Manage Your Finances

Could You Earn the Boy Scout Personal Finance Merit Badge?

personal finance merit badge
I love the Boy Scout motto: Be Prepared.  I also love that the Boy Scouts have a personal finance merit badge.

The official Boy Scout motto traces back to a book published in 1908 titled Scouting for Boys.  The author was Baden Powell, who also founded the Boy Scouts Association in England that same year.  A short two years later the Boy Scouts of America were established and quickly grew to become the largest youth organization in America.

When Powell was later asked exactly what one should “Be Prepared” for, his answer was ‘Why, for any old thing.‘  He wasn’t kidding.

Personal Finance Merit Badge Requirements

When thinking of Boy Scouts you probably conjure up images of young men camping, hiking, fishing, and knot-tying, but the Boy Scout organization attempts to teach their Scouts so much more than that.  A Boy Scout should ‘Be Prepared’ for all walks of life, not just the outdoors.

Be Prepared.  There really is no aspect of your life in which this motto isn’t applicable.

There are currently about 135 merit badges that a Boy Scout can earn.  One of them that’s relevant for this blog is the Personal Finance merit badge (note: this particular badge was recently renamed the Personal Management merit badge).  All of the requirements to earn this merit badge are below, but requirements 1 – 7, and 10 are related to personal finance.  Here are the requirements a Scout, aged 10-17, must do to earn their personal finance merit badge.

Be Prepared To Do The Following


     I-A.  Choose an item that your family might want to purchase that is considered a major expense.

     I-B. Write a plan that tells how your family would save money for the purchase identified in requirement I-A.

  1. Discuss the plan with your merit badge counselor.
  2. Talk about the plan with your family.
  3. Consider how other family needs must be considered in this plan.

     I-C.  Develop a written shopping strategy for the purchase identified in requirement

  1. Determine the quality of the item or service (using consumer publications or ratings systems).
  2. Comparison shop for the item. Find out where you can buy the item for the best price. (Provide prices from at least two different price sources.) Call around; study ads. Look for a sale or discount coupon. Consider alternatives. Can you buy the item used? Should you wait for a sale?



     II-A.  Prepare a budget reflecting your expected income (allowance, gifts, wages),expenses, and savings. Track and record your actual income, expenses, and savings for 13 consecutive weeks. (You may use the forms provided in this pamphlet, devise your own, or use a computer-generated version.) When complete, present the records showing the results to your merit badge counselor.

     II-B.  Compare expected income with expected expenses.

  1. If expenses exceed income, determine steps to balance your budget.
  2. If income exceeds expenses, state how you would use the excess money (new goal, savings).



     III-A.  The emotions you feel when you receive money.

     III-B.  Your understanding of how the amount of money you have with you affects your spending habits.

     III-C.  Your thoughts when you buy something new and your thoughts about the same item three months later. Explain the concept of buyer’s remorse.

     III-D.  How hunger affects you when shopping for food items (snacks, groceries).

     III-E.  Your experience of an item you have purchased after seeing or hearing advertisements for it. Did the item work as well as advertised?

     III-F.  Your understanding of what happens when you put money into a savings account.

     III-G.  Charitable giving. Explain its purpose and your thoughts about it.

     III-H.  What you can do to better manage your money.



     IV-A.  The differences between saving and investing, including reasons for using one over the other.

     IV-B.  The concepts of return on investment and risk.

     IV-C.  The concepts of simple interest and compound interest and how these affected the results of your investment exercise.



     V-A.  Current price

     V-B.  How much the price changed from the previous day

     V-C.  The 52-week high and the 52-week low prices



     VI-A.  Common stocks

     VI-B.  Mutual funds

     VI-C.  Life insurance

     VI-D.  A certificate of deposit (CD)

     VI-E.  A savings account or U.S. savings bond



     VII-A.  What a loan is, what interest is, and how the annual percentage rate (APR) measures the true cost of a loan.

     VII-B.  The different ways to borrow money.

     VII-C.  The differences between a charge card, debit card, and credit card. What are the costs and pitfalls of using these financial tools? Explain why it is unwise to make only the minimum payment on your credit card.

