Why Loud Budgeting Is a TikTok Trend We Can Get Behind

Estimated read time 6 min read

The past year gave us workplace trends like “quiet promotions,” “rage applying” and “loud quitting.” In 2024, it’s all about “loud budgeting,” according to Tiktok.

The concept was first introduced by TikToker Lukas Battle, who posted a video about the quiet-luxury fashion trend that dominated the social-media platform last year, proclaiming it’s over and instead he’s opting for a lifestyle of loud budgeting for the new year. Amidst inflation and the rising cost of living, it’s no surprise that many people are embracing his concept.

Loud budgeting is exactly what it sounds like: being honest and open about what you can and can’t afford instead of glamourizing the aspirational shopping hauls, exotic travel and Michelin-star dinners that social media is notorious for. “Sorry, can’t go out to dinner. I’ve got $7 a day to live on,” Battle says in the video, which has been viewed over a million times.

Robin Taub, a chartered professional accountant and author of The Wisest Investment, says what’s really valuable about this new trend is that it’s taking people back to the basics of budgeting, like tracking one’s monthly incomes and expenses, to help maximize savings. “Most of us don’t have enough money to do everything that we want or need to. So it’s about prioritizing between wants and needs,” she says.

Why is loud budgeting so popular?

With financial instability looming large in the public consciousness, a majority of Canadians are feeling anxiety about their finances. According to a TD report published on January 18, more than half of established Canadians expect inflation and the cost of living to be the biggest financial challenges they face in 2024.

Taub says that for many people, especially young people on social media who are faced with the constant pressure to “keep up,” it takes building confidence to be able to say no to an expensive dinner or concert that they cannot afford. She recommends using personal values to guide goal-setting. “Your long-term goals might be paying off your credit card debt or saving for a wedding,” she explains.

Budgeting is often associated with deprivation, but what loud budgeting is trying to do is empower people to let go of instant gratification and focus instead on what matters to them in the long term—replacing the idea of deprivation with the concept of paying their future self.

“Loud budgeting can be a way of taking back some power in the face of uncontrollable factors like inflation and high interest rates,” Taub says. “It’s saying, ‘I’m going to prioritize financial stability over frivolous spending.’”

How to loud budget

The first step toward loud budgeting is, of course, setting a budget. Kristine Beese, CEO and founder of Untangle Money, a platform offering financial-planning services for women, recommends using one of the many online tools available to get started. Quber, for example, has a step-by-step guide that instructs users on how to determine goals, track spending and save for unexpected expenses.

Taub similarly recommends making use of the tools built into most mobile banking apps, which typically include an expense tracker and a budgeting tool. “That’s the quickest and easiest way in because the app learns the vendors that you go to and it categorizes your spending based on those vendors. And it allows you to track and use that information to set up budgets,” she says.

Related: More Retailers Are Offering Buy Now, Pay Later Options. For Shoppers, It Comes with Risk

Taub has also created a worksheet on her website to help people discover what values are important to them so that they can align their spendings habits accordingly. These values include things like security, adventure, family and independence, and ranking them from most to least important can help people come up with a plan for how to allocate their finances.

When it comes to goal-setting, Beese says that retirement should be top of the list, even for young people. “If you’re not putting money away for retirement, then you might find yourself later unable to afford the lifestyle you want,” she says. While saving for retirement will look different for every person depending on their income, cost of living and long-term plans, Beese recommends that a household aim to save $1,000 a month per adult.

“Anywhere between 50 and 80 per cent of people’s incomes is usually already earmarked for rent, utilities, cell phone, food, subscription and memberships,” says Beese. “We really don’t have that much wiggle room.” For that reason, she recommends taking a hard look at what subscriptions can go.

“We know that 80 per cent of subscriptions are unused. And a hundred-dollar change in your monthly spending has a massive impact on your long-term savings.”

Discovering the benefits of budgeting

Loud budgeting, says Beese, does a good job of normalizing the fact that most people are struggling financially. And openly discussing financial strategies may help to reduce individuals’ stress and anxiety over it, says Taub. “It can be really supportive and it can almost be a relief to be able to be honest and more transparent about what you decide to do with your money,” she says.

But, she warns, it’s important not to compare yourself to others in different financial circumstances, otherwise that will only increase anxiety.

Beese also cautions that while it’s a good thing that more young people are openly talking about money on social media, sometimes content creators can make bold statements that shouldn’t be taken at face value. “They can miss the nuances and hurt people’s feelings by implied judgment on what a person chooses to spend their money on,” she says.

Lastly, Beese stresses that it’s important to remember that you can prioritize financial goals while making room for some much-needed joy-inducing frivolity. “When we don’t get joy from the money we spend, we’ll keep spending to chase that joy,” says Beese. “So if you like food, spend money on food. As long as you’re able to maintain the rest of your budget in the long term, treat yourself to things that bring you pleasure in the present.”

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