Parents

How to Teach Girls Financial Literacy (Outside of Girl Scouts!)

Negotiating pay, budgeting, saving for retirement — these are all things your girl will have to do in her lifetime. But just because she doesn’t deal with these things right now doesn’t mean she can’t improve her financial literacy in the mean time!

At Girl Scouts, we help girls become entrepreneurs and run their own business during the Girl Scout Cookie Program. They’re learning five essential skills: goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills, and business ethics!

And you know what’s awesome? Your girl can learn more about financial literacy right at home! Not sure where to begin? We’ve got some suggestions for you.

1. Give her an allowance.

Allowances can be a topic of much debate among parents. At Girl Scouts, we see the value in enabling your girl to make her own financial decisions — before she’s able to legally make money on her own.

When she receives an allowance, your girl is beginning her journey to financial independence. And yes, this can begin with mistakes. But when she decides to save $1 for the game she’s been eyeing instead of spending it on a candy bar, she’s learning the value of saving money over instant gratification.

Plus, when she saves up and uses her own money to buy something, she’s going to value it a lot more than if someone simply gave it to her when she asked.

So, how much of an allowance should she be getting? That’s up to your family (and your family’s budget). If you’re not sure where to start, consider giving her a weekly allowance of 50 cents or $1, multiplied by her age (so, a 10-year-old would receive $5 or $10 per week) or her grade level (so, a 5th grader would receive $2.50 or $5 per week).

If you’re still not seeing the value of an allowance, check out this article with insight from Girl Scouts Developmental Psychologist Andrea Bastiani Archiblad!

2. Set up Spend / Give / Save jars with her.

Once she has an allowance set up (or really any other type of income), the next step should be teaching your girl how much she should be spending, saving, and giving to charity! A fun way to do this is with Spend / Give / Save jars. Keep them in a safe space in the house, and let her decorate them to her heart’s content!

How much should she be putting in each jar? That’s for the two of you to decide together! Maybe an even 1/3 goes in each jar, or maybe she wants to donate half of her allowance each week. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s girl-led!

Next, make sure you work out when she can withdraw money from each jar. Does she get to use her Spend money whenever she wants? Is there one purchase she’s going to use her Save money for, and she can’t withdraw it for any other reason? Is there a minimum amount she needs to set aside before she can donate it? Work all of these out together so she has some goals to work toward!

3. Play board games.

If your family has decided against allowances, your girl can still learn about money! During your family game nights, bust out the board games that teach budgeting, spending, investing, and saving: think Monopoly, the Game of Life, or even Settlers of Catan! The money doesn’t have to be real for your girl to improve her financial literacy!

Or, if board games aren’t really your thing, make some fake money out of construction paper and make your own game! Collect objects from around the house, put prices on them, and have your girl “buy” them with her fake money. This will teach her to budget and prioritize what she needs vs. what she wants.

4. Have her budget for an event.

Do you have a fun event coming up? Maybe she’s got a big birthday right around the corner? Let her budget for it! Decide how much she’s able to spend, and then let her decide how it gets spent!

First, let her plan out her dream party. Where it will be held, who will be there, what they will eat, what the decorations will look like — all of it! Once she’s got a vision, help her figure out what all of it will cost. It’s okay if it’s over budget (it probably will be!), because this is going to be an awesome learning opportunity for her.

What’s her biggest priority? The people she’s inviting, the cake she just has to have, or the location — who doesn’t want to celebrate their birthday at the zoo?!

Once she knows what her #1, absolutely can’t-do-without is, help her make cuts elsewhere. Maybe she makes her own cake, or she trims down the guest list. Maybe she doesn’t really need that many decorations. Whatever those choices are, she should be the one making them — we want this to be as girl-led as possible!

Plus, after all of her hard work, she’s got more than just an awesome party to celebrate — she’s got money smarts, too!


Financial literacy doesn’t have to begin when your girl gets her first job, when she lives on her own for the first time, or when she negotiates her first full-time salary. It can begin right now!

Which of these are you going to start implementing? We’d love to hear your stories!

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