'Loud budgeting' is trending – here's what HR can learn

There’s a reason trends go viral. It’s because they tap into the zeitgeist and vocalise something lots of us are thinking. This is certainly the case with 'loud budgeting'. 

Loud budgeting is a TikTok phenomenon that has grabbed headlines after creator Lukas Battle made a video about the term. As the cost of living crisis rages on, the trend is all about rebranding frugality as something to embrace, and talking openly about our finances to inform and help others. 

At a personal level, the knock-on positive effects are clear. Sharing what we’re paying for our bills, rent or car insurance can help others spot where they might be overpaying. Most of us have no idea how much we could save by switching to fairer deals; for a typical household, it’s easily £500-plus per year – enough for a holiday.

Do more to support employee financial wellbeing

TikTok posts about loud budgeting have clocked up millions of views. That’s all good and viral. But what can HR learn?

Communication is everything 

First of all, loud budgeting is a reminder to HR about the power of communication. Keep employees in the loop about company performance; failing to do this only leaves space for speculation and rumours.

Plus, this creates an environment in which leaders can set realistic expectations about the things employees really care about (read: pay rises and bonuses). Be transparent if the economic downturn is having an impact on business performance. Employees aren't naive; they know that businesses don't always boom. What people won't accept is being kept in the dark, only to be informed of issues at their next pay review. 

Handle cost of living conversations head-on 

Even though inflation has cooled in recent months – falling from the double-digit peaks we saw in 2020 – it hasn’t disappeared completely. Plus, rising prices now come on top of two years of soaring bills, and coincide with the highest interest rates since the financial crash. Right now, around four in 10 energy bill payers are struggling to afford payments, and a third are finding it difficult to pay their rent or mortgage.

How to deliver financial wellbeing that works

There’s no escaping this reality. So if there’s one thing I'd love for HR leaders to learn from loud budgeting, it’s the power of facing the conversation head-on. 

This can take a few different forms. You could start by training managers to deal with cost of living concerns when they’re raised, ensuring they’re equipped to respond sensitively and productively to questions. Any training should involve building an understanding of the mental burden that rising living costs can create, as well as the obvious financial consequences.

You could also provide access to financial tools designed to help save employees money on their bills, or help them find the best mortgage deal. Soaring bills and mortgage rates are at the heart of the problem for many of us, so practical support that eases the load can be a huge help.

Appoint a 'cost of living champion'

If getting your entire organisation on board with loud budgeting at once is too much to ask, an immediate solution could be to appoint a 'cost of living champion'. This is a person or team of people whose responsibility it is to assess the financial wellbeing of employees, understand their pain points and implement initiatives to support their financial health.

How can HR help employees in fuel poverty?

A cost of living champion might provide guidance on things like budgeting, financial planning, saving and investing, and promote solutions that help solve employees’ financial concerns. They could also be in charge of creating a supportive community at work where people can raise money worries and crowdsource tips. Loud budgeting is all about the power of sharing when it comes to money, after all.

Making this somebody’s responsibility creates accountability and means that employees are clear on where to go if they need help.

Talk about goals as well as budgets 

Yes, a big part of loud budgeting is about budgeting (the clue’s in the name.) But it’s also about sharing our financial goals and aspirations, so friends and colleagues can help us get there. 

There’s no doubt that times are tough. But it’s still possible to look ahead and set positive financial goals for your company, individuals and teams. Not every loud budgeting conversation has to be about tackling immediate financial challenges. Make sure you’re injecting optimism and positivity into the conversation too.

HR is in a unique position to introduce initiatives that can ease both the mental and financial load of rising costs, and to financially empower teams. There’s lots we can learn from loud budgeting. Putting those learnings into practice will pay off.

By Jon Rudoe, employee money-saving expert and co-founder at Nous.co