Prevent This: Back-to-School Buyer’s Remorse

This post was originally published in 2016 as part of our “Prevent This” series, which is why it contains images of children not socially distancing. The interesting thing for us was how the content was still largely applicable – so we tweaked our opening and closing paragraphs and have re-issued it for BTS2020!

Back to School is arguably the most expensive time of year for families. How can you make sure you only spend what is necessary? By asking and answering the same two questions you did before the pandemic, and then ranking potential purchases from highest to lowest DIMS® (Does It Make Sense) Score.

If everyone in your family takes the hour or so required to answer the three below-noted questions, for all of the potential purchases on their BTS wish-list (it takes less than three minutes to calculate the DIMS Score), you cannot help but save time and money.

1) What do I already have? What still fits me and feels good? Do I have clothes that can be let-out or let-down? Can my shoes be re-soled? Are there any hand-me-downs from older siblings or cousins that can be worked into my wardrobe? Is my laptop/calculator, bike-lock, knapsack still in good working order? What should I give away, sell or discard?

2) What do I need to buy? What is the dress code at my school? Can I get from one weekend to the next without having to do laundry? Do I have location and/or weather specific wardrobe requirements? Am I going to a new school which requires every student to have Scientific Calculators, art-smocks, separate gym shoes…

3) Which items on my wish-list generate the highest DIMS (Does It Make Sense) Scores? Almost everyone will have more wish-list than back-to-school budget. By calculating the  DIMS® Score for every potential purchase, you can prioritize which items should be bought first. 10/10? Could be a “need”. 6/10? Sounds like a “want”.

Children aren’t thoughtless when they repeatedly ask their parents to buy them things, they are inexperienced. Putting some structure around back-to-school shopping helps them acquire the experience they need to be money-smarter. For most of 2020, they’ve been living in a world where the difference between wants and needs has never been easier to discuss.  So categorizing possible purchases under those two umbrellas shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. See how easy it is by clicking on the pink or green buttons below.


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