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Financial Literacy During Uncertain Times

From Girl Scouts of the USA

From our sense of security and wellbeing to canceled troop activities, graduations, and birthdays, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected all aspects of our lives. For so many of us, the ongoing uncertainty means having to navigate difficult situations. So this April—for Financial Literacy Month—we’ve partnered with Morgan Stanley’s Financial Advisors to answer a few of the questions you submitted on Facebook and Instagram. Check them out!

Jeri Salmond, Financial Advisor 
A credit score is an important number that summarizes your credit history and credit worthiness. The score helps lenders determine how likely you will pay your debt and on time. Credit scores will change over time. It is very important to keep track of your credit score and find out how the amount of debt, your payment history, as well as the types of debt you hold affect your credit score. There are several different tracking tools that can be used for free to track your credit score without affecting your score. It is important to start building a credit score when you are younger. Having no credit is almost as bad as having a low credit score. Many people start with having a small credit card or secured credit card to make small purchases and pay off monthly. The more you make on time payments and keep your debt low, the more your credit score will increase. The better your score the more likely you will receive a preferred interest rate. Credit is usually needed for large purchases in which you may not have the immediate cash savings required for purchase such as paying for college, purchasing a car, starting a business, or buying a home. Having a good credit score allows you to purchase the item on credit while making monthly payments in order to pay off the debt. 

Michelle Ward, Financial Advisor

Good savings habits can help you achieve financial freedom. We recommend that you start saving early, automatically and often. This gives you the opportunity to benefit from “compound interest,” which is simply earning interest on the interest you earned the previous month. The longer you compound, the greater the effect. Pay yourself first, before you begin to pay optional expenses and make discretionary purchases. Treat your savings like any other expense and give it priority over optional expenses. Consider how much you can save annually by cutting out common habits, like buying coffee or eating out and think about making automatic, periodic deposits to savings accounts on a monthly basis. Your savings will help when you have an emergency fund for unexpected expenses, achieve short-term goals, like going on a trip, and longer-term ones, like buying a house or choosing an occupation that you love without having to weigh in how much will you earn. 

Teri Kelley, Financial Advisor
Creating a budget is always a helpful approach as it allows you to see your cash flow. Once you do that, you can identify essentials, like your rent/mortgage, utilities, medicine, transportation costs and food (needs) and pay those fixed bills first before paying for non-essential items like clothes, games, etc. (wants). In times of crisis that affect your finances like the loss of a job, you really have to stick to the basics and make necessary adjustments. You may need to defer or reduce payments on things like; saving contributions, credit card payments, etc. And remember, that hopefully this is just a temporary adjustment and once things get back to “normal”, you’ll be able to resume things you may have had to give up.

Jane Rojas, Financial Advisor
My suggestion to prioritizing bills when you are short on cash is to stand back, look at what is most important to your life, and decide what needs your immediate attention – and write that out from most important to least important. This should include thoughts about what you can’t live without: electricity, rent, etc. Then I would look at the actual cost of not paying each bill each month: a credit card may not be urgent, but if you don’t pay it, there could be late fees plus interest of 20% or more on top of that. Last – negotiate when you can on how to stretch out your payments in a way that you don’t get the high cost of ignoring them, but to a point that makes them manageable.
When you get the short-term problems fixed, then work on the bigger problem of not having enough cash for the bills you have. Look again at what is most important and look at how you might reduce the cost of each of them: move to a lower-cost apartment, get a cheaper phone or phone plan, do your own nails. The key to success is spending less than you make, NOT MORE.

