Skip to content

My Favourite Cartoon Character Dora Essay Contest

Ok, so I’m about to alienate all readers who don’t have kids right now – but hang tight for a second!

If you stick with me here, I think you’ll find some valuable lessons in personal financial planning.

We can all use some guidance when it comes to personal finances and getting a handle on our money.

It just so happens that my daughter’s favorite cartoon character, Dora the Explorer, can be a pretty good personal financial planning guide.

So let’s turn to Dora and find out her 5 things we need to know about personal financial planning!

Personal Financial Planning Tip #1: You Need a Specific Target

For those familiar with the show you’ll know that Dora’s always on an adventure.

She always needs to get somewhere to help someone or make it to a birthday party etc.

Dora always has a specific goal she is trying to reach.

We need the same thing when it comes to personal financial planning.

If you don’t know what you’re aiming for – whether it’s retirement, opening a Roth IRA, debt-freedom, a new house, college savings or something else – then you’ll never reach your goals!

Question: Do you have specific and targeted goals?

Personal Financial Planning Tip #2 – You Need a Plan

In order to get where she needs to go, Dora enlists the help of Map!  Yeah, a not-so-clever of a name, but hey the target audience of the show is young kids – give ’em a break!

Anyways, Map comes on to the scene and shows Dora how to get from point A to point B.  He tells her where she needs to go and what to watch out for.

A personal financial plan or a tool like this Credit Card Payoff Calculator will lay out exactly what you need to do and when so that you can get to where you want to go!

Question: Do you have a personal financial plan?

Personal Financial Planning Tip #3 – You Need to Be Prepared

Inevitably in the show, Dora runs across some sort of challenge and she needs to use some tools or items to help.

But guess what, Dora is prepared!  She always wears her trusty Backpack!

Backpack comes in, sings his little song and then opens up to reveal all kinds of tools at Dora’s disposal to help her stay on track!

We need to be prepared for the “What Ifs” in life.

We need to have emergency funds, we should really have the proper amount of insurance, and of course, we should really spend some time thinking about things you shouldn’t be caught dead without!

Question: Are you prepared for life’s “What Ifs”?

Don’t miss another post!  Get Redeeming Riches delivered straight to your inbox!

Personal Financial Planning Tip #4 – You Need Friends to Help You in Your Journey

Dora’s got lots of friends!  And they are all willing to help her out.

This is extremely important, especially when you are on a long and difficult journey like climbing out of credit card debt!

Any time we’re trying to reach our goals, we’ll be tempted to lose focus or just plain quit!

This is where accountability and friendship come in to play.  Enlist the help of someone who won’t be afraid to challenge you and keep you accountable to your goals.

If you don’t share your goals with anyone, you are less likely to reach them.  Get by with a little help from your friends!

Question: Do you have people who can help you in the journey?

Personal Financial Planning Tip #5 – Identify and Get Rid of the Swipers!

If you’ve never seen the show, Swiper the Fox always makes an appearance!

He loves to knock Dora and her friends off track, take something that doesn’t belong to Him or just plain mess up the adventure.

Dora and her friends get rid of Swiper by yelling, “Swiper, no swiping! Swiper, no swiping!” and eventually if they say it soon enough he leaves!

I guarantee you that you WILL have Swipers that come to knock you off track!

It might be in the form of a new outfit calling your name, a new car that is begging you to buy it or it might just be your credit cards that missed being swiped!

Swiper might even be you!!!

Be ready to say, “Swiper, no swiping” to yourself!!

Question: Do you get rid of the temptations that throw you off track?

Readers, what other tips do you have?

What tip has helped you the most in your personal financial planning journey?

Google+ Comments

Tagged as: dora the explorer, Dora the Explorer's Money Tips, handling money, Personal Finance, personal financial plan, personal financial planning

by Jill Williamson

Like it or not, formulas can work very well. The trick is to know how to twist the plot so that the formula’s cliché isn't recognizable. That’s not the case with the children’s cartoon Dora the Explorer. My kids both loved watching Dora, so I've seen dozens of episodes, and it’s the same thing every time.

But it has a lesson to offer writers, and I wanted to share it with you. The plot of each Dora the Explorer episode offers the perfect quest formula. Let’s take a look and see why in this episode called Treasure Island.

