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I was a loud budgeter before TikTok existed

This past weekend, WilliamB sent me a Washington Post article about a TikTok trend called “loud budgeting“.

(Here’s another article about loud budgeting, not behind a paywall.)


Basically, people are doing away with any shame related to their penny-pinching, and they’re talking publicly about their money-saving efforts.

So basically they’re doing what I have been doing here since 2008. 😉

And what Amy Dacyzyn did in her Tightwad Gazette days.

A stack of books.

(though I must say, Amy’s openness is more impressive than mine because frugality was decidedly uncool back then!)

I have rarely felt ashamed of my frugality

I don’t know exactly why this is, but I have never understood people’s hesitance to discuss money and frugality.

I mean, I do understand that people have their reasons, but to me, the topic of frugality doesn’t feel even faintly embarrassing. It’s not like I’ve had to overcome any level of reticence; discussing it seems nearly as unbothersome as discussing the weather.

In years past, I have occasionally felt embarrassed or frustrated about a lack of income, but those feelings never extended to my frugal practices themselves.

Being resourceful is not embarrassing

When I think of frugality, what comes to mind is this: making a beautiful life on less.

cat behind an orange tree in a window.

As I wrote when I interviewed myself, I am not here for a life of deprivation in the name of frugality. My goal is always, always, to simply find less expensive ways to live a lovely life.

So, when I redo a piece of worn-out furniture I don’t feel embarrassed. I feel tickled with myself, and I want to show everyone who will look at it.

(This tendency does explain why I ended up as a frugality blogger. Haha.)

A before and after collage of the bookshelf.

If someone visits my house and compliments a lamp, I will 100% say, “Oooh, thank you! I got it for free on my Buy Nothing group.”


When someone says, “That dress looks lovely on you!”, I will always express my gratitude for the compliment and also slip in something like, “I got it on clearance.”

Kristen in a black dress.

I tell people all the time that I got my last two semesters of college paid for with scholarships.

And I’m not embarrassed to:

  • mend things
  • cook at home
  • buy stuff on eBay
  • purchase refurbished items
  • tackle DIY things instead of hiring someone
  • eat packed lunches
  • drink from my free conference water bottle*

*I understand this may mean that in the future, I will be the only nurse on my floor who is not drinking from a Stanley cup.

yellow metal water bottle.

I just think all these things are awesome ways that I manage to stretch my dollars and live the good life for less. And that’s not embarrassing!

I’ve often said that if someone was on the outside looking in at my life, they probably would not be able to tell that I’m pinching pennies.

But since I never keep my mouth shut about it, everyone around me has always known that I’m pinching pennies. 😉

What about when frugality isn’t a choice?

I think maybe this is a circumstance when people start to feel more ashamed.

If you could buy new clothes, but you choose to shop on eBay, that’s one thing.

If you can’t afford new clothes at all, that feels way worse.

And maybe this is where the loud budgeting movement is going to be particularly helpful; perhaps it will normalize those hard circumstances where frugality isn’t a choice.

When people share the reality of their lives, it helps others feel less alone.

More realness on social media? I support!

One of the much-talked-of downsides of social media is the faux “reality” it feeds us.

People tend to post the highlights of their lives, so as you scroll through your feed, you can easily get the impression that everyone else is traveling constantly, eating out all the time, and buying new clothes weekly.

Kristen on a hawaii hike.

Hikes in Hawaii are not actually my norm 😉

And if you mistake this for normalcy, you might be tempted to overspend to try to match what you see online.

hawaii beach.

So, some loud budgeting on social media seems like a welcome change; lots of us stay in at night, cook our food at home, and wear the same clothes over and over.

It’s more normal than people imagine.

This reminds me of a post format I saw on Instagram recently…people were sharing their normal houses, and it was refreshing.

messy counter.

We get so accustomed to seeing beautiful, airy, aesthetically-pleasing spaces, that we forget that it is quite common to have formica countertops, old tiles, and unfinished laundry rooms.

Kristen's kitchen.

Seeing a more realistic representation of life helps to recenter our perception of what normal really is.

In short…

I’m super happy to hear that loud budgeting is a thing. I hope that, unlike most trends, it will stay.

(if, on the other hand, the ASMR restocking videos go away, I won’t mind at all. 😉 )

What about you? Are you a loud budgeter or a shy one?

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Tuesday 21st of May 2024

I'm a screaming budgeter, aha! No shame in the game. My house and car are paid-off, I have zero debts and I have money aside for retirement and for the kids college. So, yeah, I'm very proud of my budgeting skills and not shy to say so. That said, I do understand people who prefer to keep it on the down low in fear of looking plain cheap.


Tuesday 21st of May 2024

While I would not characterize myself as loud, I've never shied away from sharing my frugal habits. I've practiced frugality my whole life, being raised in a large family we knew how and when to save. I do have two questions for the commenters: years ago while attending a shower, someone began folding up the gift wrap for future use. A woman next to me (and it has stayed with me all these years later) said "do people really do that?" - reuse wrapping paper and ribbons. Her derogatory comment made me feel sick and hurt for the other woman. What should I (or anyone who heard it) have said? And: my husband and I disagree on the amount spent on gifts, in particular this time of year when we get inundated with graduation announcements - many from people we do not even associate with. My husband wants to acknowledge and "be generous" to all. I do not agree. How do we compromise on this? I am much more frugal than he is and while we maintain a decent standard of living, it is nothing extravagant by any means. Help!

Central Calif. Artist Jana

Tuesday 21st of May 2024

@Teri, I would have told the woman at the shower, "Yep", with a smile, and let her stew on that. Maybe your husband could buy the gifts from his personal "Blow Money" rather than your household budget. I never know what to do with those graduation announcements or understand the purpose. If the graduate is in your life, you know and might do something; if the graduate isn't in your life, why are they sending the announcement? Yeah, yeah, there are always exceptions, but in my opinion it is as outdated tradition.

Sophie in Denmark

Tuesday 21st of May 2024

@Teri, I can't offer advice on the generosity thing other than to say maybe you can meet in the middle and agree on a set price. As for the wrapping paper, you could say 'I think it's a great idea to save the paper and help the environment'. You could say something more snide than that but it might not help the party mood!


Monday 20th of May 2024

I’m a loud shouter. Ain’t no shame in my game. And. Also love helping others find a bargain as well.

Ali in the midwest

Monday 20th of May 2024


Thank you for being authentic with us! I always try to remind myself that Facebook and instagram are other people’s highlight reels and do not always reflect accurately their life. I think the pictures of your house are visually pleasing. Your house looks warm and lived in (in a positive way!) and doesn’t look sterile, staged, or empty.


Monday 20th of May 2024

I feel that normalizing budgeting and frugality is a great service to those around us.

We've always been frugal. A memory that came back today was when our kids were school age and some 'new' item would come into the house they would ask, " where did this come from?" instead of the standard, "where did you buy this?" They knew that none of the items were bought.

Today my adult son went to haggle some more over a minivan he needs to buy. He first went to negotiate on it two weeks ago and the dealership wouldn't budge enough on price. He walked away. Yesterday the dealership called him offering to sell it to him below the price that he had offered 2 weeks ago, but he has a hard number he will buy it for and it isn't there yet. He's just waiting them out. He had checked out a book from the library on negotiation and is employing all the strategies. It's pretty fun to watch!

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