     VII-D.  Credit reports and how personal responsibility can affect your credit report.

     VII-E.  Ways to reduce or eliminate debt.



     VIII-A.  Write a “to do” list of tasks or activities, such as homework assignments, chores, and personal projects, that must be done in the coming week. List these in order of importance to you.

     VIII-B.  Make a seven-day calendar or schedule. Put in your set activities, such as school classes, sports practices or games, jobs or chores, and/or Scout or place of worship or club meetings, then plan when you will do all the tasks from your “to do” list between your set activities.

     VIII-C.  Follow the one-week schedule you planned. Keep a daily diary or journal during each of the seven days of this week’s activities, writing down when you completed each of the tasks on your “to do” list compared to when you scheduled them.

     VIII-D.  Review your “to do” list, one-week schedule, and diary/journal to understand when your schedule worked and when it did not work. With your merit badge counselor, discuss and understand what you learned from this requirement and what you might do differently the next time.



Note: This is a project on paper, not a real life project.  Examples could include planning a camping trip, developing a community service project or a school or religious event, or creating an annual patrol plan with additional activities not already included in the troop annual plan. Discuss your completed project plan with your merit badge counselor.

     IX-A.  Define the project. What is your goal?

     IX-B.  Develop a timeline for your project that shows the steps you must take from beginning to completion.

     IX-C.  Describe your project.

     IX-D.  Develop a list of resources. Identify how these resources will help you achieve your goal.

     IX-E.  Develop a budget for your project.



     X-A.  Choose a career you might want to enter after high school or college graduation.

     X-B.  Research your anticipated career and discuss with your merit badge counselor what you have learned about qualifications such as education, skills, and experience.

Don’t Forget The Girl Scouts!

A couple of comments below got me thinking about the Girl Scouts and if they offer a similar badge.  The answer is yes.  Yes they do and they put the Boy Scouts to shame!  Girl Scouts have the opportunity to earn THIRTEEN Financial Literacy badges through the different journeys a Girl Scout can take, starting with Daisy (age 5) all the way through Ambassador (age 17).

Girl Scout Financial Literacy Program and Badges

Here’s how the Girl Scout Financial Literacy Program looks:


Daisies are the youngest Girl Scouts.  This journey is for kids in grades K-1.  These gals start their financial literacy journey by earning the following badges:

  • 1. Money Counts
  • 2. Making Choices


Brownies are girls in second and third grade.  The FinLit badges they can earn are:

  • 3. Money Manager
  • 4. Philanthropist


The journey for girls in grades 4 and 5 is, in my opinion, where things start to get good!  Kids this age have a good idea of what money is, and how it’s used.  With this basic understanding, the education is on a new level.  The Girl Scout Financial Literacy badges for Juniors are:

  • 5. Business Owner
  • 6. Savvy Shopper


Cadettes are Girl Scouts in grades 6 through 8 – the tough middle school years!  Here are the three badges kids in this particular journey can earn:

  • 7. Budgeting
  • 8. Comparison Shopping
  • 9. Financing My Dreams (ooooh – I like this one!!)


It’s officially getting real.  The girls are officially young women know, and if they’ve completed their Financial Literacy journey this far, they’ve got some serious financial chops and probably have a better financial foundation than many adults!  Here are the badges that Seniors can get:

  • 10. Financing My Future (man, that’s great as well!)
  • 11. Buying Power


All journeys must come to and end.  For Girl Scouts, the Journey ends with Ambassadors.  Girls can earn two more FinLit badges before exiting the Girl Scout program altogether and taking the real world by storm!  Here are the final two badges:

  • 12. Good Credit
  • 13. On My Own

Look at the Girl Scouts swooping in and putting the Boy Scouts to shame with a 13 step financial literacy program!  Pass along the Thin Mints and Tagalongs and color me impressed!  Next time I’m buying a box several boxes of Girl Scout cookies I’ll be sure to ask these mini-entrepreneurs if they’re participating in the Financial Literacy Journey.

