14 May

The thinking and justification behind ‘Girl Math’

Thanks to a Kiwi radio station, the term’ girl math’ blew up on Tik Tok last year.  Is it really something new? No, it’s been around for a very long time.  Should it be taken seriously? Maybe, it’s a way we talk about justifying our financial behaviour, this one is in a light-hearted fun way. 

Guys, you will be scratching your head a little bit about this and wondering what on earth this “Girl Math’ thing is.  But if you are in a relationship, you are more than likely to have been on the receiving end of it when you (in a loving way of course) ask the question about a recent purchase. 

This is for us girls, who, when we get together, have a great time laughingly explaining financial justifications and rationalising our decisions.

It goes something like this: “I’ve just spent $200 on a new dress for Gill’s wedding”. “You’ll get lots of wear out of it” your girlfriend replies “There’s Xmas, birthday parties, don’t forget the work event” pipes up another one, “it’s an absolute bargain, at only $20.00 per wear.” This is where the conversation ends up.  That’s girl math!

To our rational brain, it is totally illogical.  And it is, but with any justification bias, we do it to justify our behaviour, particularly if deep down we know it’s not the best decision. We will find a way to make it right.

One of my personal favourites, and I hear this a lot. “It was on sale, so I saved $??”. My response to this is, ‘would you have bought it if it wasn’t on sale?” The answer to this question will often spark the ‘girl math’ justification, and it isn’t always coming from the girl!  As an aside, have you noticed that quite often the till receipt shows how much you have ‘saved’. Maybe trying to encourage you to spend the savings too.

It’s not only women who behave this way. I’d love to hear from a few guys who may have spent up to the $value to get the free shipping. Or bought the second whatever to get it for half price. I’m sure there are lots of stories about this topic to be shared.

This is all about the psychology of spending. Right now, when businesses are all fighting to get our discretionary $ you will see a lot more of these types of deals trying to tempt us to spend more.

Girl math might be intended to be light-hearted, but our emotions, the situation and logic all play into how we make spending decisions. Once we have made them, then the justification and rationalisation bias kicks in so those decisions become ‘right’.

If you have the discretionary income, or have the money set aside to top up the purchase to get free shipping, or whatever the deal is, great. No harm done.

It’s where you are getting caught up in the marketing hype and you don’t have the resources to spend that way, and you have your little inner voice justifying your decision; that you then repeat to your partner when they get upset with you. That’s when you need to slow down and take the time to really think about the decision you are making, and is it the best one for you.