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Meet "Loud Budgeting," Gen Z's Answer to Smart Spending

 Young women gather for dinner at someone's home and toast with wine glasses. .
Young women gather for dinner at someone's home and toast with wine glasses. .

Move over, girl math, you’ve had your moment. There’s a new trend on the block, loud budgeting—and it’s taking TikTok by storm.

Consider this: Your friends suggest dinner and a night out. You tally the cost in your head, and, in the name of fiscal responsibility, you decline, explaining you would rather stay in and save the money. This is loud budgeting. The trend is making it more acceptable to be vocal about personal finances—and it’s a good thing, especially in a time where it has never been easier to mindlessly scroll social media and doom-spend along the way.

“This trend will help Gen Z change their relationship with money for the better, because it puts them in control,” says Courtney Alev, consumer financial advocate at Credit Karma. “By saying, ‘I don’t want to spend,’ or ‘I don’t want/need these things,’ you’re making a deliberate choice based on what’s important to you, and you’re spending within your limits.”

In a society where money conversations have long been taboo, loud budgeting has emerged as a way to unapologetically celebrate fiscal responsibility. It prioritizes a person's unique financial goals, setting smart spending boundaries, and encouraging open and authentic conversations about money.

Behind trends like loud budgeting is the financial pressure facing younger generations. A Deloitte survey reveals over half of Gen Z worry about living paycheck to paycheck and are considering taking on a second job.

In addition to swinging the pendulum away from “stealth wealth” overspending, loud budgeting fosters camaraderie around spending less. A ton of humility and vulnerability comes with publicly admitting you can’t afford something. But loud budgeting rebrands the concept of frugality for Gen Z, giving it an empowering spin.

“For younger generations dealing with rising living costs and higher house prices, they are getting more serious about improving their financial literacy and preparing for the future–making budgeting cool,” says Brent Reinhard, General Manager of Chase Freedom.

“It’s almost more chic, more stylish, more of a flex,” says Lukas Battle, who first coined the term last December in a video that has since garnered almost 1.5 million views.

Others have taken to TikTok to share exactly how they're loud budgeting in 2024. “Dinner OR drinks…not both,” says one user; another commits to only borrowing clothes this year. Some users provide financial education by way of money-saving and wealth-building tips, and others heap praise on the movement. Loud budgeting transcends frugality; it’s about stewardship and intentionality. As Battle explains, “It’s not ‘I don’t have enough.’ It’s ‘I don’t want to spend.’

Loud budgeting could also help save friendships. Intuit Credit Karma recently found that 36 percent of Gen Z and millennials had a friend who caused them to overspend, causing 47 percent of Gen Z and 36 percent of millennials to consider ending those friendships altogether to avoid spending beyond their means.

“The sooner people feel more comfortable talking about money with their friends, the sooner they can set realistic financial boundaries for themselves,” says Alev. “When conversations about costs happen before events like a vacation or a group dinner, you aren’t left with that sense of sticker shock in the end, or that sense of resentment toward friends who cause you to overspend.”

There is one caveat. Spending less is fine to a point, but financial experts caution against overly restrictive approaches that can undermine long-term success. “I think anybody who puts themselves on a new routine that is initially too strict will fail," says Reinhard. "They don’t learn their way into it."

Ultimately, though the trend may be new, the theme is intergenerational: Being smart about money deserves to be celebrated.