Tuesday, September 4, 2012

How Eating Girl Scout Cookies Helps Kids Learn About Money

Time reports that The Girl Scout Cookie Program has morphed from simple fund raiser into a personal finance tutorial for kids, lending the organization heightened relevance as it celebrates its 100th anniversary this year.

"Learning how to canoe or make a campfire is great stuff," writes reporter Dan Kadlec. "But learning how to set goals and manage money is a far more important life skill, and in recent years the annual cookie drive has emerged primarily as a vehicle for teaching girls about business and finance. What started in 1933 as a bake sale to raise operating funds has turned into a personal finance tutorial."

Last year, in the first overhaul of its merit badge system since 1987, the Girl Scouts introduced a new set of badges for financial literacy. Scouts can earn recognition for:
  • Money management
  • Budgeting
  • Financing their future
  • Good credit
  • Philanthropy
“The last couple years with the economic situation in this country we realized that girls sometimes get a little scared about talking and learning about money,” Anna Maria Chavez, CEO of Girl Scouts of America, said this week on CNBC. “So we wanted to provide a platform where girls can learn it in a fun way.”

This shift—from simple fundraising to financial education tool—has been under way for some time.

"Programs like Girl Scout cookies, which bring in $760 million annually and are the largest girl-led business in the nation, can help fill this void," writes Kadlec. "The girls set goals, meet deadlines, work with others, handle money and make decisions on where and how to reinvest the proceeds. This is the kind of stuff that will help them make smart money decisions as adults."