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13 New Girl Scout Badges Reward Money Smarts

13 New Girl Scout Badges Reward Money Smarts
Alison Storm

There's no doubt that the Girl Scouts know their way around a cookie. Just as our New Year's resolutions start to take a back burner, those cute young ladies in their matching outfits start knocking on our front doors or soliciting us outside our neighborhood grocery store. They're peddling colorful boxes of American history—a history that began 95 years ago with a troupe in Muskogee, Oklahoma. Business success is nothing new for the Girl Scouts, who generate around $700 million in annual sales, but now, thanks to some new financially-focused badges, members are getting rewarded for more than peddling Thin Mints and Trefoils.

Cookie Sales Skyrocketgirl scout cookies box

Each year since 1999 Girl Scout cookie sales have topped $700 million. Young women across the country turn into a powerful sales team, hawking roughly 200 million boxes. The most popular by far is the Thin Mint, which makes up roughly one in four boxes sold. Samoas (also known as Caramel deLites) come in second with 19 percent of sales. Each box costs about $3.50 or $4. But while the Girl Scouts were taking on this financial task with excellence, officials felt they could be doing more to educate the young women of tomorrow.

Financial Crisis Leads to Emphasis on Financial Literacy

Girl Scout leaders highlight  a 2010 Time magazine article announcing  a concern by a growing number of researchers and educators that financial education needs to start much earlier. The general consensus among experts is that high school is too late—money and spending decisions should fall on children at a much younger age. This prompted Girl Scout officials to put much more emphasis on financial literacy with the creation of 13 new money-minded badges developed by an advisory panel. The advisory panel consisted of representatives from global financial institutions and non-profits as well as representatives from government agencies including the Small Business Administration, the Federal Reserve Board and the FDIC.

Earning a Financial Literacy Badge

Girls as young as kindergarteners can start their money lessons. Financial literacy badges are progressive. That means that each year girls can build on the skills they've learned in the past. Here's a look at the 13 new badges, and the lessons girls learn earning them:

FINANCIAL LITERACY BADGES

Badge What Girls Learn What It Means
DAISY: Money Counts Money basics — recognizing different coins and bills and knowing what they’re worth When girls begin to recognize coins and bills for their value they are doing more than collecting with their piggy banks, they are saving. Family discussions of what is affordable become all the more meaningful when girls have a sense of what money is – not just that something is “too expensive.”
DAISY: Making Choices The difference between needs and want, how to save for something they want and how to help others with what they need Learning the difference between needs and wants at an early age gives girls a head start on managing money responsibly.
BROWNIE: Money Manager How much common items cost and how to make change Young girls have few occasions to really see what money does, and how it is used. More often than not, parents pay by credit card or even online. Girls gain an understanding of how they and their families use money day-to-day.
BROWNIE: Philanthropist Philanthropy basics, including how to help others by giving money, items or time Girls develop a great sense of empowerment when they learn that one way they can make a difference in the world is through giving at any level.
JUNIOR: Business Owner The basics of running a business — coming up with a business idea, offering great customer service, and doing consumer research A Junior Achievement poll showed that 68.6% of teens want to be entrepreneurs. Girl Scout Juniors can get a head start by learning what’s involved in running a business.
JUNIOR: Savvy Shopper An advanced look at “needs vs. wants” that includes figuring out what triggers their “wants” and making a savings plan Girls will know how to resist the lure of fancy packaging, sophisticated ads or wanting to wear the latest trend, to save their hard-earned allowance for something they really want and need.
CADETTE: Budgeting How to create a budget that reflects their values Middle school girls learn that how they use their money – from their spending habits to their savings goals to their support for causes they are passionate about – reflects their values.
CADETTE: Comparison Shopping How to be a safe and savvy online shopper Girls are digital natives and spend loads of time online, chatting, surfing and shopping. That’s why it’s more important than ever for them to be able to navigate sites in safe, secure and financially savvy ways.
CADETTE: Financing My Dreams How to finance their big dreams for the future Girls have big dreams about everything from the career they want, to fabulous world travel, to the home they’d love to live in some day. Girls get a reality check when they realize how much their dreams cost and what they have to do to achieve them.
SENIOR: Financing My Future How to plan for their educational future, which includes researching ways to pay for it In tough economic times, just the thought of the cost of a college education can be scary to girls and their families. But, knowledge is power when girls learn how to get the education they want without going into years of debt.
SENIOR: Buying Power How to make a big purchase that requires an ongoing financial commitment (i.e., car payments, monthly cell phone charges, etc.) Instead of asking their parents to foot their monthly bills, high school freshmen and sophomores set goals, develop budgets and make informed decisions and extended financial plans for that first phone or even first car.
AMBASSADOR: On My Own How to create a “future budget” to determine the costs of living on their own High school juniors and seniors will be better able to handle life after high school after taking a realistic look at what it will cost.
AMBASSADOR: Good Credit How to establish good credit and compare different ways to borrow money If girls know now how important good credit is, they’ll be able to resist the lure of “too good to be true” credit card or loan offers, and set a strong financial foundation for their future.

Badges Promote Young Entrepreneursgirl scout badges

In addition to learning about budgeting, giving and saving, Girl Scouts can also learn lessons that will help them become great entrepreneurs. It's something that's been a part of Girl Scouts for decades with cookie sales, but now the lessons are expanding to help young women become innovative thinkers. According to the Girl Scouts, that's the number one trait that employers say is needed in the 21st century so by earning new innovation badges, girls can be inspired and encouraged to invent, design and create, lessons leaders hope will translate into success as adults.

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