Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Unsung Benefits of Girl Math

"Girl Math" is a term that is usually reserved to mock the spendy tendencies of a stereotypical woman. "50% off means I can buy twice as much!" or "This speeding ticked will cost me two pairs of boots!" or "Since I've returned $100 worth of stuff, I have $100 more to spend!" are the most common examples I've come across. I've mostly heard it used as a derisive term to suggest that females spend money unrealistically and can rationalize all sorts of expenditures, unbound by pesky things like budgets, value, or... you know... REAL math.

BUT. I've been thinking about this in light of some of our moves to Shop Your Closet status, in light of La Francaise's time here on the forum, and in light of some of our forum conversations about investment pieces/less being more/and closet space. When MaryK announced her SYC status, she said something that really stuck with me: that if she added up all the things she bought over the past year, she could have bought some things that she thought she couldn't afford - underneath it all, isn't THAT the core of Girl Math? And isn't it a good thing?

"50% off means I can buy twice as much!"
Instead of a greedy statement, this can be looked at as a value-driven statement. What's wrong with getting more for the same amount of money? Not that you need to get twice as much RIGHT NOW. But what if you kept track of all the things you waited to buy on sale instead of pouncing on at full price... and then rewarded yourself at the end of the year by getting something really nice with the money you saved? Wouldn't that inspire you to weigh cost a little more closely, strive to find the best deal you can, and truly evaluate how much you want and need each purchase?

"This speeding ticked will cost me two pairs of boots!"
You could say this is a materialistic way to think, but what's wrong with translating money into practical terms? I use this thought process a lot myself, thinking, "The cost of this top would get me 1/3 of the way to that jacket I want." Most of the time, the cheaper purchase doesn't seem worth it. I think this kind of equation helps me stay goal-oriented. Period.

"Since I've returned $100 worth of stuff, I have $100 more to spend!"
Now, I'm NOT advocating buying and returning a bunch of stuff you don't actually want and can't afford just to trick yourself into an irresponsible splurge. But I think this little mental trick is super useful in that it makes it okay to return things if you suddenly find that what you have isn't what you want most in the world. Like in the previous section, I see this type of thinking as goal-oriented thinking. It forces you to make a choice and give something up if you want to get something else.

Of course, this only works if the full-price item, or the object of your goal, or the amount of those items to return are within your budget. I am most definitely NOT an advocate of living above your means or in a fog of fiscal denial. However, I do think that Girl Math is a powerful tool to use in *conjunction* with a budget.

I feel like I've been doing this a lot lately and, really, it's prevented more purchases than it's enabled. I returned 3 pairs of BF jeans in favor of a much-needed and long-wanted photo print sundress. And I'm giving up my current meetup budget for a pair of elusive, classic, walkable, heeled engineer boots.

Maybe I've lost my mind and crossed over to the dark side. But I think I like Girl Math.

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