Kate Waters, Financial Advisor

The goal should always be to have as little debt as possible, but there are certain instances where debt can be “good debt.” For instance, if you think you can get a better-paying job by going to college or going for your master’s, medical, or law degree, then it might be smart to take on a student loan if you can’t afford it all on your own. This also holds true for buying a home. In both instances, you need to understand how long it will take to pay off and to make sure there is potential for a positive longer-term return on your investment. You also need to make sure the additional expense of the loan fits within your budget and be prudent about paying it down. By being diligent about your personal finances and responsible about paying down debt, you can be well on your way to being debt-free! 
To help build girls’ confidence, Girl Scouts has developed Financial Literacy badges that your girl can start earning today! The badge activities are based on real-life situations, such as budgeting and philanthropy, to give girls a deeper understanding of financial literacy power their future life success! You can also check out Girl Scouts at Home—our hub of online activities, including some for financial literacy!

 

Thien Le, Financial Advisor

The first financial lesson is to learn how to set goals. Setting goals is a great way to determine what to save for and to stay focused on your financial objectives and your reasons for saving. Bucket each goal into short term, medium term, and long term. Short term could be buying a new car, while long term could be retirement; which it’s never too early to think about. Start saving now as soon as you have earned income from your part time job or when you begin to work full time. When my 16-year-old daughter got her first job as a math tutor, I opened a retirement account for her to encourage her to save a little each month. Lastly, don’t be afraid of investing, and learn how to do it. Staying focused and keeping money invested in the market can be rewarding over time, but it may require patience and a long investment horizon. With market volatility, people often panic and make irrational decisions, so it is important to review your goals and remain focused on your investment objectives. 

Lisa Benton, Financial Advisor

An emergency savings fund is money that you have set aside for unexpected life events, such as losing a job or paying for a broken-down car. It’s a good idea for everyone to create one. When you are first starting, aim to save a few hundred dollars in a separate savings account. A convenient way to do this is by establishing a direct deposit for your emergency savings account. This allows the funds to be transferred into your account automatically. The ultimate goal will be to save three to six months of your take-home pay as a cushion for life’s uncertainties. Remember that this can be done gradually as your cash flow allows. One of the best ways to be financially savvy is to plan and that includes planning for the unexpected. 
To help build girls’ confidence, Girl Scouts has developed Financial Literacy badges that your girl can start earning today! The badge activities are based on real-life situations, such as budgeting and philanthropy, to give girls a deeper understanding of financial literacy power their future life success! You can also check out Girl Scouts at Home—our brand-new hub of online activities, including some for financial literacy!
We want to hear how your girl is using her Girl Scout skills by taking initiative, caring for the community, and Girl Scouting at home. She can send in her story here.

Your voice counts! Complete the 2021 Girl Scout Voices Count Survey

At Girl Scouts, we care about your experience—good or bad—and we want to hear from you!

In April 2021, Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) be conducting a national survey with girls, parents or caregivers, and troop leaders called Girl Scout Voices Count. (Service unit volunteers will be surveyed in May.) We will use your feedback to find out what’s working and what’s not to improve our services and programs.

The surveys opened April 5, so be sure to check your email for the invitation to participate. As a thank you, everyone who completes the survey will have a chance to win one of 20 $50 gift cards! We can’t wait for you to make your voice count!

Got questions? Email GSVoicesCount@girlscouts.org.

We want to hear how your girl is using her Girl Scout skills by taking initiative, caring for the community, and Girl Scouting at home. She can send in her story here.

Serving Girls Where They Serve: Girl Scouts Celebrates the Military Child

In Partnership with Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA)

From Massachusetts to California and Brazil to Beijing, Girl Scouts is proud to serve military families across our country and the world. Each day, we’re inspired by the sisterhood of military-connected girls and volunteers who live and breathe our Girl Scout Promise to serve our country and continue to make a difference (and have fun!) while doing it.

That’s why this April, we’re proud to celebrate our military-based Girl Scouts who give so much to our Movement during the Month of the Military Child.

No matter where a family’s military service takes girls, Girl Scouts is at the ready with tried-and-true programming and a supportive network that allows girls to continue their unique leadership journeys; build new friendships; and enjoy a reliable, safe space of their own.

How can you participate? It’s easy!

