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Ask Chuck: #GirlMath makes financial pain look fun

Ask Chuck your money question

Dear Chuck,

“Girl Math” sounds humorous and fun to justify some crazy spending, but I think it is actually dangerous. Can you give me some counterpoints to discuss with my women’s group?

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California Women’s Mentor

Dear California Women’s Mentor,


I had not seen this trend, so thanks for bringing it to my attention. Let’s start with some clarity on what the term means. My wife, Ann, helped me with the research. She does not practice “Girl Math,” by the way.

Business Insider defines “Girl Math” as “the process of justifying spending by breaking down big-ticket items into cost per wear or rationalizing that using cash isn’t really costing money because it’s not coming directly out of a checking account — maybe you have money on a Starbucks card or cash in your Venmo account — so that coffee or paying back a friend for brunch can be ‘free.’”

It’s a TikTok trend in which the hashtag “#girlmath” is how young women explain spending choices that make absolutely no sense. The craze is meant to be a humorous way of justifying overspending on large or unnecessary purchases. Here are some examples:

  • Cash is free money.
  • Anything under $5 is free.
  • Gift cards, store credit, and refunds are free money.
  • Anything in your Venmo account or Apple wallet is free money.
  • The cost of purchases is rounded down.
  • If you don’t buy sale items, you’re losing money.
  • If you don’t buy enough to get free shipping, you’re losing money.
  • Split a bill: pay the total with a credit card, and a friend pays you cash — you make money.
  • Skipping a coffee purchase means you make money.
  • Spending $500 at Amazon is not the same as making five $100 purchases.
  • Dresses are 50% off because they replace a shirt and pants. All one pieces are 50% off.
  • Money not spent today doubles the budget for tomorrow.
  • Money spent on Botox is an investment.

Does any of that make you cringe too?

Some people say “Girl Math” can motivate people to spend more responsibly by making them think through purchases — apparently not if short-term indulgences justify long-term debt. The backward logic detaches people from the consequences of overspending. When emotions override reality, there will ultimately be financial trouble. In some ways, it dismisses responsibility, reality, and the warnings against greed and coveting. For your women’s group, I suggest you introduce them to “God’s Math.” 

I have often said that Biblical financial teaching can be summed up like this:

Stewardship is not ordering your finances in a way that you can spend whatever you want; it is ordering your life in such a way that God can spend you however He wants.

Jesus did not die on the cross so we could spend our lives in pursuit of vanity upon vanity. He died to stake His claim of ownership on our lives. We were bought with a price and beckoned to serve Him and build His Kingdom, not our own. You become a steward when you recognize that you are not the owner but God’s temporary manager. In this role, you are called to be faithful to His purposes. This will involve self-denial, generosity, and eternal treasures, not necessarily earthly riches.

Regardless of whether you have a little or a lot entrusted to your care, you must seek to allow God to have total control over your financial choices. The challenge is to die to self and come alive in Christ. When you recognize your identity as a steward, everything is done for the glory of God. Work, management of resources, and our very lives reflect our submission to His ways and His purposes. Stewarding what we have for His glory is a huge and honorable responsibility.

A key to making clear, wise choices is found in consciously handing over ownership of “my” resources to God. In fact, a quit claim deed or transfer of ownership to God is a beneficial reminder that everything belongs to Him. I highly recommend completing one. Here is an example, followed by a printable form. 

Truth that will set you free from “girl math”

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money” (Matthew 6:19–24 ESV).

“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1 Timothy 6:6–10 ESV).

Crown Budget Coaching can help you set and achieve your financial goals with the help of a personal coach. Your coach will work with you to develop a customized spending plan and debt elimination strategy to put you on the road to financial freedom!

Chuck Bentley is CEO of Crown Financial Ministries, a global Christian ministry, founded by the late Larry Burkett. He is the host of a daily radio broadcast, My MoneyLife, featured on more than 1,000 Christian Music and Talk stations in the U.S., and author of his most recent book, Economic Evidence for God?. Be sure to follow Crown on Facebook.

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