How to ditch the ‘girl maths’ excuses and curb reckless spending

Can’t resist the urge to splurge? Here’s how to recognise the signs of reckless spending, and how to kick the habit.

With the rising cost of living, many of us are looking for smart ways to stretch our dollars.

But when it comes to spending money, we all have different priorities – and there are some habits that can drain our bank accounts.

According to a national Finder survey, around 3.2 million Australians are spending more than they can afford, with many splurging on holidays and designer items to keep up with their friends and family.

It also found overspending was common among younger generations, with women being almost twice as likely as men to give in to financial peer pressure.

While we’ve probably all rationalised the odd impulse buy before, using “girl maths” to explain overspending has gone viral on social media.

The popular TikTok money trend shares humorous ways for young women to justify their spending habits.

But where do we draw the line between occasional harmless purchases and spending that could be seen as reckless?


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So, what is reckless spending?

Reckless spending refers to being impulsive and careless about how you spend money, without considering the financial consequences, money coach and The Investors Way founder Andrew Woodward explains.

“It often stems from a lack of budgeting, planning or self-control, leading individuals to make purchases they can’t afford or don’t need,” Andrew says.

While it can be hard to tell whether you’re simply making a regular purchase or spending more than you should, Andrew says there are some clear signs that you could be a spendthrift, including:

  • Frequently buying items without planning, especially on a whim or under emotional influence
  • Consistently spending more than your money plan on necessary items
  • Depleting savings
  • Accumulating credit card debt
  • Neglecting essential bills
  • Feeling stressed or guilty after shopping.

Why you should think before you buy

Tribeca Financial CEO Ryan Watson says feeling guilty after spending money is known as buyer’s remorse.

“I think it largely relates to considering the consequences of that purchase only after it has been made,” Ryan explains.

“We justify expensive purchases by telling ourselves how they will improve or make our lives better, and how they will make us feel.”

Instead of falling into the trap of making the decision to buy on an emotional basis, Ryan recommends practising putting in the appropriate thoughts and considerations before purchasing.

“By pre-empting any potential downside which may come with a purchase, you can almost always dispel any feelings of guilt post-purchase.”

Expert tips to help you resist reckless spending

Create a money plan

Have a detailed plan for your money including your income, fixed expenses and discretionary spending, Andrew says.

“The plan should also include consideration of planned future expenses, such as holidays, and goal expenses like new cars or home repairs.”

Make conscious choices

Instead of making mindless impulse purchases, Ryan recommends getting into the habit of making conscious choices about every dollar you spend.

For example, you’d obviously want to enjoy yourself when you’re on holiday, but this still needs to be balanced against what you can actually afford, he explains.

“If you have to put a purchase on a credit card, it probably means that you can’t afford the purchase in the first place,” Ryan says.

Think long term

Consider the long-term value of the item or service you’re wanting to buy, Andrew advises.

“An expensive item with longevity might offer better value over time than a cheaper, less durable alternative,” he says.

Take your time to buy

Andrew says it’s important to pause and ask yourself if a purchase is really necessary.

“If it is an item that costs more than $5000, maybe wait a day or two and if you still think it makes sense, then make the purchase – this reflection can prevent impulse buys,” he says.

Weigh up the benefits

“Sometimes, the emotional or psychological benefits (of a purchase) – like happiness or confidence – can justify the expense, especially if it contributes significantly to your wellbeing,” Andrew says.

More tips to keep your finances on track:

Written by Melissa Hong.