Girl Scout Cookies Cost How Much?

file0001735194313It’s the end of January. Do you know what that means? No, it isn’t yet time to pay taxes, start Christmas shopping, or begin working on that tan for swimsuit season. It’s Girl Scout Cookie time! Yes, beginning this Sunday, those adorable, smiling Girl Scouts will be out with a vengeance. They will have the color coded order forms with those mouth watering pictures of our favorites, like Samoas, Thin Mints, and Tagalongs. I admit, I have loved Girl Scout Cookies for as long as I can remember. My Mom used to come home with a big bag of them every year around this time. You have to admit, the Girl Scouts know how to market, but of course, as a reformed spending addict, I have to ask, “Girl Scout Cookies cost how much?”

History of the Girl Scout Cookie

Girl Scouts started selling cookies as early as 1917 as a way to raise money. Through the years, the process has evolved. Currently there are two licensed bakers that produce a maximum of eight varieties of cookies each season. It is mandatory that three of the varieties are Trefoils, Do- Si -Do’s and my favorite, Thin Mints. Girl Scout Cookie season usually lasts about six weeks. After which the cookies go back in the vault like a Disney movie, and they are unavailable until the following year.

Flawless Marketing

The Girl Scouts do a wonderful job of marketing. If you think about it, it’s almost perfect.

  • Kids are selling the product-As I’ve said before, it is really hard to say no when a kid asks you to buy something.
  • Limited Availability-Cookies are only available for a limited time. We better stock up!
  • It’s For a Good Cause-We are often more willing to spend money if we feel like it goes to a good cause. Girl Scouts promote positive experiences and self esteem for girls. It’s hard to fault that.
  • Happy Marketing-Like Mrs. Frugal Rules pointed out, advertisers want you to buy an experience. When you see all those pictures of smiling girls having fun, it makes you think you might be happy too if you can have some of those cookies.
  • Perfect Time of Year- Waiting until the end of January is far enough after Christmas but well before the next major holiday. Also people who went on a diet are probably ready to cheat by this time or want a reward for eating twigs and berries for the last month.

How Much Do the Girl Scouts Make?

According to their website, for each box of cookies sold at $3.50/box, 70% goes to the local Girl Scout Council. I’m not an expert on the Girl Scout hierarchy, but from what I can gather, each council oversees several individual troops in their area. Each individual troop gets around $.60 per box sold. The remaining 30% goes to the bakers who produce the cookies. The bakers then pay a licensing fee to the Girl Scouts of America based on annual sales.

The Girl Scouts of America are the ones who control the licensing agreements for other deals. When you see a carton of Girl Scout’s Thin Mint Ice Cream, the national organization is getting the money for those products.

Considering that around 200 million boxes of Girl Scout Cookies are sold each year, that’s a pretty big chunk of change!

Will I be Buying Girl Scout Cookies This Year?

You all know I’m on a grocery budget, and I’m trying to make most sweet treats from scratch. I haven’t bought a box of cookies from the store in many months. If I were to buy a package of cookies, I certainly would not pay $3.50 for them off the store shelves.

For this purchase, like any other, I’ll have to ask if it reflects my values. Will it contribute to my overall health? Absolutely not. My metabolism stopped at age 35, so I’ll have to work extra hard to burn off any extra cookies. Will it contribute to my overall happiness and well being? Holy goodness yes, I love a Thin Mint more than any cookie. Maybe it is the fact that they are only available for a limited time or maybe it reminds me of happy childhood memories, but I’ll have to find something else to cut back on so that I can get my cookies. My daughter has learned to love the Samoas too, and good or bad, she expects me to have those in season.

Anyway you look at it , the Girl Scouts are a force to be reckoned with in fundraising. Maybe they are contributing to obesity in America. Maybe it is not fair to make children sell things to participate in an organization.  Whether you feel their reimbursement for their efforts is worth it or not, I bet lots of us will be buying Girl Scout Cookies this year.

Will you be buying Girl Scout Cookies? What is your favorite kind?