Is your #personalbudget a mess? Maybe you could learn something from the #BoyScouts or #GirlScouts about managing your #familybudget. Could you earn the Boy Scout #PersonalFinance #MeritBadge?

Chime In!

Whoa! That’s a lot of personal finance for young boys and girls to chew on, but any kid that took this seriously would come away with not only a Personal Finance merit badge (or 13 FinLit badges) but also a very solid financial foundation, and a better understanding of money than most Americans have.  So what do you think, could you earn the Personal Finance merit badge?  Could you complete the Financial Literacy Journey?

By Ty Roberts

Ty Roberts is the founder of Camp FIRE Finance, and a husband and father of four living in the Seattle area. He's a fan of the 4% rule, 80s movies and music, dad jokes and cast iron cooking.

45 replies on “Could You Earn the Boy Scout Personal Finance Merit Badge?”

Scouting For Boys? They should really rethink that title.

I always wanted to be a Girl Scout but my mom never took the bait. My cousins were scouts and their mom a leader. We, instead, joined Indian Princesses so our dad went with us. I don’t recall any merit badges but, damn, that sounds like an intense gauntlet to get a badge!

Glad to see you back writing. 🙂

DUDE – do you have ALDI there? If so, they have THE BEST Girl Scout knock offs year round! I love the samoas but they also have thin mints and tag alongs. Must try!! If you don’t have them, I’ll bring some next time I’m out that way! 🙂 Or to FinCon!!

Good to see you back!
Although I am missing the requisite equipment for a Boy scout badge, this sounds like a great program! I was in Girl scouts briefly, but we never did anything fun or educational like this. All we did was bake cakes and once visit an old lady and her kaleidoscope collection (say that ten times fast), but all I wanted to do was hunt and go fishing. Go figure…

Wow. I had no idea. Great stuff, and very well thought out. I wonder how many “Boy” (sorry, Miss Mazuma) Scouts earn the badge? Too bad they changed the name, PF sounds so much better than “Personal Management”. Makes me wonder if “finance” scared folks off…

Nice to have you back. We’ve missed you!

I tried to find some stats on the most popular badges, but unfortunately I couldn’t find that info. I’d guess that Personal Finance probably isn’t anywhere near the top 10 though 🙂

But will the counselor or scout master be able to discuss and understand these concepts? Most adults are abysmally ignorant about all this, right? Pity the poor scout who has to school the adult on these topics…

Welcome back! I’m with Lindsay! I had no idea they had this badge for boys but us girls we’re tasked with more homemaker badges. Ugh! I’m sure it’s changed now but in the 70s…I think I lasted one year as a girl scout. I was a rebel even then. But yes, methinks I would get this badge!

The Girl Scouts have indeed upped their game! They offer a total of 13 finance literacy badges that kids aged 5 – 17 can earn – impressive! I’m going to update this post to include this info.

These groups have some seriously thorough financial literacy badges!

While the Boy Scouts certainly make you earn their single badge with all of the activities and knowledge, I like the way the Girl Scouts break it down into age groups with (presumably) easier mini-badges. This allows them to learn as they reach the maturity level of each stage of knowledge.

Thanks for sharing!

We had to skip the day Little Bit’s Daisy troop did the financial literacy leaves for a makeup school day, so we’re supposed to do it on our own (and haven’t yet.) That said, her troop has used part of their troop money to buy supplies for a pet shelter and a homeless shelter, and even though the kids were 5-6, they had to pick out the items and get as much as possible within the budget.

Wow, love the concept! And who wouldn’t want to earn a badge? Thanks for sharing how the programs work.

And thank you (not) Miss M for alerting me to those knock-off cookies at Aldi. Up until now I’ve passed them by.

Great to see you back, Ty!

Woohoo, he’s back! 🙂

I was a girl scout for a couple of years and even a co-leader for my daughter’s brownie troop years ago but I do not remember these badges. I should have paid more attention.

I agree your logo would make a great badge!

