From The Straits Times    |

Hey you! Have you gone online recently and realised that there’s a whole new lexicon you no longer understand? Like why is the word “core” added to every fashion trend? Or what is a pick me, and why do these people want to be picked? Internet Analysis is a commentary column that helps to break down these new terms that made its debut on the internet and social media, and helps you fellow reader, navigate the confusing world wide web. Just call it your internet cheat sheet.

Ever find yourself justifying the purchases you’ve made despite going over your budget? You’re not alone. Apparently more young women on TikTok are sharing their perplexing strategies to rationalise their extravagant spending habits, all under the hashtag #GirlMath

Where did it originate from?


Using #girlmath to make tickets to The Eras Tour #basicallyfree 🫶 Let us know if you need help justifying your purchases 🤑

♬ original sound – FVHZM

Well, it seems that this trend originated from segments featured on a New Zealand radio show called “Fletch, Vaughan & Hayley.” In these segments, known as ‘Girl Math’, a caller reveals the cost of her purchase, such as splurging on $5,600 on four nights of Taylor Swift tickets, or even purchasing a $699 Dyson hair dryer. (We know, some of us are probably guilty of that too.) Of course, the hosts of the show will then discuss and help the caller justify their exorbitant spending by calculating how often the item is expected to be used or the potential savings it might offer, making the overall cost appear as if it’s practically nothing or at times, it might even be “profitable” for the spender. It might be a little far-fetched but hey, it’s all in the name of Girl Math. 

In my opinion, as an avid shopper myself (or someone who enjoys spending money in general), it comes as a surprise that I now have a label for my imprudent spending tendencies. However, just like the way various trends from the past often resurface on TikTok, we’re well aware of how the internet has a knack for turning things from the past into what appears to be a fresh trend.

Examples of Girl Math

If you’re uncertain about the concept of Girl Math, allow me to elucidate with a few examples: 

  • If you paid something in cash, it feels like you got it for free because it didn’t reduce your bank balance. 
  • If your Starbucks app is loaded with money, the coffee is “free”.
  • You would buy more stuff online and spend more money, just to avoid paying for shipping and delivery fees. 
  • Botox counts as an “investment” to your future self 
  • Buying a bag for $300, but using it daily, will technically cost you less than a dollar everyday.
  • If you have a lash appointment scheduled tomorrow and your lash extensions cost $80, but you cancelled last minute, you have $80 to spend on other things, which is considered “free” 
  • Paying for the bill first on your credit card, and have your friends transfer you money after, to which you’ll then have extra money in your debit account, so technically you have more money to spend. 

I could probably list a few more examples that we’re all guilty of, but you get the drift. 

Should we be worried about the effects of ‘Girl Math’?

Of course, it’s illogical and an unhealthy habit that we should all kick, but it also highlights why we should always keep ourselves in check so we avoid spending outrageous amounts of money on things we don’t really need. ‘Girl Math’ doesn’t involve the rigour of scientific mathematics, but TikTok users are jumping on the bandwagon to explain their own personal take on ‘Girl Math’ because it’s meant to be a fun and lighthearted logic.  

TikToker Samantha James, 28, explained in her own TikTok video about why ‘Girl Math’ is important and not just some “silly” trend.

“I really believe that these little purchases and the way we justify them in our minds bring us joy, which ultimately contributes to our happiness.” She also added, “Justifying a really cute dress that you bought because you returned a shirt, or justifying $200 plus concert tickets and you had a really good time with your friend, that’s a good mindset shift in my opinion to have, it’s money well spent. And I shouldn’t have to qualify all of this, but of course, if that’s in your financial means. We can be silly but it doesn’t mean that we’re bad with our money.”

However, indulging in “Girl Math” occasionally is perfectly fine, and like Samantha mentioned, it’s acceptable provided you have the financial means for it. Nonetheless, it’s crucial to consider your savings and make preparations for your future financial well-being.