Consumer Management

4H'ers shopping

Are You Into It?

Use the Consumer Management project to get more bang for your buck! Find out how to use your money to get the things you want.

  • Identify needs and wants, and how you spend your money on each.
  • Make informed consumer decisions to reach your goals and to solve problems.
  • Know your rights as a shopper.

Here’s what you can do all year!


Starting Out Basic / Level 1

  • Set a budget, make a list, and go shopping
  • Make a list of your needs and your wants, and write down how you spend your money on each
  • Compare costs of similar products: different stores, or generic/name-brand, or homemade/purchased, new/used
  • Develop a savings plan to save for an item that you want to buy

Learning More Intermediate / Level 2

  • Set goals to spend your money wisely
  • Learn why you decide to buy what you do -advertising, peers, needs, priorities, and interests
  • Identify the benefits of different savings account options
  • Identify and make ethical decisions in earning and spending your money
  • Compare return policies of different vendors—stores and on-line.

Expanding Horizons Advanced / Level 3

  • Set saving, spending, and sharing goals for your money
  • Identify the true cost of different kinds of credit.
  • Develop a plan for the future – college, car, independent living
  • Learn about consumer rights and how to use them effectively
  • Compare warranty policies on different brands/stores for similar items

Take It Further

Consumer Management Hot Sheet  (color pdf)
Poster Exhibits Tip Sheet (color pdf)
Exhibitor Fair Information Form (Word or editable PDF)
Exhibit Evaluation Form (pdf)
Here are other opportunities to explore Consumer Management:

  • Job-shadow at a local business in a career that interests you.
  • Visit a local bank and learn about savings & credit opportunities.
  • Complete "This is the Way I Spend My Money" for at least 6 months and decide whether you are a savvy consumer.
  • Help your club manage their resources by running for Club Treasurer.
  • Organize a prom dress re-sale or exchange program in your community or school; or organize a food or clothing pantry to benefit local residents.
  • Visit a local used clothing store and learn how they evaluate and price their merchandise.
  • Is it fair time? Consider taking an exhibit, a piece of your project learning to the fair for judging and to show off what you have learned throughout the year. It might get selected to go to the Iowa State Fair.
  • Contact your County Extension office for other local workshops, activities, and events.
  • Attend Iowa 4-H Youth Conference and participate in workshops, motivational speakers and a community service project, bringing ideas back to your community.
  • Interested in a college education in the area of business or agricultural business? Schedule a visit with Iowa State University.
  • Iowa 4-H Center
  • Make a list of things you'd like to have over the next year and write down why these items are important to you and your plan to purchase them.
  • Make a cost comparison to decide which size of item is better option for you or your family.  Compare total cost, size, price per unit, on sale or not and if quality or value is acceptable for your family.
  • Use interest formula P x R x T = I to determine how much buying a car on time would  cost compared to paying outright.
  • Come up with a list of things to consider when you're searching the web in order to make an online purchase.
  • Calculate the true costs of owning a car.  Consider maintenance, financing, warranty, insurance, licensing and other necessary factors.
  • Figure out the cost of using a credit card for purchase.  Some cards charge as much as 18% interest.  What are the advantages and disadvantages of using credit for a purchase?

Step It Up


  • Design a poster comparing similar products
  • Do a presentation about advertising techniques
  • Talk to a group about different internet shopping sites and the value or concerns with those


  • Complete a Service-Learning project
  • Give a portion of your money to a cause that you believe in
  • Volunteer to help manage money at a fundraiser
  • Go to a senior center and teach adults about safe online shopping


  • Help your family identify needs and wants
  • Serve as the treasurer of a group
  • Organize a fundraiser for a cause you believe in

Exhibit Ideas

  • Compare the price of similar pieces of clothing (jeans for example) at a variety of places
  • What happens to clothes donated to Goodwill if they don't sell
  • Track your spending for a month and see where your money goes
  • Track your spending related to a 4-H project (livestock, photography, clothing, pets)
  • Track how you spend another of your resources, TIME
  • Compare colleges, trade schools etc.
  • Explore advertised products with various target audiences (examples include children’s programs, prime time, sporting events)
  • Describe the cost of fraud (shoplifting, bad check, etc.)
  • Describe potential problems related to privacy issues (social security numbers, credit cards, internet shopping etc.)
  • Identify agencies that assist in resolving consumer complaints
  • Investigate where products are manufactured
  • Compare TV & radio ads to print ads
  • Prepare a product complaint letter
  • Decision making when purchasing an expensive product
  • Compare a rpoduct in name brand, generic brand and homemade brand (if possible).  Is name brand worth the cost?
  • Show your clothing consumer skills by taking an inventory of your wardrobe and decide what new pieces are needed and make a plan to purchase them.
  • Compare the cost of an outfit from a name brand store and thrift or consignment store.  What are the benefits to shopping at a thrift store?
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