This is so cool! I was never in Girl Scouts because my parents were too busy with work to take me to the meetings (and I guess no one thought of asking a friend to take me… random), but my friend who was in it just seemed to do boring things. Nothing cool or entrepreneurial like this! And this was in the 90s… glad to see things are changing!

Seriously makes me want to rope my nephew (the only young child I know!) into Boy Scouts. What an excellent way to teach children good habits (I especially like the time management aspect of the Boy Scouts badge!) year-round.

I think the Boy and Girl Scouts have done a respectable job at trying to stay somewhat modern. The evolution of these to personal finance programs is evidence of that.

Wow, Ty. I only associated the boy scouts and the girl scouts with camping. I had no idea that they delved into personal finance as well. That’s great. Both organizations are doing yeoman’s work. As far as getting a personal finance merit badge? Haha! Before I turned 40, no way. I was a financial moron until very late in life. Now I like to believe that I can knock out a personal finance merit badge in my sleep (yes, I took my ego pills this morning). Thanks for a very illuminating post, my friend. Cheers.

Boy Scouts = Camping and Girl Scouts = Cookies. I’m sure that’s the first thing most people think of. Good to remember that camping and cookies are just tools used by these orgs to teach kids other life skills and lessons. Thanks for stopping by, Mr. G!

As a Daisy Girl Scout leader (our troop was K level last year), we did the Money Counts badge, and it was quite awesome. I went to the bank and asked for multiple types of coins and bills. I also brought a large collection of foreign money I’ve acquired over my years of traveling. The girls got to play with the coins in small groups, and by the end, they at least knew what each coin was, if not how much it was worth! Then we played “carnival”. Each parent helper had a “booth”, with a snack, a drink, a game, a prize, etc. Each booth was the same price – $1. We gave the girls $5 in play money, but we had 6 booths, so they had to choose to miss out on *something*. I think this may have been the first time some of them had to make choices, because a few were extremely upset that they couldn’t do everything (including my daughter!).

We’ll be doing the Making Choices badge this year (you can only earn one per year), and I’m looking forward to it!

In addition to the actual financial literacy badges, Girl Scout cookies is all about setting goals for what they girls want to do with their money. At the Daisy level, we helped them a lot, but as they get older, they’ll take on more and more of the responsibility to make goals and spend money as a troop.

I’m looking forward to watching the girls in my troop grow and learn more and more about money!

Wow, I had no idea that the Boy Scouts had a merit badge for finance, this is brilliant! We should be teaching this kind of thing in the schools but sadly we aren’t. Recently our neighbor received his Eagle Scout badge by rebuilding the dugouts at the local baseball field and a neighboring scout actually worked with a storm shelter company and helped them to finance and install a tornado shelter for a disadvantaged family who had lost their entire home to a tornado a couple of years ago. I’ve pasted the link to the tornado company’s website who donated this shelter, they’re great people and they should get some kind of credit. It’s also great to know that we have the scouts to teach our kids about caring for others.

This is brilliant! I also had some experience with a boy scout working to earn his Eagle Scout Badge. We had some very high winds during a storm that some claimed that they saw a tornado, however, the weather service says that none were sighted. It did turn out that they had something called a microburst, which had sudden gusts of wind up to 80 mph. An elderly couple suffered during this as the wind damaged their home and collapsed their garage door and one wall also buckled.

This scout approached me to ask for help to repair this garage door and wall. He worked tirelessly and we made sure that he was doing this correctly and then we made the final door adjustments. I was a pleasure to work with a young man who was already giving back to his community. Such great hope for America with young ones like this!

I LOVE that these organizations are embracing personal finance knowledge. Someone has got to, for the kids. Great post!

I had also no idea about the Girl Scouts had any finance related merit badge, up to when my sisters daughter received Budgeting badge. I asked her in detail about Financial Literacy Badges. She told me that, Girl Scouts offers girls of all ages the opportunity to build their business savvy and hone their financial literacy skills through badge programs. Really, very nice concept to teach kids about financial literacy by Scout.

The first draft of this post focused only on the boy scouts. Only after I started writing did I find out about this amazing program the Girl Scouts have. Very impressive!

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