We Love This Woman’s Work

As many of you know, the Gifting Sense project has been championing giving kids the powerful habit of thinking before buying for a long time now. So try to imagine our sheer delight when a series of brief TED Talks entitled “Your Money And Your Mind” narrated by, and based upon the work of, behavioural scientist Dr. Wendy De La Rosa was brought to our attention. (You can watch all of them in about 30 minutes.) You see Dr. De La Rosa doesn’t believe we can teach financial insecurity away. Her research concludes that people need to be able to change their environments, so that they can consistently make decisions that support what they already know about money: that you can’t spend more than you earn. And changing a child’s spending environment is exactly what we do when we ask them to calculate the DIMS (Does It Make Sense?) Score for a possible purchase before it is made.

DIMS Scores® are the “speed bumps” young consumers need in today’s digital world – to drive their personal finance vehicles safely – to slow down the speed at which consumer decisions are made. They help young people experience thinking before buying in a concrete but engaging versus “school of hard knocks” (SHK) way; the latter can also be effective but typically involves a serious bout of buyer’s remorse. We believe we can give children money comfort and skills without a visit to the SHK!

Dr. De La Rosa believes we need to turn what we already know about money into how we live by changing our environment, which is exactly what we do when we ask children to calculate the DIMS (Does It Make Sense?) Score for a possible purchase before it is made.

There is so much good information in her mini-talks, we really hope you’ll make the mini-investment of time required to watch them. One suggestion we really like is the “frequency budget” for people who are looking to cut down on take-away meals; because counting the number of times you eat out each week is a lot easier than managing the dollar amount spent on each meal. The series finale discusses the benefit of using a vacation day to look after personal finance tasks (like paying off debt with each pay-check, versus monthly, or redesigning your online environment to avoid being constantly invited to spend). Dr. De La Rosa actually compares this “financial health day” to a day at a spa, because you can feel so good at the end of it. She even encourages employers to provide time in the benefits calendar for such a day.

Try implementing a “frequency budget” versus a dollar amount budget for expenses like eating out. It’s much easier to calculate and understand you only have one or two meals left in your take-away allowance for the week, then say $37.00.

The next time a child asks you for something, instead of just quickly saying yes or no, consider asking them to calculate the DIMS Score for the item or experience in question. You’ll end up having one of the conversations about money we all need to have with our spouses, friends and children, to normalize scarcity and saving, according to Dr. De La Rosa, our new favourite lifestyle physician. We don’t know exactly how Wendy will feel about our describing her as such (a “lifestyle physician”) but certainly it is meant to be high praise. The relationship between personal financial health and an individual’s overall well-being are understood now more than ever. So anyone who helps others reduce financial stress is operating within some branch of the wellness world, and more spending decisions are driven by lifestyle preferences than most of us want to admit.

On International Women’s Day, we salute Dr. De La Rosa, and the reader who texted us the link to her work! They immediately understood the connection between Dr. De La Rosa’s research, our workshops, and our bold but achievable dream: that one day soon young adults everywhere will be thanking their parents for having taught them about money, versus vocally wishing out-loud on various social media platforms, that those lessons had taken place. To learn how, click on the pink or green buttons below.


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