June 28, 2024

Exploring the no-spend trend on TikTok and encouraging students to find their influencers

Be sure to check out the suggested Huddle question at the bottom of this article to discuss this important topic with your students in class, if you feel it is appropriate.

With 43.5% of Gen Z getting financial advice from social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram, students are increasingly turning to influencers for financial literacy. Recently, financial influencers on TikTok have revived an old social media challenge: the no-spend trend.

The no-spend trend encourages cutting back on spending for a designated period. Participating students track how many days they can go without buying non-essentials like Starbucks coffee, new clothes, and eating out. Similar to the 2023 TikTok trend #Deinfluencing, the no-spend trend aims to combat the overspending many students experience on social media. However, financial experts warn that this quick-fix challenge can be “hard to sustain over time” and may lead to impulsive purchases later.

Students’ spending habits are primarily shaped by what they see being promoted online, what their peers buy, and the advice they get from their favorite financial influencers. With many students getting summer jobs or managing their money independently for the first time, it is more important than ever that educators steer students in the right direction regarding financial advice. By equipping students with the right information and skills, they can avoid overspending financial misinformation and find financial influencers that align with their goals.

Understanding financial literacy with positive influencers

After a short stint in January, a financial challenge has resurfaced on TikTok: the no-spend trend. Originally created as a way to start the new year financially strong, this trend is essentially a spending detox or fast, which some say is a way to help students cut back on overspending. The no-spend challenge is simple: participants cut out non-essential spending, like Starbucks, new clothes, or eating out, for a set period—whether a week, month, or year. They track their progress and aim to stick to the rules for as many days as possible

While the no-spend trend may seem easy and fun for students to curb overspending, experts warn it’s challenging to maintain. Gregory Stoller, a business professor at Boston University, says just as people “often fail to uphold their New Year’s resolutions, it’s even easier to break a no-buy promise with a simple click,” highlighting the fact that this challenge could be hard to keep up with over time. Besides the lack of sustainability, there is also the risk of phenomena such as doom spending, which 27% of people engage in and can occur when a person needs a better outlook on the future of their finances. Instead of quick-fix challenges like the no-spend trend, experts urge people not to take shortcuts to “practicing good money habits” and instead focus on setting realistic goals, budgets, and expectations

With over 100,000 financial influencers on Instagram, students increasingly turn to social media for financial advice. While some tips can be helpful, there’s also potential for misinformation. The no-spend trend, for example, might work for some students but could create bad financial habits for others.

Some students may need guidance to help them navigate their financial literacy challenges. Educators can actively improve their students’ financial literacy by guiding them toward trusted financial resources and information. They can also empower students to question the financial information they see on social media, encouraging students to figure out what financial habits and influencers work best for them. 

TSI’s Take

In 2023, students made up 18% of summer hires — up from 15% from the year before. For some students, this summer may be their first time in the workforce, meaning they will potentially be making financial decisions on their own for the first time. And with the increasing presence of financial influencers and trends, students may follow social media advice that doesn’t align with their financial goals or capabilities. This summer, it is more important than ever for students to find positive and credible influencers for financial advice. 

Educators, as role models, can guide students through the complexities of financial literacy and the information they encounter on social media. They can also help point students toward trustworthy and realistic financial information. 

Here are some strategies educators can use to support their students in finding financial information and influencers that are the best fit for their goals: 

  • Teach financial literacy basics: Educate students on important financial basics, such as budgeting, saving, the ins and outs of credit, and more. Emphasize that quick fixes, like the no-spend trend, are easy but may not be the smartest choice in the long run. 
  • Promote critical thinking: Encourage students to evaluate the financial advice they encounter on social media critically. By doing their own research from reputable sources, students can avoid falling victim to financial misinformation.
  • Identify trustworthy sources: Help students identify reputable financial influencers that provide reliable and unbiased advice. Remind students to question the motives behind influencers’ financial advice and that not all financial advice will work for them.

Interested in how The Social Institute can support your school in empowering students for their financial future and guiding them to navigate social media and technology responsibly? Request a demo of our peer-to-peer learning platform that uses a positive and proactive approach to empowering students to make high-character decisions as they navigate their well-being, social media, and technology. 

#WinAtSocial Huddle Question

Huddle with your students
How can we find positive and trustworthy financial influencers on social media? Who are some that you have seen online? 

The Social Institute (TSI) is the leader in empowering students by understanding students. Through #WinAtSocial, our gamified, peer-to-peer learning platform, we equip students, educators, and families to navigate their social world – in the classroom and beyond, online and offline – in healthy, high-character ways. Our unique, student-respected approach empowers and equips, rather than scares and restricts. We incorporate timely topics about social media, tech use, and current events that are impacting student well-being and learning. #WinAtSocial Lessons teach life skills for the modern day, capture student voice, and provide school leaders with actionable insights. Through these insights, students play an essential role in school efforts to support their own health, happiness, and future success as we enable high-impact teaching, meaningful family conversations, and a healthy school culture.