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It’s back: “girl math.” Shoppers are starting earlier on Christmas Day in an effort to “save more”

Girl math takes a festive turn this holiday season as users on TikTok are using it to rationalize new seasonal spending habits. The return of this viral trend on personal finance might indicate that consumers are feeling a strain on their wallets but can’t resist shopping.

Despite financial concerns, over half of holiday shoppers feel burdened but still want to celebrate the season, according to a study by Bankrate. The trend of girl math may help consumers rationalize their purchases amid rising costs. Shoppers may view discounts as “saving money” and use mental gymnastics to justify spending habits, said Melissa Lee, a financial consultant. Holiday shopping started earlier this year, with 50% beginning in October or earlier, according to McKinsey & Company.

Consumers expressed a preference for making purchases over several months instead of all at once. Pre-holiday online spending reached an all-time high of $76.8 billion in October, and overall holiday spending is expected to reach $966.6 billion in 2023. Women are expected to spend 11% more this year compared to 2022, with a strategic focus on value, free returns, shipping, and convenience, according to a report by PwC.

Young parents, particularly families with young children, are a prominent consumer demographic this holiday season, with 49% of parents with children under 18 participating in October sales, according to Bankrate. While credit cards remain the primary financing method, “buy now, pay later” installment plans have gained popularity, reaching an all-time high on Cyber Monday at $940 million in online purchases, up 42.5% year-over-year, according to Adobe Analytics.