The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Opinion | Girl math puts frugal minds at ease

Amy Sanchez

The term social media coined “girl math” — not to be confused with “explaining things for the girls” — is a phenomenon or brain trick I have been using for years to feel less bad about spending money.

My parents instilled financial responsibility into me from a young age. Especially once I got my first job in my sophomore year of high school, almost all expenses outside of what I actually needed were coming out of my own pocket.

If I wanted fast food, I would spend my own money. Instead of buying name brands at full price, I would buy them secondhand online or at thrift stores. My Chase Bank app was my best friend; I would track my money by the transaction. 

Ultimately, my feelings of being frugal went out the window once my entire savings account was exhausted on one semester’s tuition and I only had the $1,000 in my checking account to my name.

To cope, I started tricking my brain into thinking I was spending less money than I actually was. Here is where the girl math comes in: Cash isn’t real, the same $20 my best friend and I Venmo back and forth is me earning money and if I spend $20 on a discounted item at the store, I am actually saving money.

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Now, to anyone older than Generation Z reading, this probably sounds ridiculous — stay with me.

I probably couldn’t even go a week without using my debit card while on campus. Whether it is groceries, an impromptu coffee date with a friend or gas to fill my car, I am always watching the number in my bank account go down. 

So, when my friend sends me money for the fast-food order I used my card to pay for, I am getting money back into my account, even if the number only goes up by $5. 

The same goes for returns or even using cash. Cash doesn’t reflect in my bank account, so I feel less bad about using it. Ultimately, if there is a higher number — or the same number — in my bank account than the last time I checked, I take it as a win. 

The more time I dedicate to celebrating these small wins in my week is time taken away from spiraling over the countless debts I am accumulating or beating myself up for going to Chipotle for dinner instead of using my meal plan. 

Unfortunately, since its original use, the idea of “girl” or “boy” math has morphed into making fun of each other’s gender stereotypes, such as suggesting girls do not know how to manage their money, or “boy math” is putting the United States billions of dollars into debt. 

But I want to draw it back to the original fun, lighthearted use it started as because I have been using “girl math” long before it was a term. 


Megan is a sophomore in Media.

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About the Contributors
Megan Harding, Assistant Opinions Editor
Hi! My name is Megan and I’m a freshman studying journalism. I joined the DI a couple of months into my first semester here, and specifically chose the opinions section since it is so different from the news or feature stories I am typically writing for classes. I love reading and contributing to the unique perspectives columns bring to the publication. When I am not writing for the DI or my classes, I enjoy listening to 2000s throwback music, driving around historic neighborhoods and pretending I live there and watching Dance Moms.
Amy Sanchez, Graphics Editor
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