Upcoming Events

April 15 – Purple Up! Show your support and celebrate military-connected children by wearing purple. Purple represents the joint environment of the military and encompasses all service branches, Active Duty, Reserve, National Guard, and veterans.

April 20- View from My Window Art Workshop for military-connected children

Celebrate Month of the Military Child through art! Each year the Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC) encourages military-connected children to express their creative side. This year’s theme is “The View from My Home,” showcasing the varying life experiences through the different military branches.

Register here

April 27- Meet an Expert: Brigadier General Linell A. Letendre

Brigadier General Linell A. Letendre is also a robotics lawyer and aeronautical engineering graduate from the U.S. Air Force Academy. She will talk about her career, education, and experience in the U.S. Air Force.

Register here

Celebrate on Social Media 

Share your story! Post a picture or video on social media using #MonthoftheMilitaryChild and #BecauseofGirlScouts. Tag GSCO on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram. Twitter and Instagram users should also use #GSColo. You can also submit your story and photos to the GSCO Blog.  Like Chloe did, a Girl Scout Junior with USA Girl Scouts Overseas in Germany:

Girl Scouts has been a place I can come to be myself and to experience things I never thought I could. The best part of being a girl scout here in Germany is the girl power my troop has . . . we have bonded so much and have come together through all our experiences. I am so glad that I made the choice to become a Girl Scout, military life isn’t always easy but my troop has made it easier.
Color at Home

 

Although we may not be able to gather to celebrate our military communities, you can show your Girl Scout and military pride with our Month of the Military Child coloring packet! Decorate your homes, windows, and communities with your own versions of this artwork throughout the month of April.

Earn Badges

Visit Girl Scouts at Home to complete creative activities that celebrate you, your families, and your communities.

The Carla Montana Distinguished Military Veteran Memorial Girl Scout Adventure Fund

Carla grew up in a family where service to one’s country and friendship to sister Girl Scouts were important values. In honor of Carla’s military service, love of Girl Scouts and travel, Carla’s family has made a generous lead gift to establish The Carla Montana Distinguished Military Veteran Memorial Girl Scout Adventure Fund. In March 2020, we reached out to Girl Scout supporters and military families with a challenge to raise a minimum of $10,000 to complete this endowment.  Thanks to donations from many of you and a generous matching gift we have achieved this goal. Distributions from the endowment will provide Colorado Girl Scouts from military families with scholarships to experience the learning, joy and camaraderie acquired through travel and adventure.

Learn More

We want to hear how your girl is using her Girl Scout skills by taking initiative, caring for the community, and Girl Scouting at home. She can send in her story here.

 

Celebrate Earth Day with Your Girl Scouts

Earth Day is just around the corner, April 22. Check out just a few of the ways your Girl Scouts can celebrate both in-person and virtually!

Join one of GSCO’s Naturalist Clubs at one of their biweekly meetings! Girls will complete an activity celebrating or preserving the natural world created specifically for them under the guidance and encouragement of Girl Scout staff. They will also receive ideas to continue to spark their creativity and learning in between sessions. Girls can choose to attend all sessions in April or pick a few to attend. Sign up once, and you’re ready to go for the season.

Schedule for Daisies, Brownies, and Juniors:

  • April 14: Naturally Slow Fashion: Tips for being a Green Fashionista
  • April 28: All About Flowers

Register now!

Schedule for Cadettes, Seniors, and Ambassadors:

  • April 1: City Farming and Urban Agriculture
  • April 15: Eco-Friendly Yards
  • April 29: Flower Hour: Beauty and Impact

Register now!

Join Girl Scouts of the USA for a virtual Earth Day celebration that just might change the world! The Plant the Future with the Girl Scout Tree Promise event featuring Danni Washington on April 22 will give girls an opportunity to learn about the power of trees to keep our communities healthy and strong. Sign up today! Learn more about the Girl Scout Tree Promise here.

