As Labour Day and “back-to-school” approach, so too do battle cries for school supplies, new clothes and sports equipment. The average family reportedly spends over $600 getting ready for school. What is the best way to spend that money? There are no universal guidelines or for that matter, magic wands to wave so children ask for less. However one thing we do know, is that kids are the most interested in learning about money, when they want some. For that reason, “back-to-school” is perhaps the best time of all to introduce your family to DIMS (Does It Make Sense) Scores, the quickly calculated number between 1 and 10 that helps parents teach their kids to think before they buy.
Some of the best advice we have heard regarding back-to-school shopping is as follows:
Be wary of buying too much too early, because tastes and preferences can be swayed in September when the tastes and preferences of classmates become apparent. September is traditionally warm enough to continue wearing summer clothes for at least a couple of weeks.
Check with your children’s teachers before buying every single item on a supply list (unless it was issued by the teacher). Individual teachers often tailor their classes, for example making use of e-books versus hardcopies, and downloadable printables versus workbooks.
Suggest your kids use online window-shopping (the modern equivalent to the Sears catalogue we all flocked to in the 1970’s) to build their list for an upcoming trip to the mall. Studies show that people with shopping lists spend on average 25% less than those without a plan.
Back-to-School wish lists can be endless and expensive. Consider pushing some back-to-school purchases forward to holiday shopping. Imagine spending less for September and experiencing the best December ever because your kids have learned to only ask for items they will really use and appreciate?
However, the real trick to careful spending is being able to separate needs from wants, and DIMS (Does It Make Sense) Scores help kids do just that. Gift Surveys ask kids all the questions parents normally want answered before agreeing to spend money. They take about two minutes to complete, collect no personal information and automatically generate a number from 1-10 which helps children understand if a potential purchase is more of a want (1-6) or a need (7-10). As you have read here before, we call that number a DIMS Score®, and parenting experts have told us that it is changing the conversations families are having about money.
Do you need new soccer cleats to try out for the school team? Can you sell your old laptop to help pay for a new one? How many times will you wear those pink suede shoes? Can a younger sibling or cousin use your old bicycle? What is the warranty on the triple-zipper backpack? When kids are given power over their own decision making by being allowed to answer these questions and formulate a back-to-school list that makes the most sense for the entire family, they not only learn how to be savvy consumers, they learn about the power of forward planning!
Consider making back-to-school shopping primarily about meeting needs, whereas holiday and birthday gift shopping can be more about satisfying wants.
Have you dreamt of a Christmas or Hanukah that is more about getting together with the people your family cares about than who got what? You can lay the foundation for that dream scenario right now, simply by asking your kids “What’s the DIMS Score?” for each of their back-to-school wish-list items. You’ll be teaching them how to research if a request makes sense and then how to graciously ask for something if it does. Back-to-school shopping can be primarily about meeting needs. Holiday and birthday shopping can be more about satisfying wants. DIMS Scores® help families ensure that every kind of shopping is done in a way that respects everybody’s time, money and preferences.
If you don’t believe you can spend more carefully right now, but also end up experiencing the most peaceful December ever, click on the pink or green buttons below and see for yourself how easy it can be to make this school year one of the best and most cost-effective ever.
To encourage you to do so, we are giving a $25.00 Amazon.com Gift Certificate to the author of the best “How My Kids Saved Money This Fall” story. The winning entry will be published in celebration of our second anniversary on November 15th, 2017. Submissions should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org by midnight on November 1st, 2017 with the subject line: “How DIMS Scores® work in our family”. It’s one more small way that spending wisely in September can make for better future Decembers!