Girl math doesn’t refer to calculations exclusively performed by ladies. It’s the latest trend to go viral on TikTok that describes a particular way of budgeting on splurge items.
If you’re on the app, there’s no way you haven’t seen at least one video discussing girl math by now. Content creators and run-of-the-mill users jump on the chance to use the same viral songs and popular hashtags ad nauseam until the next trend emerges. But even people who aren’t on the app may have read or heard about it, as girl math spreads like wildfire through popular culture.
On the surface, girl math is a tongue-in-cheek way of rationalizing splurge spending on fun items like clothes, coffee, and vacations. However, it can justify poor financial decisions that set your budget up for failure.
Indulging in life’s pleasures is important for your mental health, but it’s crucial you have a strong financial foundation before diving headfirst into this trend. Let’s get into what girl math really means, the potential dangers it poses, and how you can adopt it while prioritizing your financial health.
What is Girl Math?
Girl math is a term that describes the way young women justify spending their money on non-essential expenses. It often uses unusual mental arithmetic to make this extra spending seem okay in the long run.
“Girl math” is the art of justifying unnecessary splurge spending by convincing oneself that it’s a reward, a morale booster, or something that won’t make a significant dent in one’s overall budget. This trend has gained popularity thanks to platforms like TikTok, where users share their creative ways of justifying splurges.
While the term earned notoriety on TikTok, it was first coined by a call-in podcast from New Zealand called “Fletch, Vaughan & Hayley.”
During these calls, the hosts justify big-ticket spending (think a $1,000 handbag) by calculating its cost-per-use. If you carry this bag around every day for a year, girl math tells you it’s roughly $2.74 a day — or less the longer you keep it. That’s practically a steal. Or, in the case of items purchased on sale, the hosts would focus on the money saved by grabbing the item on discount — not the money spent.
Let’s head to TikTok now for a more practical definition of this latest trend. Here’s how a personal finance account called @mixedupmoney calculates money:
“If the Starbucks app is loaded, the coffee is free. If my favourite store is having a sale, I have to buy something, otherwise I’m losing money. Cash is not real money; if I buy something with cash, it is free.”
Other examples of girl math include returning items is making money. The theory is that your budget has already lost that money when you purchased the item in question. Getting that money back is like a windfall.
Despite its name, it’s not just a “girl” thing. Everybody is guilty of these excuses every once in a while, reaching for increasingly thin ways to rationalize why they bought those new sneakers, paid extra for Postmates, or splurged on a pricey Airbnb.
The Dangers of Overindulgence:
Embracing girl math without understanding the risk can lead to several financial pitfalls. For one thing, you can easily justify overspending, wasting money you need for the essentials. You might put purchases on credit, wracking up unnecessary debt and jeopardizing your financial future.
For another thing, it can distort your financial goals. When you’re hyper-focused on daily treats and experiences, you can lose sight of your long-term goals, such as saving for emergencies or retirement.
Lastly, this trend undermines the idea of financial responsibility, hindering your ability to make sound money decisions.
Can You Perform Girl Math Safely?
Yes, you can try your hand at girl math without worrying about ruining your finances. All good budgets are based on the idea of balance, so you can afford the essentials and a few non-essentials.
The key word here is “few”. When used in moderation, girl math is a cheeky way to indulge in things you like and can afford. However, it’s essential to do so responsibly. Here are some steps to perform girl math without compromising your financial health:
1. Establish a Budget
A budget is your financial roadmap. It helps allocate funds for essentials, savings, and even splurges. In fact, according to the popular 50/30/20 budget, you should allocate a whopping 30 percent of your take-home pay for non-essential fun spending.
However, it’s important to note that 50 percent of your income covers rent, bills, online loan payments, and other essentials. Another 20 percent goes to savings. Categorize your expenses and allocate a specific portion of your income to non-essential spending. This way, you can enjoy treats guilt-free without jeopardizing your financial stability.
2. Prioritize Saving
Before you commit to spending money on luxuries, you should have a solid emergency fund. Experts recommend working towards saving three to six months of living expenses in this account. This ample cushion provides a safety net for unexpected financial expenses that you didn’t think to include in your budget. This way, you can tap into these emergency savings to cover the expense before cancelling the fun stuff.
An emergency fund is a short-term savings account. For larger goals like buying a home or retiring, you should contribute regularly to high-yield savings accounts and retirement funds to secure your financial future.
3. Prepare for Emergencies
There may come a time when your savings aren’t enough. You may need to take your pet to the vet before you manage to save up enough. Or you may have to replace your car’s battery after you drained your emergency fund on another expense.
cash-strapped individuals rely on credit cards and lines of credit to stand in for lukewarm savings. Having a backup plan in these accounts can help you keep your cool while you handle your unexpected expenses. Many
You can find out how to qualify for a personal line of credit by visiting a lender like Fora. Check out the website Foracredit.ca to learn what you need before you fill out an application. This is also a good opportunity to find out the rates and terms of a line of credit, should you be approved.
4. Separate Wants from Needs
Before making a splurge purchase, ask yourself if it’s something that will truly bring you joy. Separate wants from needs and evaluate how the purchase fits into your overall financial picture. If it aligns with your goals and doesn’t compromise essentials, go ahead and enjoy it.
5. Monitor Your Spending
Regularly track your spending to stay accountable. Use a budgeting app or Excel spreadsheet to monitor your progress and make adjustments as needed. If you notice your splurges are outweighing your essentials, it’s time to reassess your priorities.
Crunch Girl Math Wisely
Girl math can be a fun trend, but it’s essential to approach it with caution. By establishing a solid financial foundation, setting realistic goals, and practicing responsible spending, you can safely enjoy life’s pleasures without compromising your financial health. Remember, while it’s okay to treat yourself, it’s equally important to ensure your financial well-being remains a top priority.