When I was younger I was in the Boy Scouts. Like many, I started in grade school with the Cub Scouts and moved up the ranks. Ultimately, I fell short of the Eagle rank by one level, but the lessons learned over my scouting career have stuck with me through the years. Looking back on it now through the eyes of someone who must manage bills, work and family, I think the scouts helped me build a solid framework for future money management skills.
I’d like to take you on a journey through my five favorite parts of the Boy Scout Law and demonstrate how each has had an impact on me when it comes to managing my finances. Hopefully, by the end of this post you too will be prepared to go out and be a good scout with your money.
A Scout is:
For me, this hits home when I think about money management in a relationship. I’m open with my wife regarding what I spend money on and she is open with me.
Now, it would be easy for me to hide money or buy something and not tell her. However, in a relationship where you are working towards financial goals together, trust is critical.
Proving that I am trustworthy, and knowing that she is as well, helps us move towards our goals with confidence that we will succeed.
When it comes to saving money, loyalty has its perks. I show my loyalty to airlines, grocery stores, gas stations and many others shops around my town.
You know what?
My loyalty pays off and helps save money each month. By using a loyalty card at a grocery store, I build points that I can redeem for up to $0.20 off each gallon of gas when I visit a specific gas station.
I occasionally have to travel for work, and by always using the same airline I build up loyalty points (miles). When my wife needed a sudden trip to Los Angeles to see family, I used points and we paid $15 for her roundtrip ticket. Loyalty does indeed pay off!
If you already knew the Boy Scout Law then you saw this one coming. It’s tough to talk about money management and not discuss being thrifty.
During my scouting career, being thrifty wasn’t necessarily related to money. It was about making do with the resources available and not being wasteful.
Allow me the opportunity to share a personal story about a less thrifty scouting moment. I was participating in our annual Freeze Out.
This means I was camping in Missouri during the month of January (cold!) and, along with my troop, we were only allowed what we could carry on our backs. Side note, I dislike the cold. I live in Las Vegas and the winters are still too chilly for me.
As we reached our campsite I immediately started a fire and feed that sucker wood all night long. When it was time to sleep I cracked open all my hand warmers and put them in my sleeping bag.
I slept great that night.
However, the rest of the weekend I didn’t have handwarmers and I had to chop wood because that first night I burned through what was already available at the camp site. Very thrifty I was not.
Today, I view my money like the hand warmers and firewood. I can use it all now and be comfortable for a short while, but that will put me in a bad place tomorrow.
Just like in the wilderness, a good money management strategy requires conservation and proper allocation of critical resources.
When I was younger, clean meant tidying up my room and taking a shower. Those are still true today, but I’ve taken it further to encompass a clean mind and body. When it comes to managing my money, staying healthy is key.
For one, I don’t need to spend money on medication to control blood pressure, blood sugar or other ailments. Second, staying healthy allows me to be more productive at work and take less sick days.
A study by Brigham Young University looks at reducing presenteeism (working while sick) by improving physical and mental health. Finally, by sticking to a clean diet I can save money by going to the grocery store and cooking at home. A 2015 article by Business Insiderrevealed that the average cost per person to eat at Burger King is $4.99.
That would be $24.95 for dinner during one work week or $49.90 for two people. For that same amount, usually less, I can buy food at the store and enjoy a much healthier meal.
During my scouting career, being brave meant camping and enduring some unpleasant elements or exploring a new cave. As an adult managing my own finances, brave has an entirely new meaning.
Now being brave involves asking difficult questions of myself and sometimes facing hard truths. It can be uncomfortable to be honest about your finances, especially if they aren’t in the best of shape. However, by forcing myself to question my spending habits I can identify areas for improvement.
For me, the difficult thing has always been saying no fun. Not excessive fun, but going out for a drink or to eat type of fun. However, these add up quick and can destroy an otherwise solid budget.
I had to force myself to sit down and come up with a plan that would meet my financial goals while also allowing me to enjoy myself.
The follow up to this is being brave enough to tell friends and colleagues no when they want to go out every other day. That’s a word not too many people like to use, but it sure is critical when trying to manage money.
I hope you enjoyed this quick adventure through the Boy Scout Law. Looking back, I truly believe participating in the Scoutswas a very influential experience that continues to help me after all these years.
I never thought it would have an impact on my management of money, but it certainly has and in a very positive manner.
If you were in the Boy or Girl Scouts, did any of your experiences help shape how you manage your finances today?