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‘Loud budgeting’ is mentally and financially ‘healthy,’ says expert—and it’s good etiquette too

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A number of stories emerged recently explaining the rise of a new viral money trend on TikTok: loud budgeting.

It’s kind of like the opposite of “quiet luxury.” The gist is that you’re transparent and explicit with people in your life about what you are and aren’t willing to spend on.

In an example from TikToker Lucas Battle, who is widely credited with coining the term, someone loudly budgeting wouldn’t just decline a dinner invitation, but rather say, “Sorry, can’t go out to dinner, I’ve got $7 a day to live on.”

“It was meant to be a funny idea that allows people to be financially transparent without feeling embarrassed,” Battle told Buzzfeed. “I think being honest and realistic about money should be considered stylish and cool.”

You won’t hear any arguments from financial advisors when it comes to the money part — they always think avoiding overspending and sticking to your financial plan is a good idea.

But what about the social aspect?

TikTokers may be on to something there as well, experts say. For one thing, it shows a certain emotional literacy as it pertains to money — something a lot of people tend to lack, says Brian Portnoy, a behavioral finance expert and founder of Shaping Wealth.

“I think it’s healthy,” he says.

And as long as you do it right, loud budgeting shouldn’t ruffle feathers in your social circles either, says Diane Gottsman, an etiquette expert and founder of the Protocol School of Texas.

“Loud budgeting is just another way of saying open communication,” she says.

Why loud budgeting is healthy financial psychology

Good money management requires two types of literacy, Portnoy says. One is financial literacy — the nuts and bolts of managing, investing and saving your dollars and cents. Equally important, though, is emotional literacy, especially since money tends to be an emotional “lightning rod,” Portnoy says.

“The words you use to describe what you feel as it relates to your savings and spending and investing and borrowing and all other forms of financial activity — that’s a different skillset altogether, and one that we are even more lacking in,” Portnoy says.

Loud budgeters who are willing to communicate their intentions around their money are taking a step in the right direction.

“Maybe there’s the beginning of a generational shift where it’s legitimate to talk about money issues out loud, that it’s a comfortable thing,” Portnoy says. “Or at least it’s scary, but you don’t feel like you have to hold back.”

An emotionally intelligent approach to financial planning views money as a tool to underwrite a lifestyle that brings you joy and fulfillment — a process that starts with self-awareness, Portnoy says. Once you identify the things that are important to you, the goal is no longer to make as much money as possible, but make enough to maximize the time you spend doing things you like.

Once you’ve adopted that frame of thinking, it’s easier to turn down a friend for dinner and stick to your budget if you know you’re saving for something more important, such as buying a house, having a child or another future goal.

The etiquette of loud budgeting: Be positive, but don’t overshare

Being clear with the people in your life about your financial priorities doesn’t make you rude, says Gottsman.

“You shouldn’t feel ashamed or be on the defensive. You’re communicating that you’re sticking to your financial goals,” she says. “You should feel empowered by that. It will make people more comfortable to be around you.”

Etiquette experts agree, though, that delving into specific numbers — especially in a way that makes it seem like you’re really strapped — can make others feel a little uneasy.

“I understand the reason behind it, but I’m not entirely sold,” says Thomas Farley, an etiquette expert, speaker and columnist known as Mister Manners. “I think there are ways to do it while being less divulging of your specific financial details.”

Returning to Battle’s example, saying you only have $7 a day to live on could put your friends in an awkward spot. Do you only have $7 to spend because you’re funding your future goals? Or are you hard up and in need of some help?

You’re better off mentioning that a proposed plan isn’t in your budget, and either bowing out or offering an alternative that works for you, says Farley. “You might say, ‘I checked out their menu online and all their entrees are $30 and above. Could we look at something in the $15 range?'”

You’re never in the wrong for declining an invitation for financial reasons, says Gottsman — whether you can’t afford the proposed plan or it’s something you simply don’t want to spend money on.

If you were invited to get fancy cocktails, for instance, “You might say, ‘Do we have other options?’ And if they say no, you can say ‘I’m gonna sit this one out.'” Gottsman says. “You don’t have to do every single thing. We could be out every single night if we did everything everybody wanted us to do.”

No one likes rejection, though, so keep things upbeat. Let someone know that your budget is too tight because, say, you’re saving for something else, and suggest alternative, lower-cost plans later on, Gottsman says.

“The whole idea of loud budgeting should feel positive without oversharing.”

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