossing interview series from WNYC Studios prides itself on speaking the unspeakable, digging into “the things we think about a lot, and need to talk about more.” Anna Sale, the host, has a disarmingly gentle and thoughtful approach, which never fails to draw candid insights from her guests. The show’s coronavirus coverage has been characteristically compassionate and incisive; it has released a “Pandemic Tool Kit” and a Covid-19 call-in show titled “Alone Together” that’s guaranteed to make you feel less isolated.
Starter episode: “A Former Debt Collector’s Unpaid Bills”
There are few subjects less approachable to the average person than economics, and yet the average person has probably never had more reason to be curious about the state of the economy than now. For years, NPR’s trusty “Planet Money” has been explaining the economy through engaging stories about people, places and trends. Expect a balance of deep dives into complex processes — like the 2016 four-parter in which the hosts Stacey Vanek Smith and Robert Smith bought 100 barrels of oil and followed them from the earth to the gas tank — and entertaining answers to questions you’d never thought to ask, like “Why is the milk always at the back of the grocery store?”
Starter episode: “We Buy Oil”
One of the oldest and most respected personal finance shows out there, this thrice-weekly podcast is a one-stop shop to find the answer to just about any money question. Farnoosh Torabi is an author and finance expert whose most recent book was “When She Makes More,” an exploration of the gender dynamics of money in relationships. On the show, she offers snapshots of her own financial life in between interviews with a variety of guests — from actresses like Busy Philipps to fellow finance experts like Suze Orman — and answers listener enquiries with a clear, no-nonsense approach.
Starter episode: “Ask Farnoosh: How to pay off debt while saving and paying bills?”
Between the gender gap in both income and investing, and outdated social messages about “frivolous” female spending, women have long been underserved by traditional financial advice, but this iHeartRadio show flips the script. A relatively new offering with just one 16-episode season, “She Makes Money Moves” focuses on first-person stories from women in disparate regions and walks of life. Hosted by Glamour’s editor in chief, Samantha Barry, the show tackles subjects like budgeting as a single mother and the challenges facing female business owners. But several memorable episodes explore the dynamics of money in relationships, and specifically the toll that an income gap takes on friends or romantic partners.
Starter episode: “I Love My Life — But I Can’t Afford It”:
If the idea of following a line-item budget makes you wince, Paula Pant’s approach is worth exploring. The title of Pant’s podcast comes from her philosophy that you can afford anything, just not everything, and her approach to budgeting focuses more on big picture changes than on tracking every expense. On each episode of the show, Pant tackles familiar personal finance subjects — eliminating debt, emphasizing savings, leaving your 9-to-5 behind — in a breezy conversational style that feels accessible even to money novices. In recent weeks a new segment, “PSA Thursdays,” has offered tips on how to navigate the specific financial chaos of the pandemic, illuminated by Pant’s own candid and fascinating discussion of contracting Covid-19.