Choices and challenges: Consumer Savvy curriculum helps youth be wise and ethical consumers

Consumer Savvy curriculum provides hands-on activities to help youth make good ethical consumer decisions.

A young person shopping and holding an item to look at it closer.

Consumer Savvy is a set of National 4-H curriculum that can be digitally downloaded. It has three levels that teach youth about being a good consumer. In each of the three workbooks, youth may work individually or in a youth group or 4-H club. There is also a helper’s guide that shares information on learning by doing, ages and stages of youth and developing life skills. Each workbook has plenty of information regarding being a savvy consumer with lots of activities to get youth thinking about what types of decisions they would and should make.

Consumer Wise, the level two workbook, deals with ethics and values, advertising, and being a safe and smart shopper. Ethics and values are important when it comes to learning about being consumer savvy. Values affect our decisions and actions. Our values determine what we do or buy, what goals we set and how we reach those goals. Ethical decisions are how we behave. Whether it is right or wrong, good and proper, the choices we make will have implications or outcomes that can be negative or positive based on the decision made.

For example, we know stealing is wrong, but we might be tempted to steal anyway if it is important we have a certain item, the opportunity presents itself and the chances are we won’t get caught. The curriculum helps youth begin thinking about ethical decisions by providing realistic scenarios such as the two below that may not always so straightforward.

  • At the store, you have selected an outfit you need for an upcoming interview. You really want to look your best. You notice a similar piece of clothing on the sale rack with a cheaper price, so you are thinking about switching price tags.
  • At the cash register, the clerk gives you a sale discount on an item that is not on sale.

Making ethical decisions are based on our values. Once they understand how values and ethics affect their purchases, youth will become more confident in being consumer wise shoppers. The curriculum provides questions for discussion as youth think about each scenario and how they would act in that situation. The discussion questions focus on doing the right thing, what is an ethical decision and would the decision harm anyone.

In the next two articles, we will look how Consumer Savvy approaches the topics of marketing and being a safe and smart shopper.

MSU Extension and Michigan 4-H Youth Development help to prepare young people for successful futures. As a result of career exploration and workforce preparation activities, thousands of Michigan youth are better equipped to make important decisions about their professional future, ready to contribute to the workforce and able to take fiscal responsibility in their personal lives. For more information or resources on career exploration, workforce preparation, financial education, or entrepreneurship, contact

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