For a 9-year-old, Laurel Petrides knows a lot about finances -- for example, the decision-making process that should take place before a purchase and the buyer’s remorse that can happen when that process is circumvented. Laurel is a Junior Girl Scout, and she’s polishing her skills in pursuit of a Savvy Shopper badge -- one of 13 new financial-literacy badges introduced last fall by the Girl Scouts of the USA. The financial-literacy badge program spans all age groups, from Daisy (kindergarten and first grade) to Ambassador (11th and 12th grade), and covers everything from philanthropy, comparison-shopping and starting a business to how credit cards and bank loans work -- including how to understand a credit score.
Inspiration for the new badges came from the state of the global economy and the money worries expressed by scouts, says Eileen Doyle, vice-president of programs. "There was a lot of interest on the part of the girls in how to have the money for the things they need to do in life." With no uniform financial-literacy program in schools, she says, "we decided to step up to the plate." (For more on financial education, read MONEY-SMART KIDS: Does Financial Education Work? and PRACTICAL ECONOMICS: Teaching Savings to Kids in Schools.)
The take-away for Laurel, so far: "If you spend on something you want first, then you might not have enough for what you need."