“Inquiring” into the consumer economy

Since no visit to a metropolitan area is complete without a perusal of its local paper, I recently had the pleasure to read a fist full of editions of Philadelphia’s august paper, The Inquirer. I noted with particular interest two front page articles. On Friday, April 20, the local news section led with Just how far will $35 a week for food stretch? by columnist and Philadelphia blogger, Annette John-Hall and the Sunday April 22 lead article Community College crunch time by staff writer, Rita Giordano.

The similarity of the two articles in one paper regarding citizens in one community emphasizes the fragile nature of our consumer economy and how important it is that our consuming public is financially literate.

Despite what you hear on the radio and see on the TV, there is no single cure, no magic bullet, no simple solution to problems that consumers face every day in our complex world. People must understand their personal financial circumstances and make tough decisions on how they allocate their limited income among many competing demands. There is a universal truth – more and better personal knowledge about how to marshal your assets and budget your expenditures will arm a consumer against many of the assaults our complex economy levels upon them.

I would suggest there is another near universal truth. National Foundation of Credit Counseling certified counselors will provide free in-depth credit counseling to citizens by phone, internet or in person at hundreds of locations throughout the country. After an average one hour session, those consumers will be more knowledgeable about their financial condition and will have more tools to use in dealing with future financial challenges. Not bad for a free one-on-one education session! There is a deal that every consumer can afford!

Chris Honenberger is the former President and CEO of Clearpoint. He has significant experience in law, banking and finance, and executive leadership, and during his time at Clearpoint he guided the agency toward its mission of “consumer health through financial education.”

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