I was sitting at the dinner table with my teenage daughters, and they started explaining “girl math” to me. And then pulled up a video that goes through several different scenarios involving girl math – which is both hysterical and a little disturbing.
Thank God that I’ve taught them well enough along the way that they realize how absurd this video is and thank God that they have good enough senses of humor to see how much of a rise they can get out of me without pushing me truly over the edge.
However, it occurred to me that this video may be just what people need to bring to light our flawed thinking when it comes to spending. I’m pretty sure that given the opportunity, my daughters could justify just about anything – most people can, no matter your gender if it’s something you want badly enough.
While I encourage you to watch the video to get a real sense of the absurdity (and to see if any of it resonates with you), here are a few of the examples of girl math that just don’t fly with me as a financial advisor (or parent).
Anything under $5 feels like it’s free.
When I am working with people, it usually isn’t the big things that are preventing them from hitting their goals – it’s the little things that they are doing day in and day out that add up to a lot. So, if you are spending just $5 per day on something, that actually comes to $1,825 per year. That doesn’t sound free to me. If you are purchasing two five-dollar items a day, you are actually spending $3,650 per year. That really doesn’t sound free to me!
I returned something for $50 and bought something for $100, but that means I only spent $50.
You can’t forget that you spent the initial $50! What if instead, you got the $50 back from the store and deposited in your bank account? Then you would actually have $50 in your bank account.
If the Starbucks app is loaded then it’s free.
This is the classic sunk cost mentality. I’ve already spent the money, so it isn’t really costing me anything….except having the money to spend in the future!
While the term is “girl math” what it really boils down to is bad budgeting.
Again, I know this video is funny and I don’t mean to take the fun out of it. So, let’s look at ways you can still have fun with your money – without sacrificing your credit, future, and sanity.
- Create a Vision Board: Design a visual representation of your financial goals and place it in a prominent location where you can see it every day.
- Use Colorful Budget Categories: Assign different colors to your budget categories or use colored markers or pens when tracking expenses. This can make your budget more visually appealing and engaging.
- Monthly "No-Spend" Challenges: Set aside one or more months in the year for "no-spend" challenges. During these months, try to limit spending on non-essential items to zero or a minimal amount.
- Budgeting with a Friend: Make budgeting a social activity by involving a friend or family member. You can share your progress, offer each other support, and even compete to see who can save the most.
- Automate Your Savings: Set up automatic transfers to your savings account on your payday. It's a hands-off way to ensure that you're consistently saving without even thinking about it.
While I don’t agree with girl math, I do like that this video has women talking about their money. I’m just hoping that when they hear their reasoning out loud, they realize that they might want to make some changes.