Participate in Girl Scouts of the USA’s Citizen Scientist service project and help scientists collect data for their studies and experiments. Learn more here!

Use Girl Scouts of the USA’s Badge Explorer to find a badge to earn or Journey to complete that’s related to the environment. Here are just a few ideas to get you started.

  • Daisy Eco Learner
  • Brownie Household Elf- Learn some new household habits to help your family save energy, save water, and save the planet! GSCO Media Star Zoe explains in this video how Girl Scout Brownies can even earn their Household Elf badge. For more fun activities to earn this badge, watch this video by the GSCO Outreach team.
  • Junior Gardener- This series on the GSCO Blog by our Outreach team helps Juniors complete Step Five of their Gardener Badge, which is to grow their own garden.
  • Cadette Trees – Check out this series on the GSCO Blog by members of our Outreach team to help Cadettes find out all about trees: from the shade to the science, the fruit to the forest, and the legends to the lumber.
  • Senior Eco Explorer
  • Ambassador Eco Advocate

Make seed bombs. This fun project can be done with mostly recycled materials. Learn how in this video by GSCO Media Star Myla from Arvada or in this video GSCO Media Star Bianca from Denver.

Make Fairy Bells. Learn how in this video by GSCO Media Star Lizzy from Littleton.

We want to hear how your girl is using her Girl Scout skills by taking initiative, caring for the community, and Girl Scouting at home. She can send in her story here.

Girl Scouts Celebrate Faith During Girl Scout Week

Are you curious about other faiths? Do you want to learn more about your own faith and how it connects to your Girl Scout leadership journey? Join your sister Girl Scouts and faith leaders to celebrate your own faith, learn about other faiths, and take steps to earn your My Promise, My Faith pin. The My Promise, My Faith pin invites Girl Scouts in grades 4-12 to experience a faith journey through exploration of the Girl Scout Law and teachings from their faith. You can earn this national pin each year.

An upcoming event series with Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) will feature an interfaith celebration followed by Girl Scouts and faith speakers sharing their views on what makes their faith unique, and what we have in common. This series will also include fun, interactive activities. Try to attend all three sessions.

Register today to guarantee your spot: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/awesome-girls-girls-of-faith-celebrating-together-registration-140163927079

All faiths welcome!

On the event day, visit the online event page by following the link in your reminder email. From there, you’ll click the link for that day’s session.

Session One:

Thursday March 11, 2021 from 7:30 – 8:45 p.m. ET

  • Interfaith Celebration
  • Judaism speakers
  • Orthodox Christian speakers

Session Two:

Friday March 12, 2021 from 7:30 – 8:45 p.m. ET

Speakers from these faiths:

  • Buddhist
  • Catholic
  • Lutheran

Session Three:

Sunday March 14, 2021 from 4 – 5:15 p.m. ET

Speakers from these faiths:

  • Baha’i
  • United Methodist
  • Muslim

Questions? Contact Inquiry@gscolorado.org.

We want to hear how your girl is using her Girl Scout skills by taking initiative, caring for the community, and Girl Scouting at home. She can send in her story here.

World Thinking Day: Let’s make a more welcoming world

From Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA)

Let’s get inspired by peace activists and celebrate World Thinking Day!

Our theme for 2021 is “Peacebuilding.”  

Let’s take the opportunity to:  

Since 1926, Girl Guides and Girl Scouts all over the world have celebrated World Thinking Day on February 22. It’s a special day when we explore the global dimensions of Girl Scouting and take action to make the world a better place. 

Today, and every day, practice peacebuilding and help create a more peaceful world! Happy World Thinking Day! 

Check out World Thinking Day activities for
Daisies, Brownies, and Juniors | Cadettes, Seniors, and Ambassadors

We want to hear how your girl is using her Girl Scout skills by taking initiative, caring for the community, and Girl Scouting at home. She can send in her story here.

Honoring Josephine Holloway during Black History Month

Josephine Holloway, a champion of diversity, was one of the first Black Girl Scout troop leaders.

