By Naomi Atwater

Have you heard of “Girl Math”? Lately, there’s been a trend on social media like Instagram and beyond talking about something called “Girl Math.”

It’s a series of humorous and satirical statements girls will say to their partner, dad, or someone else to explain their thinking about spending money, and the funny part is how the partner reacts, usually with exasperation about how it doesn’t make any sense. The girl will usually say some things like this:

If I buy plane tickets for a trip I’m going on this summer, by the time the trip comes, the plane tickets will be “free” because I already paid for them.

If I buy something with cash and not on my credit card, it’s “free” because I can’t see it on my statement.

If I return something to the store, I get to buy something to replace it because the money I get back from what I returned is “free” money.

If something I want at the store is on sale, I’m “wasting money” if I don’t buy it.

If I have money sitting in my Venmo account from the last time someone Venmoed me, it’s “free money” for me to spend.

And so much more. 

(See Explaining Girl Math to my Husband and Explaining Girl Math to my Dad.)

What if so many girls feel like they relate to “girl math” because we are thinking about money so much of our lives? And what if many of us feel guilty like we need to come up with little reasons to justify spending on anything that feels “frivolous” or a treat? 

The trend has warranted a big reaction on social media platforms, with girls (and guys!) relating to the concept of “girl math” to justify spending money. Obviously, these examples are ironic jokes that don’t remotely add up. But girls are also constantly finding real and creative ways to save money, spend wisely, and budget accordingly to have fun and make the most of our dollars!

Even if we joke about girl math, we can alleviate some of the stress we feel by “girl mathing” in a way that makes sense. Maybe girl math looks more like the following:

I will set aside money in my budget each month for this trip I’ve been planning and maybe try to use my travel credit card perks or airline credits to help pay for my flights so that I have more spending money when the trip comes.

I designate myself some money each month that I take out in cash and use as “fun money” that I can be more whimsical with. That way, I’m not spending more on my credit card than I mean to.

I want to make sure that the money I spend is actually on something I really need or want, so I’ll remember to return something to the store that I didn’t actually want and only use those funds to purchase something else.

I’m always watching for sales and know the best time to purchase specific items. I usually keep track of when my favorite stores have annual or seasonal sales and jump on them when they’re available! 

Though often confused that girl math is saying girls don’t know how to spend or save money. It’s usually more like the opposite: so many girls are so aware of the money they spend that they want to ensure it is within their means. What little tips and tricks are you using in your “Girl Math”?

Naomi lives in Pittsburgh, PA but her roots are from a little Christmas tree farm in upstate New York. She works in marketing for Greater Europe Mission, an international nonprofit organization. She’s always finding ways to make room in her budget for traveling and reads over 100 books each year.