  1. I no longer eat cookies (ever) but we will probably buy a couple boxes for my husband as a treat. We usually buy from the kids of the admin assistants in our departments. I do want to support the Girl Scouts as I used to be one and it was a wonderful experience (except for cookie time).

  2. I will not be buying girl scout cookies. Thankfully no one in my office is aggressively marketing their kid’s cookies. No social pressure to buy coupled with the fact that I don’t buy sweets (I make them and eat them, just don’t buy them) means this year I’ll able to save a bit of money.
    My Financial Independence Journey recently posted..Achieving a 10% yield on cost in 10 yearsMy Profile

  3. I absolutely will be buying them! Samoas are my favorite by far.
    DC @ Young Adult Money recently posted..20 Giveaways for Friday – Freezing Cold EditionMy Profile

  4. I don’t buy them from parents, but when the girls come around selling I buy a box because I tend to think of it as helping teach a valuable community lesson.

    Lately schools groups around here have been changing their fundraising strategies from selling stuff to just standing in front of the grocery store asking for donations. It feels oddly like they’re teaching kids to panhandle and ask for handouts. In contrast, the girl scouts still teach that commerce can be beneficial to both parties. Girl Scouts make some money, and we get to eat a box of tasty cookies once/year. It makes me feel okay about spending on a box or two per year.
    Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies recently posted..$10 Off Gas… Not As Good A Deal As You ThinkMy Profile

    • It’s certainly hard to say no when you are obviously headed into the store to buy things. Not like you can say you have no money.

  5. I am pretty particular when it comes to my cookies, they would need to be pretty good for me to buy them over my stock standard ones I eat.
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  6. Thanks for the mention Kim! We love Samoas, but have not bought a box for several years. We really do not need the cookies in the house and I just can’t stomach the $3.50/box for like 8 cookies. Though, if we do end up putting our daughter in Girl Scouts, I imagine that’ll have to change. ;)
    John S @ Frugal Rules recently posted..Frugal Friday: Blog Posts That Ruled This Week, I Hate Being Sick EditionMy Profile

  7. Kim, this is a tough one. The Samoas and Thin Mints definitely rank as my faves, but, like you, with the stagnant metabolism and tight budget, we’ll probably say “no”. And I’ve got a great solution to the guilt part: Hubby has a niece who sells them, and so since we won’t be ordering ourselves, we just solicit my side of the family for her, earn her some extra sales she wouldn’t have gotten, and still keep our budgets and our backsides free of the Girl Scout Cookie Effect :-). It’s worked for two years for us now!
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  8. If my kids read this, the answer is a firm, “No, I will not buy any, so don’t check the pantry, lower shelf, on the right.”
    AverageJoe recently posted..When Diversification StinksMy Profile

    • That’s funny. Maybe they have some they hide from you as well! We hid all kinds of sweets from my dad growing up.

  9. I always feel bad about supporting one of my friend’s daughters but not other ones…so I always guilt myself into buying more than we need. However, we eat ALL of them and I love every second of it. lol. I’ll probably spend $30-40 or so. It’s one time a year and we hardly ever buy junk food so it doesn’t bother me too much. I love the thin mints and some of the peanut butter ones!
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  10. I already ordered like 10 boxes from W’s little sister. I can’t WAIT until they get here.
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  11. They allow local chapters to adjust pricing, and around here it’s gone up to $4 a box. I admire the cause and we usually buy a box or two every year, but not enough to break the bank. I love Thin Mints. They’re best served frozen :)
    Money Beagle recently posted..Eating Fresh Vegetables Has Gotten A Lot More CostlyMy Profile

  12. Oh my gosh, Thin Mints are my favorite!! I can’t resist them. You can’t eat just one of those things, you know. If left alone with a box of Thin Mints, they will be gone…in seconds :)
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  13. I had no idea the cookies were industrial! When I was a girl scout we bakes cookies and pies and sold them after mass on Sunday. The money was really good and it all stayed for the troop. Can you put them on your charity budget instead of grocery?
    Pauline recently posted..Friday recap, the city life and a root canalMy Profile

