Girl Scouts Earning Badges for Personal-Finance Skills

New badges, inspired by state of economy, promote financial literacy.

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.)

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Anne Kates Smith
Executive Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

Anne Kates Smith brings Wall Street to Main Street, with decades of experience covering investments and personal finance for real people trying to navigate fast-changing markets, preserve financial security or plan for the future. She oversees the magazine's investing coverage,  authors Kiplinger’s biannual stock-market outlooks and writes the "Your Mind and Your Money" column, a take on behavioral finance and how investors can get out of their own way. Smith began her journalism career as a writer and columnist for USA Today. Prior to joining Kiplinger, she was a senior editor at U.S. News & World Report and a contributing columnist for TheStreet. Smith is a graduate of St. John's College in Annapolis, Md., the third-oldest college in America.