Monday, July 20, 2015

Cadette: Budgeting Badge

Our Cadettes worked on the Budgeting badge last year at the beginning of cookie season and it was a real eye opener to say the least. Now, I will say this was not a "fun" badge to earn, but it's one that made them think and it's a life skill everyone needs to have... the sooner, the better!

Practice Budgeting for Values: Create a team values list OR make your own
For this requirement, I had the girls write down a list of 5 things they felt were "needs" and 5 "wants". Then, we discussed them. This was a great discussion, because one of the girls felt a "need" was a car. We talked about how living where we do, a car is a need. At least, it's a convenience and comes in handy... a lot! But, if you were living in a big city with great public transportation, then a car may not be a need. 

After each list, I asked the girls to really evaluate their needs and wants. We discussed how a "need" for one person, may not be for another. We also discussed "need" are different at different times in your life. Right now, it's a need that they have a backpack or something to carry their books in, but later in life that will no longer be something they require. 

Then, we discussed our troop "needs" and "wants". We determined that we have a lot of wants and not so many needs. The girls also realized that they have different needs now than when they were younger Girl Scouts. 

It was a thought provoking discussion and I let them talk and discuss for a while on this. They are becoming wise young ladies and hearing them debate and reach resolutions was fulfilling as a Girl Scout Leader.
Different Ways to Give: Team up with others 
Since this was during cookie season, we discussed how we could use the cookie money and give back. We thought of different charities and groups we could help. At the end, we decided that we wanted to thank the teacher that allowed us to use her room for our meetings with a gift card to a store where she could get supplies she needed. 

Along with this discussion, we talked about different ways to give. We discussed money, services, material items, and time. I had the girls think of specific things for each type and evaluate what they were willing to do. We then discussed why all of the different ways to give are important and why it's important to give back to your community.

Tracking Spending: Track your spending for a week
I gave the girls a sheet to take home with them and told them it was up to them if they wanted to track their spending or their families spending for a week. Part of the activity was to set down with an adult at the end of the week (parent, old sibling, grandparent, someone) and evaluate the spending and think of ways that money could have been saved. 

If you want to use my sheet, you can download it here: Track Your Spending for  Week

Different Ways to Save: Research budgeting online
For my full-time, paid gig, I work for a non-profit that specializes in student loan counseling and financial literacy. We have some great tools and resources on our website, so I utilized those for this portion of the badge. Please, feel free to use them, too. :)

Budget Calculator - online tool
Show Me The Future - online game; requires Flash

Create Budget: Troop Budget
I brought in the troop financial summary reports for the past 3 years and showed how much income the troop had from cookie sales, how much was paid for events, registration, supplies, snacks, etc. I answered any and all questions they had, after all this is THEIR money. They are old enough now to see the financial statements and have a good understanding of how much stuff costs. Yeah, they want to go on these big trips, but are they willing to work for it? 

We then discussed how much a box of cookies sold means for our troop and then related that information to different things we purchase. 
1 special IP badge they want to do is $1.50... that's 3 boxes of cookies each. For 7 girls, that's 21 boxes of cookies. 
1 event is typically about $5/girl x 7 girls... that's 64 boxes of cookies 
1 meeting snack averages $8 x 2 meetings a month x 9 months of meetings... 262 boxes of cookies... (and this is when they decided they would start bringing their own snacks)
So, then we discussed how much was in the account... how money was spent... what they wanted to do with this year's cookie money. 

We came up with a very rough draft form of a budget  and talked about each item they agreed to do or not do. We discussed when to use troop money, when not to use troop money, and what they felt a good long term goal would be for the group. 

Like I said, this was a discussion heavy badge. But, it's a life skill that they need to learn. I was shocked how little they knew about budgeting, though it doesn't surprise me too much when you think of the way our society spends. There are some that are trying to be good stewards, but do they discuss it with their children? How else will they learn and hopefully not fall victim to the same pitfalls.  


  1. I am going to have to save this for next year in cadettes! I really had avoided a lot of the finance badges in our troop because it seemed so cookie focused. This may be an exception!

  2. i gave my girls check registers and they now keep a ledger of our troop funds. they are learning where to write each check and deposit.



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