Josephine dreamed of bringing the Girl Scout programming to girls at a local women’s shelter in Nashville, Tennessee, and in 1924, she fought for the opportunity to do just that. By the end of the year, more than 300 girls there were engaged in Girl Scout-inspired activities.

Nearly 10 years later in 1933 when Blacks and other minorities in our country still faced staunch racism, Josephine made her first attempt to form an official troop for Black girls, but her request was initially denied. The local council declined, citing the high cost of maintaining separate facilities for Blacks. Nevertheless, Josephine pressed on, and in 1942, after much perseverance, the region’s first Black Girl Scout troop was established. At this time, segregation and oppression was commonplace.

Learn more about Josephine Holloway and her vision, courage, and passion for bringing Girl Scouting to all girls here.

You and your girls can also complete the following  activity to honor Josephine’s legacy and celebrate Black History Month.

Josephine Holloway SWAPS

We want to hear how your girl is using her Girl Scout skills by taking initiative, caring for the community, and Girl Scouting at home. She can send in her story here.

Awesome Girls: Diversity, Inclusion, and You: Girls Making a Difference

How can you take action for equality? Girls in grades 6–12 are invited to join Girl Scouts of the USA, Little Brownie Bakers, and The David and Lura Lovell Foundation for an engaging chat with inspiring women, including corporate leaders and National Gold Award Girl Scouts on Saturday, February 20, 2021 from 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. MST. Hosted by Girl Scout Seniors and Ambassadors (grades 9–12), this virtual event—Diversity, Inclusion, and You: Girls Making a Difference—will lift up people who advance diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) to make the world a better place.

Register now: https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/5094800845194282000?source=Executive+Essentials

Panelists will discuss how they have furthered DEI in the workplace and in their communities. They will talk about their efforts to end violence against Indigenous women, expand the inclusion of people with disabilities, increase the visibility of the LGBTQ+ community, combat food deserts, and address menstrual stigma.

Girls who attend will:

  • Learn about careers that are focused on advancing DEI
  • Think about and gain inspiration for their own Take Action projects or Girl Scout Gold Award projects
  • Learn—and be able to ask questions—about issues related to DEI

Questions for the guest speakers are welcomed in advance and will be considered for the live Q&A segment of the event. Please submit your questions with your registration.

Unable to attend live? Not to worry! Register now and you’ll be able to view the playback when it’s available.

Note: In order to be responsive to girls’ needs, some discussions during this panel may focus on subjects that may be considered sensitive in nature.

We want to hear how your girl is using her Girl Scout skills by taking initiative, caring for the community, and Girl Scouting at home. She can send in her story here.

Black History Month: A Celebration of #BlackGirlMagic

From Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA)

To honor Black History Month this year, we’re celebrating the next generation of world-changers who are out there making history right now, embodying Black Girl Magic across the country!

While it’s important to recognize all year long the incredible talent, power, beauty, and resilience of Black women and girls everywhere—Black Girl Magic—February offers a special time to lift up the many important moments in history that have Black leaders at the center. Throughout the month, we’ll shine an extra bright spotlight on the voices and stories of Black girls who are making change—and history—across the Girl Scout Movement.

From taking civic action for social change, to expanding access to clean air and water, to championing STEM education for marginalized populations, to addressing food insecurity, there’s no limit to what Girl Scouts can do—because they show us just that. Below are a few examples of Girl Scouts who are impacting their corner of the world in major ways to create a better place for us all.

Let’s dive in and get inspired to shake things up—Girl Scout style. 

Libby and Charlotte

 

For their Girl Scout Silver Award and inspired by Little Free Diverse Libraries, Girl Scout Cadettes Libby and Charlotte built a little diverse library in their town and stocked it with books written by and about people of color. These Girl Scout sisters set up a book donation drive at their local elementary school and also reached out to publishers for contributions. So far they’ve collected over 200 books! Follow Libby’s and Charlotte’s project on Instagram to keep up with the library’s latest additions and get ideas for books to add to your family’s own library hold list! 

