The American dream is alive and well among girls, according to a new report by the Girl Scout Research Institute, which reveals that girls feel optimistic about their financial futures, yet are less than fully knowledgeable about essential financial principles and instruments, from using credit cards to establishing good credit. And just 12 percent of the girls surveyed say they feel confident in making financial decisions.
“The research that comes out of this study tells us that girls know how important it is to be financially literate,” said Pam Hyland, CEO of the Girl Scouts of NYPENN Pathways, Inc. “It also shows us that we need to be more proactive in providing programming for girls to gain the confidence they need to become financially independent and responsible citizens.”
The study, Having It All: Girls and Financial Literacy, comes out at a time of continued economic uncertainty. The country’s recovery from the 2009 recession has been marked by slow economic growth and high unemployment, as well as increasing concern over the costs of a college education and the unprecedented levels of student loan indebtedness.
The study, which surveyed 1,040 girls ages 8 to 17, found that girls are averse to debt. However, in order to avoid debt, these girls say they need more education about how credit works. In fact, nearly 4 in 10 girls say they don’t know how to use a credit card, only 38 percent know what a credit score is, and just 37 percent know how credit card interest and fees work. Perhaps not surprisingly, a vast majority (90 percent) say that it is important for them to learn how to manage their money.
Despite the recession and economic uncertainty, girls are bullish about their financial futures. Some 88 percent say they are likely to make more money than their parents, and nearly all girls say it is likely that they will have jobs or careers they enjoy (98 percent), be able to provide for their families (96%), and own their own homes (95 percent) one day.
This generation of girls is financially empowered and independent. A great majority feel gender is no barrier to what they can accomplish financially, and they envision a future family structure where they are fully engaged in financial decision making and planning. When it comes to financial capability, 7 in 10 girls say both men and women are equally likely to be financially responsible (73 percent) or in a lot of debt (72 percent).
“Our Girl Scouting program offers girls an opportunity to learn these skills and become more financially literate,” says Hyland. “Our programs give girls the skills they need to succeed in life and the confidence they need to know they are making the right financial decisions.”
Girl Scouts offers a financial empowerment program that ensures girls have the opportunities to build their business sense and hone their financial literacy skills. Girls build on these skills as they progress through the K-12 curriculum to become knowledgeable, confident, and self-reliant participants in a global economy. Whether a girl is working to earn the Financing My Future badge or the Money Manager badge, she is developing financial savvy, business skills, and innovative thinking.