Tuesday, May 8, 2012


It's been a while since my last BLOG.  I think we are all feeling the end of the year pinch!  I was waiting for something useful to pop up to talk about.  Thanks to Donna Teeter for supplying this topic.  
Keeping up with Girl Scout finances can be a real chore!  I have been at this for 4 years no, trying to find an ideal way to handle finances.  While it would be extremely "nice" to have a treasurer for both my troops, no one has offered their expertise and volunteered for the arduous task.  I was fortunate enough to have a treasurer the first year I led my oldest troop, but honestly having a treasurer created more work for me as a leader and I was less inclined to follow my finances closely.  Now that I have taken over finances for both troops I am super cost conscientious and I am better organized.  However, this did not happen overnight I have learned some very valuable lessons along the way.
Initially I had a very complex excel spreadsheet my Dad created for me on Google.  I liked the "idea" of the Google spreadsheet because I thought my co-leader could enter data as well, keeping me even more abreast of our finances.  However, she failed to use the spreadsheet because it was difficult to enter information and the program was persnickety and often erased valuable information.  So after 2 years of attempting to haggle with the program I gave in and decided to go a different route.  
Girl Scouts discourages the use of debit cards which in my mind is ridiculous.  There is no better way of organizing your finances than by using a debit card which can also be used as a credit card.  Girl Scouts will have to change their stance on this issue in the near future because the world is slowly, but surely becoming a paperless system.  I actually get funny looks when I use a check any more and my bank charges me for them.  You can spend a small, wasteful fortune each year on checks.  I cannot see one reason that the GS would not support debit cards.  Debit cards are just as easy to lose as a checkbook and I can just as easily misuse checks as I can a debit card.  
That being said I have 2 recommendations when using a debit card:  
1.)  Do not make internet purchases with a debit card and we all know at times we need to get supplies via the internet.  World Thinking Day is a big time when I rely on the internet for purchases.  I always use my personal credit card and reimburse myself.  Receipts become very important for keeping an accurate record of transactions.  Credit card numbers are hacked on the internet every day and making a purchase with the GS debit card would put your troop at risk.   I don't like the idea of reimbursing myself either because the paper trail leads back to me, but I am willing to go the extra mile to justify the expenses and keep accurate records.  I would prefer to keep our troop funds safe and sometimes internet purchases are unavoidable.  Unfortunately accounting can be messy, even though I wish it were straight forward!
 2.)  Ensure that your troop bank has a reasonable debit card protection program.  I bank with Frost and they will simply replace any disputed funds in the event my card is ever stolen or lost.  Despite the fact that Frost has a haggle free reimbursement program, I have resigned to the fact I am willing to replace funds to our account in the event any financial issues should arise.  I keep very detailed records and all my receipts from purchases are saved for at least one year so if for any reason I am audited by GS or a parent I can easily show where every dollar is spent.

How do I do this?  As I mentioned earlier this has been an evolution.   Here is my system and you may have something similar in place.  If you have any suggestions or tips, please by all means add your comment at the bottom.  Everyone will appreciate additional advise.  
First, all GS crafts and supplies are kept in my garage in a shelving unit.  Each troop has a large shelf and my supplies are kept in bins labeled with its contents.  All office items like books, resources, CDs, patches, photos etc. are stored safely inside in my coat closet.  90% of my paperwork is stored permanently in files on my computer for easy access.  Some paper work I keep organized in files in colored folders in a small plastic portable file box.  Each troop has a small clipboard hanging on the wall and I IMMEDIATELY clip all receipts from purchases I have made to the clipboard.  I tend to leave the receipts in the bag with my purchases, so when I return home and go through my craft items I can clip the receipt to the clipboard and the receipts will not get confused with my personal purchases or my other troop.  Every month or so I PRINT a bank statement from my on-line bank web site and check off each receipt and write a small note on both the receipt and statement regarding the purchase like:
Micheals:  $35.67  (foam brushes, paint, glue)
I also make notations next to each check I have written.  I highly recommended you invest in the checks that have a carbon copy back.  This has saved me several times when I have forgotten why or who I wrote a check too.
Once I have accounted for each receipt and purchase I staple or paperclip all receipts and bank withdrawals/deposit slips for that month to the statement.
Finally, I place the monthly statements in order in a folder labeled Troop #4005 Financial Records and return to the file box.  

While excel sheets can be quite useful in accounting, I find there is nothing that substitutes good old fashion pen to paper which is why I print out my statements and hand write in my purchases and check off my receipts.  When I kept an excel sheet I was doing twice the work.  

Keeping up with this task is key to organization!  Also when the GS Financial Reports roll around I can easily sit down and complete the paperwork.  I always keep last year's records for one full year which is important when you fill out the GS Financial Report so you can have last year's final budget tally to enter in Block A!

If you have a small troop you may not need an extensive system like I use, but managing 2 LARGE troops has forced me to become very organized and efficient when it comes to troop finances.  Once again comments, tips and advise are truly welcomed!  Feel free to add your 2 cents! 

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