Girl Scouts – Frugalistas in Training! Saturday, Mar 23 2013 

101 years ago this week, Juliette Gordon Low organized the first Girl Scout Troop, on March 12, 1912, in Savannah, Georgia. I’m now taking 10 seconds for a “chuckle/snort” moment as I envision Juliette’s response to a 2013 box of cookies priced at $4.00, especially considering the average 1912 salary was $750/year. Apples and oranges, I realize, but still pretty wild. Okay, *snort* I’m done. Ultra-additive, somewhat pricey cookies notwithstanding, I’m here to make the case that the 2.3 million members currently in Girl Scouts not only enjoy a fabulous and fun educational experience with other young ladies, but they’re also heading into adulthood far better equipped for life’s ups and downs, physical, emotional and financial. To all of those young ladies, the hard working Troop Leaders, and the tens of millions of adult women walking about today who can claim a faded sash and beanie in the attic, Enjoy these thin & minty facts:
(1) It’s thru the Girl Scouts that many girls enjoy their first field trips, sports experiences, community service projects, cultural exchanges, and much more. In my small opinion, this is somewhat better at building character, respect, team-building, sound-decision making and leadership than say, spending every afternoon playing video games. Just a thought, but I’m sure there’s a study or two floating out there that will back me up.

(2) Girl Scouts have a proven track record of creating outstanding women leaders. Eighty percent of women executives and female business owners were former Girl Scouts, as well as two-thirds of American Congresswomen. Now let’s talk about the first female Space Shuttle Commander, Secretary of State, Supreme Court Justice, Evening Network News Anchor, President of Harvard and Secretary of Homeland Security, who all are – you guessed it – grown up Girl Scouts.

(3) Research shows that Girl Scouts are significantly less likely to become teenage mothers, to drop out of school, or to use drugs. I’m not even going to try to put a price tag on this one. My head will explode.

(4) In today’s economy, volunteering and community service are more urgently needed than ever. Each year, Girl scouts provide nearly 80 million hours in community service. Better still – research shows that former Girl Scouts vote more and volunteer more than women who were not Girl Scouts.

(5) I saved the best for last – it’s statistically shown that girls lag behind boys in financial literacy, yet over 70% of females will be responsible for handling their own finances at some point in their lives. Tragically, “American Households Headed by Single Women” is one of the fastest growing poverty groups. Girl Scouting offers one of the most successful financial literacy programs for girls in the world. I’m going to make you read that last sentence one more time: “Girl Scouting offers one of the most successful financial literacy programs for girls in the world”.

Long story short, if you’re a former Girl Scout like me, a business owner complete with highly-opinionated, somewhat-formidable financial skills and a circa 1978 sash and beanie in the attic, or if you’re the hard-working parent of an impressionable young lady whom you’re trying to select quality after-school programs for, do yourself (and them) a favor and think long and hard about Girl Scouts . The friends they’ll make and the lessons they’ll learn will serve them beautifully for a lifetime. To all the young ladies in Troop 4961 who attend Girl Scouts with my 8-year old daughter, Katie, start practicing that wave as you board Air Force One in a few decades. Viva thin mints!

Liz Taylor – Frugal Goddess? Wednesday, Mar 6 2013 

Elizabeth Taylor would have turned 81 this week – and I have to admit it, I’m a Liz junkie. Every movie, every scandal, every husband – ask me anything about her, I’ve got the answer. If “Liz Taylor” were a category on Jeopardy, I’d clean up. Her movies were great, her outlandish diva ways were delicious and the more I read about her eight marriages and over-the-top scandals, the more I feel squeaky clean and superior by comparison. What’s not to love?

Amazingly enough, despite her legendary excesses and indulgences, when compared to some of today’s Hollywood royalty, Liz truly had her act together, especially when it came to her finances. Her love life may have been in perpetual shambles, but her bank account really held up well despite the unending divorce-lawyer fees. Examples? Why certainly – When it comes to money-management Liz-style, try these diamonds on for size:
(1) Liz knew how to invest for the future – Elizabeth Taylor’s love affair with jewelry is legendary. Her collection was one of the finest ever assembled, each piece lovingly collected over the decades and rarely parted with. At the time of her death, her collection was reportedly valued at $150 million, a mere fraction of what she originally spent on it. Unlike so many movie stars who have spend their money foolishly as soon as it gets into their hands, this diva knew how to work it – glamorously. For those of us with somewhat-lesser bank accounts who want to indulge in a little Liz bling, have some fun with the antique jewelry selections in your local thrift stores and consignment stores – it’s divine!
(2) Liz loved her real estate, owning homes lock, stock and barrel in Bel Air, Palm Springs, London and Hawaii. The girl knew a good investment when she saw it, and better still – knew how to hold on to it. You’d be surprised how many of today’s Hollywood royalty are living movie-paycheck to movie-paycheck. So not cool.

(2) Liz Taylor knew how to reinvent herself when needs be: when her film career began to wane she turned her talents down new avenues – namely perfume. If you’re at a point in your life where your earlier pursuits aren’t paying the bills, don’t hesitate to reinvent yourself to start the ball rolling on a new phase of money-making. If Liz can do it, so can you!

(3) Liz made it a point to invest her money, time and talents in worthwhile charities. She was famous for her HIV/AIDS humanitarian work, and was honored with a special Academy Award (the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award) in 1992 for her dedication to that worthwhile cause. If you have a special charity that’s near and dear to your heart, put all you’ve got into it as well – you might be surprised how it benefits your well-being just as much down the road.

In short, if you’re feeling like your money-saving ways, prudent investing and charitable giving is more frugal than fabulous – think again! Bat those eyes, throw on some bling, spritz on some perfume and keep up the great work!