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Does ‘Girl Math’ help Singapore’s Gen Z ‘find joy’ – or spend recklessly?

This Week in AsiaEconomics

For Singapore’s Gen Z, ‘Girl Math’ offers a path to ‘finding joy’ – and spending recklessly

Some Singaporeans say Girl Math is a ‘coping mechanism’ for young people grappling with cost-of-living pressures in the city stateA survey of Singaporean Gen Zs and millennials revealed 41 per cent spent more than they earned and 52 per cent were in debtSingaporeKimberly LimPublished: 9:30am, 1 Oct, 2023Why you can trust SCMP

If you buy enough bubble tea drinks in an order to qualify for free delivery, you essentially get a cup free. Or if you buy a dress for US$200, it costs just US$1 if you wear it 200 times.

That is according to the logic of “Girl Math”, a financial calculation system that has taken social media by storm since a New Zealand radio show introduced the concept as a joke in July. Young people the world over have since started using this newly named approach in order to justify spending thousands of dollars on frivolous but mood-boosting purchases, from Taylor Swift concert tickets to luxury Van Cleef necklaces.

In Southeast Asia, some on social media have been tickled by the trend, while it has sparked alarm among others who argue that it could encourage reckless spending.

Singapore TikTok content creator Darshen Kunaseharan, 29, recently shared a video using Girl Math to justify spending S$140,889 (US$102,900) on a permit to buy a large car, known as a certificate of entitlement (COE), prices for which recently hit a record high in the city state.

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