Some may call it a rather extreme measure, but TikTok users are breaking down their monthly and weekly spending via public videos as an attempt to save more money by holding themselves publicly accountable. 

A run of high inflation and rising interest rates have taken a toll on Americans. Nearly a third of adults wouldn’t have been able to cover an unexpected $400 expense with cash or its equivalent, according to a Federal Reserve survey. About 60% of all Americans lived paycheck to paycheck in March, according to a recurring survey by digital lender LendingClub, and PYMNTS, a data-analysis company. 

In short videos, people begin by revealing their take-home pay, and in under 60 seconds whittle it down to near zero by enumerating the bills for food, rent, credit cards, utilities, saving and streaming. Described as “payday routines,” they go into minute detail on spending on groceries, dining out, drinks, car payments and travel. The hashtag #paydayroutine has 52.9 million views to date.

The creators behind these videos say going public creates accountability to stay on track, and hopefully helps others, too. Behavioural finance researchers say they may be on to something.

Having to share your results publicly makes you less likely to stray, said Katy Milkman, a professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania to the Wall Street Journal who studies behavioural change. She compared it to the fitness benefits of having a gym buddy.

This is another appeal of the payday videos, viewers say—the chance to see how your peers are wrestling with the same money struggles.

Many creators also find the trend appealing as it is still taboo to talk about money and financial habits with friends and Family. 

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