Four Fridays of Fun-damental Financial Literacy

November is Financial Literacy Month in Canada (it’s April in the United States) and this year its’ first Friday lands at the end of the week after Halloween. This is terrific news because when educators asked us for more than a one-time workshop, we built the four-session curriculum you see below;  it is perfect for delivery on the four Friday afternoons of November 2020.

Let’s illustrate to young people everywhere, that thinking before buying does NOT mean that you never get to purchase anything fun (a want versus a need), it just means that you plan purchases in order to avoid buyer’s remorse and help protect the planet. Here is how we might structure four fun Friday afternoons, in a classroom, online, or around the kitchen table, to help young people understand the awesome power of thinking before buying:

Week One: Recalling Buyer’s Remorse

1) Parents and their children, or teachers and their students, can begin the discussion about the importance of thinking before buying by sharing some of their more memorable buyer’s remorse war-stories. We’ve never met anyone who doesn’t have at least once purchase they regret…orange pants that fit great, but you know, they were orange and so never got worn…

2) Discuss that our loved ones obviously do not set out to waste their time or money on purchases that end up being under-appreciated. Doesn’t paving the road to hell with good intentions happen more during the holidays every year, than at any other time?

3) Introduce DIMS (Does It Make Sense?) Scores as a way to avoid future buyer’s remorse. Our digital worksheets impose just enough structure (…it costs how much?) and remove just enough emotion (there’s no fear of missing out when you realize you won’t actually wear the orange pants that often…) to easily but effectively guide children to only ask for items or experiences they will really use and/or appreciate.

4) Practice calculating a DIMS SCORE® by pressing the DIMS SCORE® Calculator button at Uploading an image of a potential purchase really adds to the finished product (a shareable pdf summary of all the math and thinking a child has completed) but can be mildly problematic for younger children, or with older computers, so getting your first try out of the way sets the path for Week Two.

5) Distribute the Gifting Sense Glossary. You know what Sales Tax and Warranties are – but do your kids? Download our glossary to ensure that everyone understands the basic components of wise spending.

Week Two: “All Purchases Are Not Created Equal”

1) Calculate the DIMS SCORE® for an item, and then for an experience, to establish that different types of purchases require different considerations.

2) Discuss the different factors that add to the cost of an experience versus an item. For example, the cost of items can be materially increased by sales tax, shipping and duty; the cost of experiences can be materially increased by service fees, safe travel, and even food costs if the venue in question does not allow outside food.

3) Research the online purchase of an item whose cost is doubled by the addition of sales tax, shipping and duty. Kids often see t-shirts for example that are “…only $15.00…” but end up costing more than twice that much by the time they land on your doorstep.

Thinking before buying doesn’t mean you never get to buy a want versus a need – it just helps you plan purchases and more importantly – avoid buyer’s remorse!

In the second half of the month, we start to really empower kids by showing them how much more traction a thoughtfully preferred request can get, versus it’s careless brethren, the dreaded last minute “Mom, Can I…?”

Week Three: Imagine Having “Carte Blanche” and Discuss Opportunity Cost

1) Have your kids calculate the DIMS® Score for five items or experiences they would like to buy if money were no object!

2) Then have them force-rank their “dream purchases”, from highest to lowest DIMS SCORE®.

3) Are they surprised by either the calculated DIMS SCOREs, or their ranking? Why?

4) Now ask them to calculate how many smaller regular purchases (such as a weekly milkshake, or pizza) they would have to forgo to be able to afford their “dream” purchase. Are those designer jeans worth a semester without pizza? Encourage a discussion about the opportunity cost of a larger purchase in terms of the sacrifices required to afford it. Point out that this exercise is one their parents engage in every month when they are deciding where and when to spend (or save) any money that may be left over after regularly occurring household expenses have been met.


We have been shocked to discover how many children ask for holiday or birthday gifts without having any idea at all how much they actually cost. They don’t do this because they are thoughtless – they do it because they are inexperienced. This is why it is so important to help children gain experience thinking before buying. Better to buy the wrong sweater, then the wrong vehicle!

Week Four: Practice Succeeding!

1) In a classroom, divide students into pairs. At home, if you have multiple children, you can do the same. Have an only child? Ask them to act out both scenarios. The goal here is to role play a discussion with parents where kids make a request the right way – and the wrong way!

One child should (unsuccessfully) demand an item or experience from their parents, while the other prepares to have a well-thought-out discussion – by calculating the DIMS SCORE® for a possible purchase and sharing the pdf summary of all the math and thinking they have completed to graciously make a request that might make sense.

2) How does it feel to be asked for a thoughtfully-preferred gift, versus one that is not? Have you ever asked for something without even knowing it’s price, little own the delivered-on-time cost? Have you ever asked to attend an event without knowing the ticket price, what that includes, or if there is a safe way to get there and back? Have you ever considered what you may not be able to have tomorrow, if you buy something today? Have you ever personally witnessed an under-utilized purchase (or gift) end up going into the trash?

3) Remind students that they are setting themselves up for success when they “sharpen their pencils” and calculate the DIMS SCORE, before they ask their parents to help them get something. You can underscore the importance of this lesson by ordering a free Gifting Sense pencil for every young person in your life. It has “What’s the DIMS SCORE?” printed right on its’ side.

Of course, you don’t have to spread these lessons out over four weeks; you can take four afternoons or evenings in any week between now and the end of the year to help the young people you are responsible for become money-smarter.

Sound interesting? We certainly hope so! Visit the Teacher Tab or Virtual Café to learn about more ways you can give the young people in your life what has to be the most compelling gift of 2020: fundamental financial literacy.

Got an idea for an article? Let us know!

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.