By Vanessa Yurkevich, CNN
New York (CNN) — It started as a joke.
At the end of 2023, when social media users were posting their “Ins and outs” for 2024, comedian and writer Lukas Battle did the same, bringing the term “loud budgeting” to the world.
“Loud budgeting is a new concept I am announcing for 2024, it’s the opposite of quiet luxury,” he said in the TikTok post, posted on December 29. “If your friend texts you ‘I want to hang out,’ you say ‘I don’t want to spend gas money to come see you and listen to you talk about your ex for three hours.’”
The joke took off, and a new financial trend was born. His TikTok post has now been viewed more than 1.5 million times, with other users embracing the new term.
Battle told CNN that loud budgeting is “new terminology for people to use when they don’t want to spend money. [It’s a] term people can use that doesn’t make talking about money awkward.”
It’s not going on the weekend girls’ trip to Cabo but paying down student loans instead. Or choosing not to join friends for an expensive dinner but inviting them over for a drink beforehand. All you have to say is “I’m loud budgeting.”
Thousands of Battle’s more than 600,000 TikTok followers are weighing in.
“Someone said that spending money is an ick in 2024 and now I’m living by that,” wrote one user in the video’s comments.
“Adding loud budgeting into my 2024 goals,” wrote another.
In an online world where luxury and opulence are constantly on display — and unattainable for most people — “loud budgeting” makes being on a budget cool and acceptable. It’s the inverse of “quiet luxury,” which flourished on social media last year and promoted not flaunting your wealth or being understated about it.
“It definitely started as a joke,” Battle said of his now-viral trend. “But then when I kind of saw the response it was getting, I kind of got behind my own idea more. Having financial autonomy and being confident and kind of being transparent about your money situation can be just as cool as flexing it and trying to buy all these expensive items.”
Hungry for information
Gen Z and Millennials — social media’s most active users — were either entering the job market or working when the pandemic hit. With less personal wealth than other generations they feel the biggest burden of high inflation, expensive housing and student loan payments.
Despite having the lowest financial literacy of any generation, recent economic uncertainty has made them the hungriest for financial information: Around 52% of Gen Z and 48% of Millennials are motivated to increase their financial literacy, according to a report from the TIAA Institute.
“I think that they’re hungry for financial information, but not because they’re just curious or smarter than generations before them. I think it’s out of a place of necessity,” said Vivian Tu, a former Wall Street trader and CEO of Your Rich BFF financial literacy website, which has a total of 4.7 million TikTok and Instagram followers.
Seventy-five percent of those who spent five or more hours on social media were Gen Z and Millennials, according to a report from S&P Global Market Intelligence.
“With the social media-fication of society, ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ is no longer the Joneses. We’re keeping up with the Kardashians. So, we’re starting to get visualizations of wealth that most regular people will never ever see in their lives,” Tu told CNN.
Millennial Giovanna Gonzalez is a financial educator and author of the book “Cultura & Cash.” She says when she was in her 20s she was never able to be honest with her friends about her finances and had FOMO.
“I spent most of my twenties broke, living paycheck to paycheck. I felt ashamed to say that,” said Gonzalez. “I’m really glad that this whole concept of loud budgeting is being introduced to the younger generation because with loud budgeting, you’re getting your power back.”
The rise of FinTok
Gen Z and Millennials spend hours scrolling on social media — often through aspirational content. They also are more likely than any other generation to buy brands and products from targeted ads on those platforms, according to S&P.
But loud budgeting could be a reckoning for brands who have found success in social media marketing.
“I think loud budgeting and FinTok [Financial TikTok, or a community of users sharing financial advice] is a reflection of consumers looking at the products that are being offered to them in the economic system saying, is this all acceptable?” said Michael Hershfield, CEO and founder of Accrue Savings, a consumer fintech company.
Tu believes the rise of FinTok could help shine a light on the lack of financial literacy in younger generations. But she warns it’s important to cross reference any financial information given on social media with another reputable source.
“Talking more about finance, I personally really hope to see a federally mandated public-school requirement of personal finance to graduate, just because it’s the one topic we don’t get in school and it’s the one that every single person needs to know,” said Tu.
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