DIMS – Does It Make Sense?® Scores Help Kids Develop Good Financial Defense

PROLOGUE: Alex Rodriguez might be a hero to some people because of his baseball career. Others may admire him for marrying Jennifer Lopez. While those of us at Gifting Sense certainly respect his three MLB MVP Awards and faith in the institution of marriage, what we really love about him is his latest venture, a reality television series on CNBC called Back in the Game. Why? Because A-Rod is using his skill and reach to help people recover from some of the very habits we are hoping to prevent today’s children from ever developing. We first published this blogpost way back in the fall of 2015 when immunizing children against developing poor spending habits was still a dream. As we head into Holiday 2019, we are thrilled to be able to add Mr. Rodriguez to our team, a group of citizens genuinely interested in giving others one of the best gifts ever – fundamental financial literacy.

Give yourself a treat, check out Back in the Game, and discover just some of the sobering reasons why it is so incredibly important to teach your kids to think before they buy while they are still living under your roof. This year, when family members bring you their holiday wish-list, take the pressure off everyone, don’t say “yes” or “no”, simply ask them to sharpen their pencils and calculate the DIMS® Score for each item on the list. You’ll receive thoughtfully preferred requests, and your family will receive something they can truly use the rest of their lives – some quick but meaningful financial education. And A-Rod, how about we conduct free and safe Gifting Sense workshops in every Boys and Girls Club across America in 2020?

Here is our original post:

To use a sports analogy, let’s describe financial offense as making money, which is what a lot of people focus on. Certainly many children dream of growing up to become a celebrity or professional athlete who earns a large salary. But strong financial defense, how you spend the money you make, is just as important. At Gifting Sense we help kids ask for birthday and holiday gifts that they will really use and appreciate. In other words – we help children, their families and friends develop good financial defense.

One of the ways we provide that help is by calculating a DIMS – Does It Make Sense?® Score for a potential gift. DIMS Scores ® can range from 1 (This gift probably doesn’t make sense…) to 10 (This gift might make a lot of sense…); they are automatically generated when children complete a Gifting Sense Gift Survey by answering ten to twelve questions about a potential purchase.

Those questions are on everything from where the item they are interested in was made, to whether or not it is a replacement for an item they have recently outgrown. A higher DIMS Score ® can be achieved, for example, by asking for an experience that will help a child acquire a skill (e.g. Music Camp); by asking for an item that comes from a local store (parents can drive there in 45 minutes or less); or by buying an item from a manufacturer with a customer-friendly warranty.

If financial offense is making money, then financial defense is how you spend the money you make. Quickly calculating the DIMS Score ® for a potential purchase helps kids practice good financial defense.

We started out suggesting that kids only ask for gifts that can generate a DIMS Score® of 8 or higher, but families have been establishing their own guidelines. Some allow for one gift a year that doesn’t generate a DIMS Score® of 8 or better. Others only allow kids to ask their grandparents for gifts that can generate a DIMS Score® of 9 or better. Of course the most important part is that children are being encouraged to more “thoughtfully prefer” holiday or birthday gifts, to think before, they ask to buy.

Does it ever make sense to buy an item with a lower DIMS Score®? Sure it does, and in fact who doesn’t occasionally buy items that make less sense? The trick is to call those purchases what they are: wants versus needs, and not to get into the habit of making too many of them. Search history to learn about sports figures and celebrities who made more money than the average family could ever hope to earn – but lost it all through poor financial defense. If someone had gifted them sense back when they were young, perhaps their financial track record would be very different today.

If any of this sounds interesting – ask your kids to “Get Started” with one of our Gift Surveys when thinking about what they might like to receive for their next holiday or birthday gift.  See for yourself how taking 2 minutes to answer 10-12 questions can lead to one of the best holidays your family has ever experienced – not to mention the beginning of developing good financial defense!

Originally published in November 2015. Prologue added November 2019.

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