Beginning: Meet the cast

At the start of every episode, we meet Dora and her friend Boots the Monkey, who is her trusty sidekick. We also meet another guest character, a different one each time. In this example, we meet Pirate Parrot.

Inciting incident

In meeting the guest character, Dora encounters a problem or opportunity—a quest which requires her to travel to a location to meet her new goal. In the Treasure Island episode, Pirate Parrot asks Dora if she’s heard of the blue key. Dora and Boots decide to look for the blue key, which happens to be in a tree branch above their heads. Now that they have the key, they’re ready for adventure!

The map 

The map lays out the journey

In every episode of Dora the Explorer, before they start their adventure, Dora calls for her map. Her words to the viewer? “Who do we ask for help when we don’t know which way to go? The map. That’s right.”

The map states the story goal: find the treasure chest, which is on Treasure Island. The map also tells the viewer how to get there: First you have to go past the lookout tree, then across Crocodile Lake, then you’ll get to Treasure Island. The actual map is on the screen and shows each location clearly. This sets out the coming journey clearly for the viewer. We know what we’re in for!

Dora and Boots repeat the quest agenda: “Tree, lake, Treasure Island!” And off they go. And this is the Climax of act one. Dora makes her choice to accept the quest and the journey begins. As they go, they sing a song that repeats the quest agenda: “Tree, lake, Treasure Island! Where are we going? Treasure Island!”


The first obstacle in any Dora episode is Swiper the Fox. He always tries to steal whatever object Dora needs for the end of her journey. In this case, it’s the blue key. But Swiper always fails his first attempt.

Dora and Boots make it to their first map destination, Lookout Tree, but they've got to get past the icky sticky mud. They use the plank and succeed. Then they make it to their second destination, Crocodile Lake, but how with they get across? Their old friend Pirate Parrot shows up with a boat. Sweet!

Midpoint and a big twist

But as they’re going across Crocodile Lake on the boat, here come the crocodiles. Dora, who always knows what to do, tells the viewer that they need to sing to the crocodiles. They sing. But one Is getting closer. So they sing louder. And now the crocs are dancing. Excellent. Dora, Boots, and the Pirate Parrot get away. Whew! That was a close one.

Another obstacle

Now they've made it to the third destination on their map: Treasure Island. But Pirate Parrot tells them that only Pirate Pig knows where the treasure is. So off they go on a search for Pirate Pig.


Swiper steals the key!

They find Pirate Pig and give him the key. They are so close to achieving their goal! But guess who shows up? Swiper the Fox. And he steals the key and hides it.

Climax of act two

Dora, Boots, Pirate Parrot, and Pirate Pig work together to find the key in the village.

Climax of act three

Pirate Pig tells them where he buried the treasure, but he needs help to find it. Dora and Boots help dig. They find the treasure and sing, “We did it!” Go team.

Wrap-up and end

Our heroes enjoy contents of treasure chest. They reminisce over the long journey it took to get to this place. Dora and Boots each recount their favorite part of the adventure.

And that’s that.

Things to note

Dora always reviews

1. Dora always states her story goal/agenda from the start of each episode.

2. Dora always gives us (the viewer) the map, so we know where we’re going.

3. Dora reviews her goals and the next step throughout the story, which gives us (the viewer) a sense of how far Dora has come and how much farther she has to go.

4. All of this together gives us (the viewer) a sense of adventure and movement.

Types of quests

There are a few reoccurring types of quests that we see again and again in stories.

1. Finding something (stolen, lost, necessary, or valuable—check character motive as to why he or she is setting out to find this thing. Is he looking to save his people? Get rich? Earn honor? Save his land?)

2. Rescuing those who were lost or taken

3. Capturing a foe

4. Conquering an opposition

Well, we got to the end of this blog post. We did it! Hooray! *Jill sings and dances* LOL

Thoughts on this concept? Do you see how you could pull out the formula elements and plug in a National Treasure or Lord of the Rings-type plot? Try it.

Next time you get stuck babysitting and have to watch a children’s show, look at it as an assignment from me. See if you can find it’s formula and recognize why it works so well.