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Beyond Sugar and Spice: How to Teach Girls About Money and Credit

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Raising a daughter is a special and complicated experience. Girls and women face particular challenges in the world, so preparing our daughters is essential.

So how do you get your little girl ready to enter the world of money and credit? You can tackle this task in several ways, and you can find organizations set up to help.

Why focus on teaching girls about finances?

While it’s important to teach our daughters and sons about money, there are reasons to pay special attention to girls.

If current trends continue, we can expect our daughters to earn less than their male counterparts when they enter the workforce. But if we help girls develop a healthy and confident attitude toward money, they can avoid a lifetime of being underpaid. With the right tools, they’ll be well positioned to negotiate a fair salary and invest their earnings for the future.

On average, women live longer than men. This means we need to encourage girls to manage their money properly from the start. It will help ensure that they’re financially comfortable throughout their years.

Finally, we live in a culture that still considers money a man’s domain. Media messages tell girls they’re shoppers and spenders, while boys are savers and earners. To remedy this, we need to take steps to make sure that girls understand their financial power.

National groups step in

In recent years, there has been a push to bring credit and financial literacy programs to public schools. Several national organizations are focusing specifically on educating girls about money. For instance:

Girls Inc. is teaching girls ages 6-18 about a broad range of financial topics through its Economic Literacy initiative. The organization offers four financial education programs on topics that include choosing the right career, budgeting and responsible credit card use.

Girl Scouts of America takes its responsibility to teach girls about finances seriously, and this century-old organization has the badges to prove it. In 2011, several financial badges were added to the group’s traditional repertoire, including Business Owner, Money Manager and Good Credit.

As any Scout can tell you, earning these badges is no joke. To earn the Good Credit badge, girls need to learn all the details about credit reports and scores. If your daughter secures this badge, she may know more about credit than you!

The YWCA  sponsors a number of nationwide events to teach women and girls about their finances. The organization emphasizes empowerment through knowledge of debt, credit, budgeting and entrepreneurship.

What you can do at home

Signing your daughter up for a financial education workshop is a fine idea. But there are steps you should take at home to ensure that she grows up to be a savvy about money and credit:

  • Talk about money openly – saving, spending, earning and investing. This might be uncomfortable at first, but if you remove the taboo at home she’s more likely to feel confident asking for advice.
  • Never dismiss a money-related question. If she asks a question you don’t know the answer to, look into it and follow up with her. This shows that it’s important to be well informed about finances.
  • Clearly explain how credit cards work.
  • Clearly explain how to build and maintain good credit – you might even review your credit report and score together. Be ready to answer questions.
  • Explain that investing (not just saving) builds wealth.
  • Encourage her to seek out leadership roles and explore careers that aren’t traditionally female.

The takeaway: Raising daughters to be financially empowered is essential. National organizations have stepped in to help, but parents should also strive to prepare their daughters for the financial world ahead.

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