Girl math versus my accountant boyfriend

Graphic by Henry Richa

While girl math is fun, it isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation.

Girl math is one of the funniest and most ridiculously relatable concepts I’ve encountered on social media recently. In case you haven’t heard of it, girl math is a mindset where women conceptualize money differently to justify their spending, however illogical these explanations may be.

Here are some examples of how it goes. Anything under $5 is basically free. If I pre-paid a membership card and use it now, it’s free. If I don’t buy something, I make money. Anything purchased with cash is free. If I use this $100 bag 20 times, it only costs $5 per wear, which is free. Basically, girl math gives us excuses to indulge in our retail therapy or buy that $8 Starbucks drink.

A revolutionary concept, I know. Now, here’s where things get complicated: I’m in a relationship with a future accountant, and he is bamboozled by girl math. 

Just a couple of weeks ago, I was browsing at Indigo when I spotted their weekend sales. I’d be losing money by not getting a book, right? My boyfriend—let’s call him The Accountant—didn’t have an issue with me buying books, but he was confused by how I was rationalizing it. I decided it was time: The Accountant needed a girl math initiation.

After listening intently, he concluded that girl math essentially trivializes expenses by putting more value on how the purchase makes you feel rather than what it does to your bank account. While that can be okay in some circumstances, the issue for him is the lack of mathematical logic. It’s possible that the girlies on social media are just messing with men, playing on the age-old stereotype that women are bad at math—a bit like when they say “Why don’t we just print more money?” to provoke them. But if taken too seriously, it might become a mindset we should worry about.

While I am an avid girl math practitioner, I must admit he has a point. I am lucky (in most cases) to be in a relationship with someone who is good at math and money, because school certainly didn’t teach me any money management skills or financial literacy. Both are crucial in this cutthroat world, yet they aren’t so common. I don’t like to admit that before The Accountant stormed into my life with his spreadsheets and numbers, I didn’t grasp what a Tax Free Savings Account , First Home Savings Account or Registered Retirement Savings Plan was.

My point is that girl math is all fun and games until we realize it isn’t. We also have the responsibility to consider the environmental impact of our girl math-induced consumption, not only the financial impact. It works as long as it’s reasonably done. My boyfriend and I agree that there’s nothing wrong with indulging in the things that make us happy sometimes, whether that looks like a pumpkin spice latte for you, yet another rom-com book for me, or a golf game for him. 

It’s important that money makes you happy, but to find that balance, we need to work with it, learn about it and plan it out. Make an aesthetic little budgeting spreadsheet or better yet, find yourself an Accountant (mine is spoken for, but he has friends).

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