Welcome!

Established in 2003 as the Consumer Federation of the Southeast, the organization performed a wide range of consumer education and advocacy efforts.  The consumer advocacy agenda was built upon raising public awareness, educating consumers and coalition-building with other entities engaged in similar work.  Reorganized as the Consumer Institute in 2017, we will focus our efforts on providing consumer financial education.

Important financial decisions confront individuals every day.  Often, these issues create confusion and stress in families. The Consumer Institute will offer tools to help families handle decisions concerning personal finance and the economy.  Our goal is to provide individuals with the tools they need to take responsibility for their financial health and to achieve financial well-being.

New program on the horizon!

Stay tuned for updates about a new offering from Consumer Institute:  Bank On Big Bend

Bank On coalitions are locally-led partnerships between local public officials; city, state, and federal government agencies; financial institutions; and community organizations that work together to help improve the financial stability of unbanked and underbanked individuals and families in their communities.

You look like you’re ready to save!

America Saves Week was February 27 – March 4

Here’s a recap of our daily valuable information:

Monday, February 27: Save Automatically!  Learn More . . .

Tuesday, February 28: Family Savings Day! Good savings behaviors start at home

Wednesday, March 1: Retirement Savings

Thursday, March 2: Saving at Tax Time

Friday, March 3: Pay Off High Interest Debt

Recommended Reading:

The Rotten Deal:

Managed Mutual Funds and Retirement Income

This paper by David W. Rasmussen, James H. Gapinski Professor of Economics, Associate at the Pepper Institute on Aging and Public Policy and Affiliate of the  L. Charles Hilton Center at Florida State University, takes an important look at retirement investments.  There is a substantial literature in finance that documents the fact that managed mutual funds tend to provide a lower rate of return than low fee index funds.  Given that 70 percent of the $13.7 trillion invested in mutual funds are in managed funds, this allocation of savings compromises the financial well-being of U.S. households.  Investment decisions of households is compromised by low levels of financial literacy, deceptive advertising, and self-interested advisers who steer investors into the high cost managed funds.  Readers will be alerted to these practices and learn basic economic literacy to make sound decisions.

See a presentation of this paper at the

Florida Prosperity Partnership Statewide

Conference in Orlando on May 31. 

Details here.

Consumer Institute launches Big Bend Saves in 2017!   All over America, people just like you are proving that you don’t have to be rich to build wealth. As members of America Saves, they are paying off their debts and saving to reach their financial goals. These tips and tools can help you set goals, develop strategies to reach those goals, and start saving. So what are you waiting for? Take financial action in your life! “Start small, think big” and make your dreams a reality!  Click here to learn how you can take the America Saves pledge.

Consumer Institute applauds Consumer Federation of America and The National Cyber Security Alliance.  Their program to encourage consumers to use stronger methods of authentication to access their important online accounts provides critical information.     Click here to learn more.

Insurance fraud hurts everyone . . .

Here’s why you should care . . .

National Cyber Security Alliance Reminds Consumers to Value and Protect Their Personal Information

January 28 is Data Privacy Day.  Many consumers do not fully understand how their information is collected, used and stored by the devices, apps and websites they use every day. According to a recent Pew Research Center study, 91 percent of American adults “agree” or “strongly agree” that consumers have lost control of how personal information is collected and used by companies. Additionally, 50 percent are worried about the amount of personal information about them online, while 47 percent said they were not confident they understood what would be done with their data once it was collected.

Consumers should become informed about this critical topic.  Click here to learn how.