Kennedy
For her high school peers, National Gold Award Girl Scout Kennedy built a database of more than 50 groups and organizations that offer service-learning opportunities. She also equipped students at her school with guidance on how to match their interests to organizations that need support. Kennedy’s hard work meant that more service hours were logged per student than before she took action. And there’s more: this go-getting Girl Scout founded the World Changers Service Club, a group of young civic leaders like her who promote the true meaning of service learning and undertake projects to support their communities. Learn more about Kennedy’s Gold Award.

 

Kayla
Girl Scout Kayla believes that with a little effort, we can make a BIG difference for the environment. She earned her Gold Award by raising awareness about waste minimization, which refers to processes that reduce the amount and toxicity of hazardous waste that’s generated. Kayla even founded a nonprofit, Earth Savers Rock, and she continues to promote environmental sustainability by providing her social media followers with information and practical tips to help them reduce, reuse, and recycle.

Randi

Girl Scout Ambassador Randi is working to earn her Gold Award via a project she’s titled A Nation’s Guide to Diversity and Inclusion, which helps both kids and adults emphasize diversity and inclusion in everyday life. Randi’s work also supports people in incorporating four interrelated principles of social justice into their lives: equity, access, participation, and human rights. Next up for Randi is hosting virtual forums on these crucial topics. Check out her Social Justice Resource Center and watch her upcoming events page to join the conversation.

Temple
When she was just 9 years old, Girl Scout Cadette Temple launched a website dedicated to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Now 12 and an aspiring astrophysicist, in her words Temple “advocates for girls and minorities to gain exposure to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics related fields.” She offers free workshops, classes, and motivational talks to get more youth involved in STEM—and her STEM Girl Swag movement is growing by the week! 
Cydney
Last September, Gold Award Girl Scout Cydney was named Philadelphia’s youth poet laureate. (Whoa.) In the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, when many people were spending a good deal of time indoors, Cydney found she was able to really focus on writing—including for her Gold Award, Project GOOD (Girls Overcome Obstacles Daily), a virtual mentoring space where middle and high school girls can connect, work through issues, and talk about healthy relationships. With her project, Cydney hopes to “let young people know that we have the power to change things.” Get inspired by more of Cydney’s work at Cydtalks.
Kiara

 

National Gold Award Girl Scout Kiara created the Very Hungry Caterpillar Garden in her community, so that she could grow healthy food for distribution through the local food pantry. In her words, “When people who aren’t experiencing food insecurity think about people who are, they may assume that if a person has access to a food bank they’ll be OK. But food banks don’t always offer many fresh food options.” Read more about Kiara’s Gold Award project, which also addressed education and empowerment. 

Let’s keep the celebration going all year! On social media, share examples of Black Girl Magic in your troop, being sure to tag us on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram, or send us a private message. Let’s show the world—over and over again—what #BlackGirlMagic can do!

National Cookie Link Launches February 1

This year, GSUSA is running a national campaign to encourage and support the 2021 Girl Scout Cookie Program by creating a national cookie link, or URL. Customers can enter their zip code and search the Cookie Finder to find a troop in their area that is selling cookies!

NOTE: Customers will have ONLY the options to place an order for shipped or donated when they select a troop URL through the Cookie Finder. TCMs will be responsible equally dividing the troop link cookie sales amongst the girls in the troop.

In order for troops to participate in the national campaign, the troop URL must be activated in Digital Cookie.

Once the troop URL link is activated, it will appear in the Cookie Finder on February 1.

For more detailed information and steps to activate link, check out these Digital Cookie Tip Sheets:

Troop Direct Ship Link

Troop Link Enabling Delivery

We want to hear how your girl is using her Girl Scout skills by taking initiative, caring for the community, and Girl Scouting at home. She can send in her story here.