Girl Scout Troop Budgeting Process

This is one method for deciding how the troop will spend its money. I used it very successfully a few years ago with a Daisy/Brownie troop of 18 girls ages 5-9. Deciding how to spend the cookie sale profits is an activity for the Penny Power Try-It or Cookies Count badge.

First, in a troop meeting, brainstorm some things the girls would like to do that cost money and some things they’d like the troop to own (new crayons, a flag for ceremonies, etc.).

Between meetings, leaders research these things and determine what it would cost for the whole troop to do/own each one.

Take a bunch of sheets of paper that are blank on one side and fold each one in thirds. On the middle third of each sheet, write one activity and the cost.

Bring these to the next meeting, along with a set of play money from a Monopoly game or similar.

Divide girls into a few small groups and divide the papers equally among them. Have each group discuss which things are a good value for the money and which things they most want to do/own, and select 5 things to put up for a general vote.

Take the selected papers from all the groups and set them up as “tents” on a table such that the side with writing is facing the group. (You’ll want to seat the girls in chairs facing the table! I had them just standing around, and they all wanted to lean on the table and play with the tents and get in the way of other girls trying to read them.)

Count out in play money the amount of money the troop has. Explain that this is how much we can spend, and we are going to pretend we’re spending it on these things. If we don’t like the way it turns out, we can pick up some of the money and move it around.

Choose one thing: “It would cost $105 to go to the science center. Is that a good idea?” Moderate discussion for a minute or two, then call for a vote. If a majority of girls vote for it, put that amount of money on the table in front of the tent and go on to the next thing. Make change from the “bank” as needed.

When all the money is gone, ask if the girls are satisfied with this spending. If not, what would they like to change? Shuffle the money around until everyone agrees or you’re out of time.

This was noisy but worked extremely well! Girls were very sensible about choosing lower-cost activities similar to pricier ones. They agreed, for example, that sleeping at the zoo wouldn’t be $200 more fun than doing a daytime badge workshop at the zoo and then having a slumber party at the church where we meet. They were thrilled to learn that some crafts that sounded very exciting (such as making suncatchers out of shrink plastic) would cost very little. Most importantly, they saw exactly how much money their hard work had earned and where it was going to go.

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