Melissa D’Andrea (Program Manager, Teen Leadership Opportunities) and the Girl Scouts of Greater New York did an outstanding job of providing the teens with a well-rounded and inspiring day of leadership training. The Summit touched on multiple concerns to the teens, running the gamut from using social media to health and wellness, body image, anti-bullying and more.
Thankfully, the Girl Scouts have expanded the core cirriculum and leadership skills training to include my area of expertise – financial literacy for you(th)! The table was set for me to come and provide enrichment to the Scouts whose sashes and vests now include financial literacy badges. I am ecstatic that at a time when so many feel dificient in this area, the Girl Scouts are stepping up to fill the void.
The teens were interested in discussing different aspects of personal finance, entrepreneurship and philanthropy. These are all very important subjects and we could have devoted more than one session to any and all of them. But, with a limited amount of time for me to pour financial information into these young ladies, Money Talks had to be both relevant and deliverable while addressing these three main areas.
It occurred to me from my work with adults, that financial planning is life saving information. Very few know how to plan money for life, but it could be what is needed most. Was it overly ambitious to think that the teens could pick this up in a 2-hour session? Perhaps… but the Girl Scouts motto is “Be prepared.” Financial preparation makes all the difference because most people don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan.
As most people realize sooner or later, money is first and foremost a family matter. To get through to our young people, we have to talk about what they want to talk about before we can begin the teaching. The young ladies shared with each other many the money messages they get from their parents and their peers.
Many of them were hearing the same things over and over (so it’s not just your child). The Scouts were entertained by these money messages and the energy in the room was at 100%. The complaints were out of their system. Next in Money Talks the Scouts shared their dreams and goals for now and the future – going to college, home ownership, careers, starting businesses and families.
Then, the nuts and bolts of the session, how to get from point A to point B on the personal treasure map each Scout created. We discovered that some of these achievements did not actually require an exchange of money. The conversation included the importance of building community and the value of internships and scholarships. We discussed ways to keep growing in the absence of paid work by exchanging value for value. And, as we all know, the Girl Scouts have a great values system.
The big take away from the Money Talks financial planning session was to find ways to “pay yourself.” The cornerstone of financial empowerment is that you can (and will) find ways to make it happen (with or without the money) when you decided that it is up to you to “pay yourself.” This mindset will promote financial independence and help one become a benefit to others, rather than a burden to them.
One Scout said that to ‘pay herself’ she would create a company and jobs for others because she would get training and open up a hair salong that would provide jobs for her friends, and keep her customers looking professional and attractive. We went through the concrete steps to take to turn the dream into a plan, and the plan into action steps (starting with baby steps).
To pay yourself is to develop assets that continue to deliver value – education, training, community, networks, friendships, philanthropy, scouting. This is very different than becoming greedy and fearful about money. It is in fact, quite the opposite.
Candi Sparks is the author of children’s books about money “Can I Have Some Money?” Max Gets It!, Nacho Money and other titles. Her upcoming titles include “Sold Out“ and “Smart & Pretty” and these books for young people focus on building community and entrepreneurship. She is the Dean of Young and Rising Moguls at World of Money and a Brooklyn mother of two, on Facebook and Twitter (Candi Sparks, author).