Now Gen Z is taking on the cost of living crisis by ‘loud budgeting’

Picture this: You’re watching the pennies while at dinner with a friend. You opt for a budget-friendly choice—a cob salad with no sides and tap water. However, when the bill arrives, your companion, who indulged in steak frites and two glasses of white wine, suggests splitting it evenly. Sheepishly, you nod along but feel instant regret.

We’ve all been there. From celebratory contributions to casual outings, the pressure to spend money can be overwhelming. But Gen Z—who are working multiple jobs just to stay afloat in the cost of living crisis—can’t afford to go along with pricey plans for the sake of pleasantries.

Instead, they are embracing “loud budgeting”—an intentional approach to sidestepping financial awkwardness from the get-go. 

What is ‘loud budgeted’? 

As the name suggests, TikTok’s latest personal finance trend is like budgeting—out loud. 

The concept comes from the 26-year-old comedian Lukas Battle. In a viral video now viewed more than 1.5 million times, Battle described “loud budgeting” as “the opposite of last year’s trend “quiet luxury” which involved subtly flexing one’s wealth. 

“If you know any rich people, you know that they hate spending money. So it’s almost more chic, more stylish, more of a flex,” he said. “It’s not ‘I don’t have enough,’ it’s ‘I don’t want to spend.’”

Essentially, it’s all about being vocal about what your budget allows instead of reluctantly partying ways with your cash at social gatherings.

As Battle lays out: “I don’t want to spend gas money, to hear you talking about your ex for three hours.” 

“It was meant to be a silly idea that allows people to be financially transparent without feeling embarrassed,” he later told the Evening Standard, while adding that “dry January, grocery shopping and coffee shop dates” are his favorite examples of loud budgeting. 

Unspursingly, given the current economic turbulence, the concept has resonated with the hashtag #loudbudgeting racking up 12.8 million views and counting on TikTok. The generation that has been warned they may end up renting forever—or worse, being stuck at their parent’s house without end—if they don’t get a grip on their finances, is filming videos outlining exactly how much money they’ll be saving this year—and how.

Loud budgeting isn’t just online

While budgeting itself is nothing new, money goals and financial woes are usually shrouded in secret. Loud budgeting is turning that on its head and finally turning around years of over-promoted consumption on social media, Hugo Cannon, the founder of the members-only luxury concierge service Velloy tells Fortune.

In 2023, inspired by the quiet luxury trend, Velloy’s members—of which Gen Z are the company’s biggest spenders when it comes to luxury goods—were splashing out on a lot of “objectively strange purchases”, according to Cannon, like unbranded designer coats for upwards of $5,000. 

But now he’s already noticing a “tiny” but growing segment of Gen Z consumers proudly admitting “I can’t afford that” because they’re budgeting.

“Before Gen Z’ might not have felt like they’ve been able to say that because there’s all of this social pressure—this whole influencer culture of always looking like you’re living a good life and spending money that you don’t have.”

As well as turning down costly invitations, Jacqueline (Jack) Howard, head of money wellness at the wealth management and banking firm Ally, tells Fortune that consumers wishing to be more mindful of their spending should implement a “48-hour rule” when shopping.

“Reflect on the purchase before you buy,” she explains, adding that waiting for at least 48 hours before buying anything, including sale items. “Ask yourself, how will you feel about this purchase in three, six, or nine months from now?”

“This small window of time allows you to calm your emotions from the urgency of the sale and helps you decide if you really want or need the item,” she adds.

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