Girl math versus my accountant boyfriend

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).

Student Life

University Finance 101: budgeting tips that don’t involve slandering avocado toast

Financial Advice to help make the jump from Living At Home To University Life a little easier.

With the start of the fall semester and in-person lectures returning to Concordia, this week not only marks the first time that many freshmen and sophomore students will be on a university campus, but also the far more important experience of leaving home for the first time. When the initial excitement of beginning university wears off, being faced with the challenge of having to be financially independent can be quite intimidating for many students.

As a fourth-year student, I remember how difficult the change was from living at home to suddenly having to “fend for myself.” I, like many of my peers, found myself in a sink or swim situation.

Something I wish I’d done sooner was applying for as many bursaries, scholarships, and grants as I could, as early as I could. This is something I wish I did sooner. Scholarships and grants are fantastic ways to mitigate the financial burden of tuition and can also help build up an emergency fund.

As well, it may be worth your time to do some research into specific scholarships and grants that may apply to you. POC and members of the LGBTQ+ community experience financial instability at a higher rate than the national average. Many Non-Government Organizations and bursary funds provide specific scholarships to students that are a part of marginalized communities, such as the Black Canadian Scholarship Fund, the Jeremy Dias Scholarship, and the RBC Royal Bank Scholarship for Aboriginals.

Students who are registered with the Access Centre for Students with Disabilities are also eligible to receive numerous grants and scholarships from both government and private institutions, such as the RBC Capital Markets Canada Pathways Diversity Scholarship Program and the Canada Student Grant for Students with Permanent Disabilities.

First-year students should also be mindful of the transaction limit on their debit card. To stay within your transaction limit, use cash for day-to-day purchases and your credit card to finance larger expenses. While credit cards have no transaction limits, they do have a spending limit. Stay well below your maximum allowed and by paying your monthly balance on time no additional interest will accumulate on your credit. As well, the physiological impact of paying with cash causes a significant decrease in spending than paying with a card.

Another simple trick I recommend is uninstalling food delivery and ride apps from your phone. The added step of needing to reinstall these apps helped me to cut back on my spending and reduce my monthly credit card bill by almost 50 percent. Your billing information is saved to your account, so reinstalling these apps before a night out with friends or a date with your significant other is quick and easy.

Concordia itself has a number of great organizations dedicated to helping support students with their day-to-day financial expenses. Organizations like The People’s Potato vegan soup kitchen provide free lunches to all Concordia students every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday between 12:30 and 2 p.m at the Henry Hall building in room H-700.00.

Whenever you can, buy your textbooks from the Concordia Co-op Bookstore instead of the Concordia Book Stop. The Co-op Bookstore also provides members with a discount on every subsequent purchase for a single upfront charge of ten dollars. For students studying in the humanities or in the fine arts, this upfront charge can typically be earned back in the money saved on required readings for just a single semester.

While money doesn’t buy happiness, financial stability provides freedom and opportunity that will have a profound impact on your wellbeing. It defines the difference between choosing to work versus having to work a part-time job during the school year. It provides the ability to leave a toxic and/or abusive living environment without having to worry about debt.

Financial means can grant access to resources like therapy and medication which, sadly in our capitalist society, become far harder to access without. It’s the ability to have your avocado toast worry-free and eat it too.

Disclaimer: This is not professional financial advice. Please consult your financial advisor to associate the risks involved.

Feature photo by Catherine Reynolds

Student Life

Mastering the art of budgeting as a student

Are you an Avoiding Ostrich, a Striding Peacock, a Stashing Crow, or a Wary Owl?

On Aug. 24, Concordia’s Financial Aid & Awards Office presented the first workshop in a series of four similar events dedicated to helping students find the budgeting system right for them.

The first “Budget to Your Values” workshop, which took place in the Guy de Maisonneuve building last Thursday, was hosted by Judy Lashley, a financial advisor working with the Financial Aid & Awards Office at Concordia.  The second workshop took place on Aug. 25, and the last two events of the series will take place on Aug. 30 and 31.

During the workshop, Lashley explained that budgeting is essential for students because it is a tool that helps in long-term saving.  “A budgeting plan is a roadmap that teaches you how to do things in your life so that you are able to plan for your future,” said Lashley to the room full of students.

According to Lashley, one of the main issues students face when making a budget is not knowing what they want to do with their money, or what they see as their long-term financial goals.  To shed light on this issue, Lashley used a variety of handouts and fun games to better translate her expertise on money and budgeting systems.

Lashley created an interactive presentation.  Each student was handed a workshop folder containing budgeting instructions, a personality quiz, a customized envelope, a workshop evaluation form and an information sheet for the Financial Aid department at Concordia.  Her presentation also included a quiz, entitled “How do You Relate to Money?” The quiz analyzed participants’ personality types and aimed to understand the relationship they have with their money.  The results were divided into four bird categories, aimed to represent different budgeting characteristics: The Avoiding Ostrich (avoidance), Striding Peacock (overspending), The Stashing Crow (workaholic), and the Wary Owl (vigilance and fear).

Lashley explained that a budget can be something as simple as a piece of paper where you write down the money that comes in, the money that goes out and the money you want to put aside.  She also said that one of the best ways for students to save money is by using the envelope budgeting system. This way, the whole money-spending and money-saving process is more tangible, and you can physically see your money being placed and being spent.  Using cards all the time can make you underestimate the amount you dish out, said Lashley.

The envelope system works by calculating an estimate of your monthly expenses, dividing your expenses into different categories and assigning an envelope to each category.  With these, you can either put the cash for the month in the envelope up front or, you can put money in the envelopes weekly.  For instance, if you put $50 in your food envelope at the beginning of the week, then $50 is all you are allowed to spend on food until the following week.

Lashley also said it’s important to be aware of emergency expenses that may come up. Emergency expenses can include needing to purchase new ink for a printer or replacing broken electronics.  Lashley explained that the key to budgeting and saving money is to know what your values are, and to make appropriate decisions based on them.  “If you figure out what you value, you can figure out how to save money and create a budget that will help you do the things you want to do,” she said.

For more information, visit the FAAO website.

Graphic by Florence Yee

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