From childhood allowances to grown-up paychecks, your girls will encounter money everywhere they go. That’s why in Girl Scouts, we aim to teach girls the value of money early-on, so they know how to handle their finances in the future. And with the start of the Girl Scout Cookie season, there’s no time like the present to teach your girls about money! By participating in Product Programs, girls learn a variety of priceless money management skills, from counting money and making change to creating budgets and tracking funds.
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With your help, your girls can be rich with knowledge, but since talking to young people about money can be rough, try out these handy tips and activities to help make cents of the information (and avoid sounding like an investment banking lecture). If your girls need a little extra motivation, try providing them with some practical incentives, like badges. Each level has at least two badges for both the Cookie Business and the Financial Literacy categories, so try and use these activities in a way that helps them earn their badges as they learn.
1. Sharpen their mental math skills with the change-counting game
After 13 years of cookie booth sales, trust me when I say, that most customers will not have exact change. Luckily, all of GSNorCal’s cookies cost either $5 or $6, so making change is easy as long as they have plenty of small bills! For a quick and dynamic game that helps sharpen their math skills, have your girls use these dainty dice templates to propose customer orders, mixing up the possible cookie and money combinations. For example, if the Cookie Dice comes up “1 Samoas” and the Money Dice comes up “$10”, then your girls would provide the customer with $5 change for the $5 box of Samoas.
Making change on the spot can be hard, so if you have younger girls who might need a little help at their booth have them fill-in a cheat sheet, like the one on pg. 2 of the change-counting game, or make this cute “Wise Owl” change tree cup (PDF).
2. Practice with real money (or at least pretend Cookie Money)
Like most things, practice makes perfect, even when it comes to handling money and making change. For girls who need a little extra confidence, this role-play activity is a great way to practice both money handling and customer service skills without the real-world pressure of customers. Build off of the sales pitch game and set-up an imaginary booth sale, allowing the girls to take turns acting as the “seller” and the “customer”. Provide your girls with a variety of scenarios so they can see the wide range of customer interactions and money exchanges that may occur at their booth sale. In addition to cash payments, don’t forget to have your girls practice using a card reader if your troop plans to accept credit cards.
For a convenient checklist and more booth sale tips, check out GSNorCal’s Booth Sales & Etiquette!
3. Plan a field trip or event to celebrate the end of the Cookie Program
As your girls grow up and become more independent, they’ll realize that most fun adventures also come with a price tag. Have your girls pick a field trip or event to celebrate the end of the cookie program, but make sure they know the price! Whether your girls are considering a fun day at an amusement park or an overnight council-run program, have your girls research the costs and create a plan. With the budget in mind, have your girls set cookie sale goals in order to raise money for their trip. After your girls enjoy a trip that they worked to fund, they’ll have a stronger sense and appreciation for their hard-earned money.
Need more field trip ideas? Take a peek at GSNorCal’s Activity Finder for plenty of other events and programs that your girls can fund with their Cookie earnings!
4. Do some comparison shopping
With the power of online shopping, comparing prices is as easy as clicking a button, so teach your girls about the importance of bargain hunting and transform them into savvy shoppers. Select a variety of items (anything from household goods they need to the latest toy they want) and have your girls find the least expensive price for each item. With their parents’ permission, have your girls search websites like Amazon or Target to find the best deal. If you don’t want your girls using the Internet, bring in weekly ads for popular local stores and have girls compare prices that way. Whether she’s buying something she needs or something she wants, at least she’ll learn how to get the best value for her dollar!
Don’t forget to tell them about Amazon Smile—once they select “Girl Scouts of Northern California” as their charity of choice, Amazon will donate a portion of their purchase back to our council!
5. Start a business and let them manage their own money
Even if none of your girls plan on becoming hotshot CEOs, they can still become personal finance experts. Inspire your girls to become entrepreneurs and turn an enjoyable hobby into a thriving business. Have your girls do some research and contact local business owners to learn more about the basics of running a business. Once your girls have some working knowledge of the business world, have them create their own business plans. Whether they want to sell homemade bracelets or run their own babysitting service, make sure your girls consider all the potential needs of their business, such as the costs of supplies, employees, and workspace. To get them started, ask your girls questions like, “How much money would you need to start?”, “Will you need to take out loans?”, “How much will you charge for your good/service?” and “How much would you pay your employees?”
To learn more about starting and managing a business, check out the Small Business Administration’s awesome resources!
Remember, money matters and your girls are counting on you to help them learn how to handle their money! Want more information regarding booth sales, credit cards, and money management? Check out GSNorCal’s Volunteer Learning Portal for helpful resources and trainings.
Leah Takahashi—Leah is the Digital Marketing Specialist for Girl Scouts of Northern California, where she creates content, plans blog posts, and promotes all things Girl Scouts in all formats digital. Leah joined Girl Scouts at the age of 5 and has been a part of the organization ever since (shout out to Troop 31213 – woot woot). During her younger Girl Scout days, Leah did everything from selling thousands of Girl Scout Cookies to serving as a National Delegate at the 2011 Convention and even earning her Gold Award in 2012. She may be young, but she’s got plenty of Girl Scout experience under her belt and is excited to share it with you!