Document Type


Date of Original Version



Human Development and Family Studies


Purpose: The purpose of this literature review paper is to define consumer finance, describe the scope of consumer finance and discuss its future research directions.

Design/methodology/approach: In this paper, consumer finance is used as a synonym of household finance. Consumers refer to individuals and families. After defining the term “consumer finance,” we conducted a critical review of consumer finance as an interdisciplinary research field in terms of money managing, insuring, borrowing and saving/investing. Future research directions are also discussed.

Findings: This paper discusses similarities and differences among several terms such as consumer finance, household finance, personal finance, family finance and behavioral finance. The paper also reviewed key studies on consumer financial behavior around four key financial functions, namely, money management, insurance, loan and saving/investment and several nontraditional topics such as fintech and financial capability/literacy. The paper also introduced several datasets of consumer finance commonly used in the United States and China.

Originality/Value: This paper clarified several similar terms related to consumer finance and sorted out the diverse literature of consumer finance in multiple disciplines such as economics, finance and consumer science, which provide a foundation for generating more fruitful research in consumer finance in the future.