Go ahead and send that Venmo request. Skip the drinks and just do dinner. Have the courage to raise your hand in the group chat and say “Actually, no, I CAN’T afford another nightclub with a $40 cover — perhaps a cozy night in instead?”
Welcome to the wonderful world of loud budgeting, the TikTok trend that calls for curbing your spending by declaring your financial limits. Because in this economy, there’s a good chance everyone else is just as broke as you are.
Someone asks if you’re free tonight? One response might be: “Sorry, I can’t go out to dinner, I’ve got $7 a day to live on,” suggests Lukas Battle, the TikTok creator who coined the term “loud budgeting.” His post explaining the concept has garnered more than 1.4 million views on the social-media platform.
“It’s not, ‘I don’t have enough’ — it’s, ‘I don’t want to spend,’” he explained in the video. “Loud budgeting has the same feeling as sneaking candy into a movie theater. You feel like you got away with something … [It’s] coming out of the situation winning.”
As Battle sees it, overspending is, well, over. “Put that dollar in your pocket, choose a stock that’s gonna rock it,” he told his 619,000 followers.
What is loud budgeting?
Loud budgeting started as Battle’s response to “quiet luxury,” an earlier TikTok trend that emphasized understated elegance, often through expensive purchases that don’t seem opulent at first glance.
In a video sharing his “ins” and “outs” for the new year, Battle declared that trend passé.
“It was really weird. It was this trend about buying expensive items, about making other people do the work to figure out that you’re wealthy,” he told MarketWatch. “If something like that can be fashionable, I don’t understand why budgeting and thinking about how much you want to spend can’t be stylish.”
Thus “loud budgeting” was born — the literal opposite of quiet luxury, focused instead on “the everyday American” or “the average Joe,” Battle says. He included the phrase on his list of “ins” for 2024, alongside other things he’d decided were in vogue, such as gardening, wearing cardigans, and “being brave enough to ask the person in front of you in the bathroom line if they’ve knocked on the door already.”
“I just flipped the words,” he admitted. “But people started rolling with it.”
Battle doesn’t usually offer financial advice on TikTok — his content typically skews toward the comedic — but he’s a 20-something in New York City, he said, which means he’s familiar with the “jump scare” of overspending on a night out.
The trend itself is kind of like one big inside joke, Battle said — but that’s the beauty of it.
“Talking about money can be a taboo topic,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to give an excuse [to not spend] and it can be a joke — it doesn’t have to become an uncomfortable situation.”
Some users have shared how they’ve implemented loud budgeting in their own lives by finding discounts through “buy nothing” groups, opening a high-yield account for their savings, or just talking more openly with others about financial literacy and healthy money habits.
Battle didn’t expect the idea to resonate so broadly, but he now realizes it makes a lot of sense considering the current economic moment. His followers, comprised of many fellow 20-somethings, are facing looming student-loan debt, rising rents and the lingering effects of aggressive inflation.
“I think this age group on TikTok is feeling the financial pressures of today’s world,” he said. “It started as a joke, but it struck a chord.”
It’s also true that younger people have flocked to TikTok for financial advice, sometimes to the chagrin of personal-finance educators who worry TikTok’s audience may sometimes be receiving less than credible money-management tips on the app.
Battle himself said he’s opted to budget loudly by hosting dinner parties instead of dining out and by participating in the “Dry January” tradition of abstaining from alcohol.
“Being open and honest about your money situation should be normalized,” he added. “Especially because under the circumstances, it’s completely understandable [to feel stretched financially].”
Is loud budgeting a good idea?
Personal-finance experts told MarketWatch that loud budgeting, for the most part, is something they can get behind.
“It is right in line with basically what we already know about how to help people stay on track with their budget and make it fun,” said Kimberly Palmer, a senior writer and personal-finance expert at NerdWallet. “I was excited to see it.”
Being transparent with people close to you about your financial goals — like sticking to a budget or avoiding overspending — often encourages accountability to those goals, Palmer said. “Anytime you explicitly share even to yourself what your financial goals are, you’re moving yourself a little closer to reaching them.”
Social media can often be a source of pressure to spend money or compare our own spending to what other people can afford, especially for young people, noted Yuval Shuminer, founder of the budget-tracking app Piere, which is aimed especially at young people.
“You see someone spending $100 on dinner or traveling to Europe and you say, ‘Hey, I don’t know that I can afford that,’” Shuminer said. Loud budgeting, in many ways, is “a response to that.”
But you don’t want to be too open about your finances, according to Palmer, who said that sharing too much — especially online — can be a little risky. For example, sharing your credit score, the name of your bank or potential security-question answers (like your birth date) could be useful info for potential scammers, who can use those details to target phishing emails and gain access to your accounts.
When swapping spending strategies, it’s also important to remember that no two people’s budgets will be alike, said Eric Roberge, founder of Beyond Your Hammock, a financial-planning firm based in Boston.
“As with anything online, you have to take things with a grain of salt,” he said. “Budgeting is very, very personal, and one person’s situation is vastly different than the next.”
Loud budgeting does have one key benefit, Palmer noted — it makes the intimidating hurdle of managing your money a little more bearable.
“For a lot of us, it’s hard to make budgeting and saving money seem fun,” Palmer said. “This concept of loud budgeting manages to do that.”
And the “loud” in loud budgeting doesn’t have to be literal, Shuminer added.
“You don’t have to scream it to social media or even scream it to your friends,” she said. “You can really just scream it to yourself.”