  14. Haven’t bought them in many years but use to love the chocolate ones.
    Tackling Our Debt recently posted..Developing Good Financial Habits in 5 Easy StepsMy Profile

  15. Thin Mints all the way for me. :-)
    Sean @ One Smart Dollar recently posted..How to Save Money on Tires in 2013My Profile

  16. My daughters are girl scouts and I’m troop leader, so girl scout cookies are a part of my life :D I love the organization and working with the girls to be entrepreneurs. A box of Thin Mints always seem to find a way into my kitchen. Possibly my belly too.
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  17. We buy a couple boxes. My sister was a 3rd generation girl scout and my grandmother founded the first girl scout troop in our county. So it is a fairly important organization to us. The troop may only get $.60/box but my sister’s troop used that money to pay for a cruise to Alaska!

    We eat Samoas and Tag-a-longs. I’m addicted to peanut butter!
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    • It sounds like the council uses their money for activities that benefit all the troops as well. I saw that there is a troop in Denver trying to sell a million boxes. Even at $.60, that’s a lot of money!

  18. I used to just scarf down some thin mints, but now I resist. I know my wife goes out and gets a few boxes and then places them in the freezer. My mom is obsessed with them. She buys like 12 boxes and doesn’t share.
    Grayson @ Debt Roundup recently posted..Weekly Personal Finance Blog RoundUp – 1/25/2013My Profile

  19. Since my daughter was a Girl Scout, I always support the Girl Scouts! My personal favorite is the Tagalongs.
    krantcents recently posted..Rich Man, Poor ManMy Profile

  20. I realllllly hope some kids come to my door, I have some change ready for them! I too love the mint thins. Mint+chocolate = heaven. I support the organization so I will buy a box or two for sure.
    Catherine recently posted..Weekly Reads 25.01.13My Profile

  21. I’ve always been surprised at the cost of these cookies but I’ve always bought them because I think it’s a great thing to support. I was a girl scout when I was a kid, so it’s my way of giving back.
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  22. I don’t think I’ve seen any for sale for the past few years! I wonder if this practice is dying out, at least in my area?
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  23. I have a family member who always orders me some through some lady in her office who has a daughter or something…I don’t know. I feel like the quality and quantity you get has been going down for years while the price has been going up. I had no idea about the break down per box. I appreciate that a lot.

    Last year I almost bought extras. I was walking into a store and there was a troop selling them. I told them I’d buy some on the way out. (Didn’t have cash on me yet.) They cried saying they were leaving right now. Oh, well. Didn’t change reality. I wasn’t going to give them my debit card number.

    I came out like and hour and a half later and they were STILL THERE. They were excited to see me coming out, but I told them I didn’t spend my money supporting liars. Overreaction? Probably. But seriously! They were so young and already trying to play me in order to get a sale.
    femmefrugality recently posted..Wish My Black Thumb LuckMy Profile

    • That is a horrible way to sell cookies. I hope their parents weren’t there egging them on. I usually buy from some of the girls who come into the office. I like the ones who show some motivation.

  24. MomofTwoPreciousGirls says:

    When the kids sell a the grocery store, I cannot resist them. I will buy thin mints in place of my normal snack purchase. I love them n the freezer! Even better is the group that stands in front of the Starbucks! How smart…snag people that are already paying $4 for a cup of coffee!

    I think it does teach important lessons to the children and since I plan on enrollng my daughters in the Girl Scouts when they are older, I will support them. Girl Scouts are all about community and give the girls a safe place to be. My husband was a Boy Scout and he believes wholeheartedly in the mission of these organizations. (Obviously he was there before all the recent controversies, but still loves them for what they taught him.)

    • I agree with the mission of the Girl Scouts. It certainly makes it easier to buy cookies than if they were raising that money for pageant dresses or something.

  25. I don’t have a huge sweet tooth so I don’t often buy cookies for fundraisers. I find that most of the time I get asked to buy Girl Scout cookies, it’s actually my colleagues who are trying to sell them on behalf of their kids. It’s a lot easier to say now to them!
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