Girl Math, but Make it Savvy

Customer shopping at clothing store.

‘Girl math’: a social media trend we all love to use to our advantage. If you haven’t heard of ‘girl math,’ it’s a term used to describe the creative ways we justify our spending – but despite the silly phrase, these quirky justifications aren’t specific to women.

A few common examples of girl math include if you meet your friends out for Sunday brunch, but you pay for your portion of the check with cash – it’s free. Or if you splurge on a new hair dryer – but it’s on sale – you’re actually saving money that you would’ve spent any way. Another one we’re all guilty of – spending an extra $30 on merchandise to avoid paying $15 for shipping.

While girl math can be fun, it’s important to be mindful of our spending habits and keep track of where our money is going. Managing your finances responsibly doesn’t mean you have to miss out on all the fun – it just means limiting your ‘girl math’ impulse decisions and implementing smart practices that put you on the track to reach your financial goals.

Key Points to Remember

Icon for Key Points to Remember
Icon for Key Points to Remember
  • Pay Yourself First: Embrace reverse budgeting with the “Pay Yourself First” method. Allocate a portion of each paycheck to essential needs, discretionary spending, and building a financial future, ensuring your goals take precedence.
  • Track Your Expenses: Use online banking tools to track your expenses diligently. Understanding where your money is going helps identify areas of opportunity.
  • Don’t Buy Now, Pay Later: Resist the temptation of “Buy Now, Pay Later.” While they do offer instant gratification, they often lead to impulse spending and financial strain. Credit Card Balance: Pay your credit card balance in full each month to avoid accumulating interest charges and to positively impact your credit score.
  • Celebrate Financial Wins: “Girl math” can be used to celebrate milestones like reaching savings goals or paying off debt, but do so within reason. Balancing financial discipline with occasionally treating yourself is crucial for long-term success.

Here are a few tips for using girl math in a way that's financially savvy:

Pay Yourself First

Girl math is enticing – but if you’re not careful, you can wind up spending your entire paycheck without saving a dime. After you pay your bills, stock up on groceries, and meet your friends for cocktails, you might not have much – or anything – left over. Waiting until the end of the month to put money into your savings account will almost always lead to disappointment. Rather than attempting to save the leftovers – try reverse budgeting.

The ‘Pay Yourself First’ method is a reverse budgeting strategy that teaches saving the first 20% of every paycheck as soon as it hits your account. Where traditional budgeting focuses solely on expense tracking and limiting your spending, reverse budgeting emphasizes setting aside money for savings, investments, and future goals before allocating funds for daily expenses. If you sign up for an automatic transfer, you can have the money be deducted from your checking account and deposited into your savings account before you even know it’s there. Try reverse budgeting using the 50/30/20 rule:

  • 50% of each paycheck goes to your essential needs. This includes your housing payment or rent, transportation, insurance, groceries, healthcare, and any other necessities.
  • 30% of each paycheck goes to your wants – the fun stuff. With this portion, feel free to spend it on materials or activities that fill your cup: concert tickets, a new book you’ve been anxious to read, or a nice dinner at your favorite local eatery.
  • 20% of each paycheck is dedicated to strengthening your financial future. This may include paying down debt or student loans, building an emergency fund, saving for a down payment, and more.

By paying yourself first, you ensure your financial goals take priority over impulse purchases that add up quickly.

Track Your Expenses

When you use girl math to justify your day-to-day purchases, it’s easy to lose track of where your money is going. You might be shocked to discover your twice-weekly trips to Starbucks are costing you a whopping $80 a month, or that you’re spending money on subscription services you don’t need. With the financial tools available through online banking, it’s easy for you to see exactly where your money is going and how much you’re spending. When you track your expenses, you can identify areas where you can cut back, save more, or invest wisely.

Don’t Buy Now, Pay Later

Picture this: you’re at the mall browsing this season’s hottest styles. You don’t really need a new outfit for every event you have planned this month, but you see an advertisement for “Buy Now, Pay Later” and the wheels start spinning in your head. You could go on a shopping spree and pay for your clothes in smaller segments over the course of the next few months. It sounds tempting, but don’t give in to this scheme.

While Buy Now, Pay Later offers immediate gratification, it can also lead to a cycle of impulse spending and financial strain. These services often conceal the actual cost of purchases, with potential hidden fees and high-interest rates if payments are delayed. Relying on Buy Now, Pay Later might distort your budgeting efforts and make it more challenging to keep track of your overall financial well-being.

Pay Your Credit Card Balance in Full Each Month

Paying your credit card balance in full each month isn’t just a financial best practice – it’s a smart money move that can significantly impact your financial health. By settling your balance monthly, you avoid accruing interest charges, which can quickly accumulate and become a financial burden. This approach helps you maintain control over your spending because you’re devoted to only charging what you can comfortably afford to pay.

Beyond the immediate financial benefits, consistently paying your balance in full contributes to positively improving your credit score and establishes a good foundation for responsible credit management.

Use Girl Math to Celebrate

If you reach a savings goal, get a promotion at work, pay off debt, etc., don’t be afraid to treat yourself – as long as it’s within reason. There’s nothing wrong with using ‘girl math’ to justify a new pair of shoes or a specialty coffee every once in a while. Financial progress takes discipline, but it’s important to celebrate the milestones you hit along the way.

“Girl math” may be a silly trend – but financial empowerment is timeless. Put these savvy financial strategies into action today – and if you need help, a SouthState branch is just around the corner. We can’t wait to serve you.

About the Author, Catherine Beitel: Catherine Beitel is a Branch Manager in our Huntsville, Alabama market with over 10 years of banking experience. She grew up in Madison County and decided to make it her home with her thirteen-year-old daughter, Charlotte. Catherine is involved in several non-profit organizations including her local Rotary Club and National Charity League where she pulls in her daughter frequently to help with various causes. She loves finding unique solutions for complex situations her customers find themselves in.

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