Girl Math: Why Your Wallet Isn’t a Fan

by Spero Financial

Financial Coaching icon

If you’ve been on social media or been around anyone who has over the last six months, you’re probably familiar with the term “girl math”. Whether you love seeing the videos of people explaining their logic behind “girl math”, can’t understand it, or have never heard of the term before— we’re here to offer a different perspective and even address some of the dangers associated with the fun trend!  

For the record, we did not come up with the term “girl math”. It was created by TikTok users, and as it became “all the trend” the term stuck. (A new trend is brewing around “boy math” .... but more on that in another article!) The original intent of “girl math” was all fun and elicited humor. But while some took offense to the gender stereotype, others took it as sound financial advice. 

By the end of this article, we hope you’ll have laughed at the humor associated with the topic, understood the idea behind “girl math”, and maybe even taken away a few warning signs to ensure it is not taken too seriously. 

Forbes explains “girl math” as “an invested set of ‘rules’ that women supposedly keep to when justifying impulse spending.” These set of rules were coined by a TikTok user when she shared a video of a shopping trip and how she jokingly justified her purchases. 

Examples include: 

  • An item priced at $3.95, only costs $3. 
  • Anything under $5 feels free. 
  • Returning a $50 item and then spending $100 really only counts as spending $50. 
  • Cash is not real money. 
  • Buying on sale really means you’re saving money. 
  • Not spending today means you double your spending budget for tomorrow. 

While the jokes are made in good fun and some of them can make sense in the right context, the idea often works to justify unnecessary purchases and bad spending habits. Let's shed light on ways these thought patterns can be damaging to our finances and ways to still participate in the humor while choosing to be more intentional with our money. 

We enjoy the joke just as much as the next person and even find ourselves doing a bit of “girl math” from time to time. But there are a few ways that the idea can be taken a bit too far and truly impact our wallets and budgets:

Whether consciously or subconsciously, if we take “girl math” too seriously, it may impact our wallets by encouraging overspending and overconsumption of unnecessary purchases. While it could make sense in some cases to do a little “girl math” when it comes to qualifying for free shipping, in other cases, it might not make sense at all - for example if regular shipping costs $5 but you need to spend another $50 to qualify for free shipping. “Girl math” can also help justify purchases that we weren’t planning on making in the first place, especially if it’s a sale that “we just can’t pass up!”  

To challenge overspending, consider delaying the purchase you are planning to make. Our culture has primed us for instant gratification – while not always bad, when shopping, this norm often fuels overconsumption (aka impulse shopping). This especially rings true if FOMO creeps in... We see something and must have it to avoid missing out. There’s a reason why companies promote “limited time offers”. It feeds FOMO, and often without considering if we really need the product or even want it, we hit purchase! 

So, our advice, simply give yourself time to think! Do you need it? Can you live without it? How will this impact my future goals? If you’re still thinking about it a week later, reconsider the purchase.

While not universal, there has been some talk that taking "girl math” too seriously may not only impact budgets but actual credit. To keep up with the desire to spend, some have allowed overspending to trickle onto their credit cards. This can become a slippery slope if we don’t have the full understanding of the long-term impacts of accumulating credit and the impacts on our future goals. Conversely to what some TikTok users believe, credit cards are not free money.  

If you find yourself using your credit card for unnecessary or impulse purchases and cannot pay off the balance each month, we encourage you to look at your spending habits and possibly restructuring them to become more sustainable.

"Girl math” is intended to be a joke – nothing more! While we don’t want to blow a joke out of proportion, there are some real ways that people are using “girl math” to justify unhealthy financial habits. So, laugh at the humor but be aware of the ways it could creep into reality in your own life. Doing so will help you avoid the financial pitfalls and unhealthy patterns that may accompany it.

Find Financial Freedom Through Better Banking.

Join today, and start enjoying all the benefits of membership!