A time when talking about one’s salary outside of sharing “I got a pay rise” was considered forbidden, a no-no, taboo. Where confessing “I’m on a budget” at cocktail hour and opting for a soda water instead was considered a total buzz kill.
But those times are changing, and this louder alternative is the new trend all the kids are talking about - IRL and on the socials
What is loud budgeting?
It boils down to this: people being comfortable talking more openly about money and how expensive life is.
They’re realising they can’t afford to do everything they want without going into debt or making some sacrifices, or they just want to spend according to their values, without hiding their reasons why. So, they’re not trying to hide their money goals or their personal finance limitations from their social circle. Instead, they’re happy to share them.
If you have clearly vocalised why you don’t want to spend money on something, then you’ve been a loud budgeter.
Loud budgeting over quiet luxury
Happily, ‘loud budgeting’ seems to have replaced ‘quiet luxury’ as the latest finance buzzword to gather steam, and I love it for so many reasons.
In the past, the idea of talking about your budget or your money often had a negative vibe – being on a budget meant money (or lack thereof) was getting in your way or stopping you from having fun.
This whole new trend is helping us to have discussions about our money values, and prioritising our goals while sharing them publicly. And when we talk about money more openly – including the challenges, the sacrifices and the things we gain from having a little financial discipline – we can learn so much from each other, says Tracey West, financial education manager at Ecstra Foundation.
“I think it’s important to bounce your ideas off other people and learn from their experiences, and to have a good idea of who you are, yourself, and what you value,” she said.
“You can learn a lot from speaking to other people. It’s hard to learn if you’re going to do it all on your own. So, conversations are important. It’s very different from other generations, and maybe the loud budgeting will normalise and it will become a social norm to talk about money. That aligns well with what’s happening with gender equality with pay discrepancy, as women are speaking up about rates of pay and equality, so I think it is part of the adjustment.”
Keen for inspiration to get the conversation going, I asked around and discovered some of the ways Australians are loud budgeting in 2024:
Rebecca, 33, Sydney
“I've been doing this for the last month without even realising it was a trend.
“I have a very specific goal: I've got to save thousands of dollars this year for my permanent-residency applications. So, I've been either outright refusing to socialise or stressing that I'm not spending money on food or alcohol. I will eat at home and I am more than happy to drink soda water if it means I don't have to leave the country later this year.
“The threat of deportation also works very well when I get any pushback from friends who want me to do things. I haven't paid for food out or take away this month, I've only paid for two alcoholic drinks, and I've ended the month with just over $1,000 more in the bank than normal.”
Ross G, 29, Sydney
“I drink VB. It’s cheap and it tastes OK.”
Amy, 34, Bellingen
“I’m happy to be loud and proud about my produce wins. For instance, I went blueberry picking last weekend and I got 6kg for $50, which is $8.33 per kg. I checked at Woolworths and it was $28 per kg, as a 125g punnet is $3.50. So, I saved almost $20 per kg, a total of $118. AND it was a fun day out”
Alex R, 28, Sydney
“My friend swears by his $5 Kmart t-shirts. [He] rages that they are the best quality, they last and they’re cheap – so why spend more?”
Adelaide, 32, Gold Coast
“I’m not a big drinker so if I go out with my girlfriends and we split the bill, I can easily end up spending $70+ on two drinks, not including the food bill. So, I’ve started just saying I’m not drinking at all. It’s a bit petty and awkward to start divvying up drink bills when you’ve split bottles of wine, so it’s easier to just opt out entirely if you’re money-conscious. We usually go somewhere after the main meal and I’ll have a drink there as we’re paying individually.”
Zoe, 35, Brisbane
“Throughout the year, I share my rewards barcode for both Woolies and Coles with family for them to use at checkouts. I enable all the weekly boosters, and they give me all the points with the "bank for Christmas" option selected. In return, I organise the Christmas day food and allocate a "wine budget" for each person, which I also organise. So everyone's merry.
“In 2023, we earned $310 in Woolies dollars alone. This was a huge help in covering food and drink expenses for all of us during the December holidays.”
Clare, 34, Perth
“I buy a lot of my baby's clothes off Facebook Marketplace - usually in a bundle of up to 20 pieces for about $50. She grows out of her clothes so quickly, it's not worth buying a whole new wardrobe for her every three-six months.
“A pro tip: change your location to a wealthy suburb close by, so you are more likely to get better-quality clothes.”