Essential Consumer Math Concepts

Mother going through bills with daughter

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Consumer math is the study of the basic mathematics concepts that are used in daily life. It is teaching the real-world applications of math to students. The following are the key topics that any consumer math course should include in its basic curriculum in order to ensure that students are prepared for the future.

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Budgeting Money

In order to avoid debt and worse, students need to understand how to set up a monthly budget that they can follow. At some point after graduation, students will move out on their own. They will need to understand that out of any money they earn, required bills come out first, then food, then savings, and then with whatever money is left, entertainment. A common mistake for newly independent individuals is to spend their entire paycheck without considering what bills are due before the next one.

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Spending Money

Another skill that many students need to understand is how to make educated spending choices. What methods are there for comparison shopping? How can you determine whether the 12 pack of sodas or the 2-liters are a more economical choice? When is the best time to buy different products? Are coupons worth it? How can you easily determine things like tips at restaurants and sale prices in your head? These are learned skills that rely on a basic understanding of mathematics and a dose of common sense.

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Using Credit

Credit can be a great thing or terrible thing that can also lead to heartbreak and bankruptcy. The proper understanding and use of credit is a key skill that students need to master. The basic idea of how APRs work is an essential fact that students need to learn. In addition, students should learn about how credit ratings from companies like Equifax work.

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Investing Money

According to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, 64 percent of Americans do not have enough money in savings to cover a $1,000 financial emergency. Students need to be taught the importance of regular savings. Students should also have an understanding of simple versus compound interest. The curriculum should include an in-depth look at different investments including their pros and cons so that students understand what is available to them.

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Paying Taxes

Taxes are a reality that students need to grasp. Further, they need practice working with tax forms. They need to understand how the progressive income tax works. They also need to learn how local, state, and national taxes all interact and affect the student's bottom line.

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Travel and Money Skills

If students travel outside of the country, they need to understand the mechanics of foreign exchange. The curriculum should not only include how to convert money between currencies but also how to determine the best place to make currency exchanges.

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Avoiding Fraud

Financial fraud is something that all people need to protect themselves from. It comes in many forms. Online fraud is especially scary and becoming more widespread every year. Students need to be taught about the different types of fraud that they might encounter, ways to spot this activity, and how to best protect themselves and their assets.

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Understanding Insurance

Health insurance. Life insurance. Auto insurance. Renters or home insurance. Students will be faced with buying one or more of these soon after leaving school. Understanding how they work is important. They should learn about the costs and benefits of insurance. They should also understand the best ways to shop for insurance that truly protects their interests.

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Understanding Mortgages

Mortgages are complicated, especially for many new homebuyers. For one thing, there are many new terms that students need to learn. They also need to learn about the different types of mortgages that are available and the pros and cons for each. Students need to understand their pros and cons in order to make the best decisions possible with their money.

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Your Citation
Kelly, Melissa. "Essential Consumer Math Concepts." ThoughtCo, Jul. 29, 2021, Kelly, Melissa. (2021, July 29). Essential Consumer Math Concepts. Retrieved from Kelly, Melissa. "Essential Consumer Math Concepts." ThoughtCo. (accessed December 6, 2022).