Does Gen Z’s Girl Math Add Up?

Understanding GirlMath

Picture this: You’re scrolling through your social media feed, and stumble upon a post tagged with #GirlMath. It shows a young woman proudly showing off her latest purchase – a trendy handbag she snagged on sale. 

The comments are filled with emojis and enthusiastic support. Now, you might be thinking, “What’s so special about that?”

What started off as a joke, is now TikTok’s most viral trend. Girl math is a fun way to describe how Gen Z’s, especially women, use creative or emotional reasons to justify their spending. 

“The girls that get it, get it”

Some say that you either understand the concept of girl math or you don’t, with the common Gen Z saying being, “The girls that get it, get it.” Why does this happen? Women might use girl math to explain their spending for various reasons, but these are just our guesses.

Girl math examples:

If you paid for something in cash or from money that was already in your eWallet, it’s free money. 
If you kept RM200 aside to get your lashes done but your appointment gets cancelled, you just earned RM200 to spend. 
Concert tickets bought months in advance are free by the time you attend the concert.
During a sale, if nothing is bought, you’re losing money.

The mentality often stems from an immediate need to feel good, as spending money acts as a band-aid for stress or sadness. Another reason could be that some women may be trying to make up for tough times in their past. If they grew up without having money, they might use shopping to fill an emotional gap as adults. 

Other times, it can be about feeling like they’ve earned it. If they’ve worked hard or achieved something, they see spending as a reward for all their efforts and accomplishments. And, of course, there’s also the pressure to impress others or to fit in with friends. Buying fancy things or doing expensive stuff can be a way to show off and get approval from their peers. 

Could #GirlMath be a problem?

Statistics from the Department of Statistics of Malaysia (DOSM) show that this is one of the most vulnerable groups when it comes to bankruptcy and debt.

Out of nearly 48,000 people who declared bankruptcy, over 20% were younger than 34. Specifically, 10,138 were between 25 and 34 years old, according to information from the Insolvency Department website. 

Research shows that most young people are facing bankruptcy because they lack financial literacy, especially with the growing popularity of Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) options, which encourages youths to buy without thinking too much about it. 

The reality is that many young people today tend to focus on short-term goals and may not fully grasp the challenges of the real world. It’s important for youths to be around positive influences who can empower them to make wiser spending choices.

Is it a bad thing?

You shouldn’t feel guilty about treating yourself to something nice every now and then. However, it becomes a problem if your treats start getting in the way of your necessities. Try prioritising your financial needs with a few budgeting methods.

You could try the 50-30-20 rule of saving 20% of your income, and leaving 50% for discretionary spending; or you could try the 40-30-30 split which increases the saving portion to 30% and reduces the spending on only 40%.

Another budgeting method you can try is to pau yourself a certain amount of your salary. This amount could be spent on anything, as long as you are strict about meeting your other financial responsibilities.

Spending your money how you want is your decision, and you can go about it as long as you don’t end up putting yourself in too much debt. Remember, future you will thank you for being financially responsible right now.

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