ACE 240: Personal Financial Planning


Paul Stoddard teaching in a classroom setting.

ACE 240 - a winter course all about personal finance

It’s a great way for students to learn how to manage their money throughout their financial lives so they can achieve financial goals for themselves and their families.

  • financial planning process
  • investing in stocks and bonds
  • prudent use of credit
  • auto and housing decisions
  • planning for retirement
  • taxes
  • employee benefits
  • estate planning
  • life/health/property insurance


Register today

Current University of Illinois students

Register for ACE 240 using Student Self-Service.

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Not a current University of Illinois student? No problem!

You can take this course as a non-degree-seeking student

Registration Information

We will see you in December!


Paul Stoddard, Faculty, ACE

Instructor: Paul Stoddard

After studying economics at the University of Illinois, Professor Stoddard had a 30-year career in agricultural real estate, farm management, commodity trading, and agricultural lending. This allowed him to observe the choices and behaviors that help financially successful people get ahead, as well as the pitfalls that can lead to financial problems.

Read more about what Professor Stoddard has to say about ACE 240!

How would you describe your teaching style?
My teaching style is relatively informal and my emphasis is very practical. I want to help students begin to make better financial choices starting immediately and to help them begin to plan their financial future.

How are students evaluated (e.g., multiple choice or essay tests, papers, etc.)?
Students are evaluated based on tests (multiple choice), assignments, and quizzes. The quizzes, which are given throughout the course, give students an incentive to read the textbook and review class material on a regular basis. This reinforces concepts and helps them when it’s time to prepare for an exam.

What careers does this course help prepare students to pursue?
The financial planning industry is in a growth phase now for a variety of reasons. One of these is that baby-boomers are entering retirement; many of them leave the workforce with a significant nest egg of financial resources, and they’re very willing to pay for expert advice on how to manage their wealth. For many students who become financial advisors or wealth managers, ACE 240 is a starting point.

What courses can students take to prepare for this material?
ACE 240 is an introductory-level course, so all students are welcome and will be able to succeed if they do the required work. Students with backgrounds in finance, economics, and business will have had exposure to some of the concepts we talk about, but there are no prerequisites for Personal Financial Planning.

Paul Stoddard, Faculty, ACE

How does this course prepare students to move through the program and/or into the work force?
This material is very valuable for students who go into a variety of business-related careers in finance and other industries. Concepts covered in ACE 240, such as the time value of money, are transferrable to a wide variety of roles in the workforce. And, personal financial planning is an enormously important skill for all students whether or not they go into a related field. The vast majority of our students enter the working world with a good starting salary, and learning to manage money well is quite important.

What is your attendance policy?
Attendance is very important. One of my favorite expressions is, “The world is run by people who show up. Students who think of their time in class as an audition for the work world will gain valuable experience, and attendance is critical in the workplace.