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What is Consumer Education?

By G. Wiesen
Updated May 17, 2024
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Consumer education is a form of education that focuses on instructing consumers, or the general public, in numerous financial matters. These matters are those that would be of interest to consumers and better enable people to make informed and intelligent decisions with regard to various fiduciary matters. This can include understanding various business models, marketing techniques, credit management, budgeting for living, and professional business practices. Consumer education has become increasingly common and seen as quite important for many people, especially teenagers who will be dealing with these types of issues once living on their own.

As a form of financial education, consumer education is truly an interdisciplinary field of study that seeks to merge economic theory and practices with financial understanding and practical advice for living. Rather than focusing on various aspects of business in ways that would be beneficial for those who may seek to become managers or owners of a business, this type of education is targeted at those who utilize the goods and services provided by business. The basic idea behind consumer education is that an informed and savvy consumer is more likely to make choices that are best for him or her, as well as beneficial for the economy in general.

One of the oldest sayings in business is caveat emptor, which has often been translated as “let the buyer beware.” In other words, it is often seen as the responsibility of the person purchasing a product or service to ensure he or she is making an intelligent decision. Consumer education seeks to ensure that someone has the opportunity to learn what is needed to make this type of decision, and to be cautious as a consumer. Students in consumer education learn about how businesses advertise and appeal to them, so that they can see through the advertisement and understand the merits of the product itself.

Consumer education also focuses on personal finances and responsibility in handling money. This has increasingly focused on the use of credit and credit cards, and the kinds of purchases a person should be making to live responsibly. Students in consumer education are also taught how to properly budget themselves and manage their finances on a daily basis. This is often seen as important for the present, to ensure someone is able to pay his or her bills, and the future, for investments a person can make toward a more comfortable retirement.

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Discussion Comments
By Crispety — On Jul 04, 2011

@GreenWeaver - I agree with you. I think that a lot of these consumer counseling and foreclosure relief programs want consumers to pay upfront which should be a huge red flag. There are legitimate companies in this field but they are tainted with a poor image because so many people have been taken advantage of.

I think that anytime that you are asked to give money to an organization upfront without receiving anything is too risky. For example, there are a lot of people that prey on people seeking work at home jobs. There are many tempting offers that say that you will make $75 dollars an hour to assemble products or to mystery shop.

Mystery shopping is a legitimate industry, but you should never pay anything to get started in this business. There are hundreds of mystery shopping companies that out there and all you have to do is sign up with them and it is free.

They will email you when opportunities arise in your area along with the details of the assignment. You can decide if it is something that you will want to do or not. The best thing to do is research and never pay upfront for anything.

I think that the only exception involves the direct sales business which requires you to buy the start up kit to get started, but you should still talk to people selling those products to see how the compensation structure is and make sure that it is a legitimate company.

Companies associated with the Direct Selling Association are your best bet.

By GreenWeaver — On Jul 03, 2011

@surfnturf - I agree with you, and I also think that you have to research debt relief programs and make sure that these credit counseling services are legitimate. There have been scores of people that have been scammed by con artists that acted like they were in a legitimate debt relief program business.

The consumer can actually settle the credit card accounts themselves. I was listening to a financial advisor the other day and he was saying that many credit card companies will settle with the card holder, but they have to make sure that they get that settlement offer in writing.

He also cautions not to let any of these companies have access to your bank account. He says that a lot of times these companies will want to draft the money that you settled for directly from your account, but he suggests that you send a cashier’s check once you get the offer in writing because there have been times when a company will agree to something verbally only to take it back later and then you have no protection.

By surfNturf — On Jul 02, 2011

I wanted to say that I do think that it is up to the consumer to stay informed of products or services that they are interested in purchasing. I also think that it is a responsibility of the government and law enforcement to inform us of fraudulent businesses and faulty products.

Sometimes you may buy a product for a business that does not work as promised and you do get the run around when trying to get your money back. The Better Business Bureau does offer information on complaints against the company, but many companies do not have any data and just pay the membership fee to be a member.

So just because a company says that they are a member of the Better Business Bureau does not mean that you should not investigate them further. A lot of consumer review sites offer feedback from previous consumers and it is worth looking at.

I was going to go to this amusement venue with my children, until I read the horrible reviews on this local consumer review site. They said that the arcade games were none functioning and the facility was falling apart from the lack of maintenance. I am so glad websites like this exist because it saved me a lot of time and money.

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