A video of a teenage girl attempting to explain the concept of “girl math” to her father has gone viral.
On 30 August, Marley Brown - who goes by @thebobmarleyy on TikTok - posted part one of her four-part video series, explaining the recent cultural phenomenon to her father. In Brown’s first video, which has more than 1.6m views, she told her father that the first example of “girl math” was buying two concert tickets for her friends.
“If I buy concert tickets for two people, and those people pay me back, the money they pay me back for is free,” she jokingly explained. Brown noted that, since the money for the concert tickets had already left her bank account, that meant the money they returned to her was “free money”.
Immediately, her father began to shake his head in disagreement. “But then you just use the money twice,” he pointed out.
Brown went on to say, according to “girl math”, that returning an item and receiving the money back for it makes the returned cash also free money.
Each video in the series showed Brown going through a list of “rules” associated with “girl math”. However, part three of the series attracted a whopping 11.5m viewers due to the supposed “relatable” examples she used.
“If something’s less than $5, it’s free,” Brown said, before her father responded: “No. What if you buy a hundred things that are $4?”
“They’re all for free,” Brown answered, to which her dad quickly replied: “No. It’s $400, which is obviously not free.”
She then admitted that using money in her Starbucks app to purchase a drink, which customers can do by transferring money from their bank account to the Starbucks app, means that it’s actually a no-cost beverage. “If I want to get Starbucks and there’s already money in the account, money in the app, it’s free,” Brown told her father. “Like, I’m not paying for that Starbucks.”
While Brown’s father corrected her by pointing out how she had already “loaned them money”, many individuals on TikTok sided with Brown.
“The Starbucks one is so real,” one TikToker commented.
According to Brown, the “girl math” phenomenon also applies to online shopping. For example, if a company offers free shipping for items more than $10, it makes sense to purchase additional items in order to qualify for the free shipping.
“If the shipping is $4, I should spend the $10 because it’s a better investment,” Brown told her dad, to which he simply said: “No.”
Still, followers agreed with Brown, writing: “The free shipping one makes so much sense though because at least you’re paying $10 for an item rather than $4 for nothing.”
“Spending the $10 for free shipping gives you something to show for, instead of just paying for shipping,” another added.
In an interview with Newsweek, the college freshman confessed: “My dad and I have joked about how dumb ‘girl math is’ for a while, since I’ve grown up being taught about finances, so I had the idea to make a TikTok about it.”
According to the outlet, the concept of “girl math” reportedly came from the morning show Fletch, Vaughan & Hayley on ZM, a New Zealand radio station. During the show, hosts Carl Fletcher, Vaughan Smith, and Hayley Sproull take calls from listeners revealing some of their recent large, unnecessary purchases. The hosts then help the caller justify their big expenses, instead of shaming them.
However, a few TikTokers felt as though the entire concept of “girl math” was insensitive and only applied to a certain economic class, as one person proclaimed: “Girl math only applies to girls who never had money problems. I can assure you that when [my] bank account is empty we don’t think like that.”
“Dad would rip me to shreds and then question where he went wrong raising me if I did this to him,” another woman admitted.
Speaking to The Independent, Brown further explained what “girl math” means to her. “Girl math to me is a way of rationalizing purchases and spendingmoney, so that people can spend without guilt. Obviously, it’s not a correct way of thinking, nor is it financially responsible, but as long as people understand it’s a joke, then I don’t see how any harm could come from it!”