The Best and Worst Financial Advice Found in Songs


Have you ever taken a piece of financial advice from a song? Maybe you did it without even realizing. Here are a few of the best and worst songs when it comes to financial advice.

Barenaked Ladies – If I had a million dollars (If I had a million dollars) / I’d buy you an exotic pet (Like a llama or an emu)

If you suddenly come into a million dollars I can recommend not blowing part of it on llamas or emus. As exotic pets go these aren’t particularly pricey animals but why would you want one anyway? I recently wrote about the problems caused by Mike Tyson’s extravagant spending on nonsense like a Bengali tiger and you don’t want to follow his lead, do you?

The Beatles  – Mean Mister Mustard sleeps in the park /Shaves in the dark trying to save paper / Sleeps in a hole in the road / Saving up to buy some clothes / Keeps a ten bob note up his nose

It seems that the gentleman in this song is a bit short of cash. However, as saving tactics go, shaving in the dark isn’t really a great move. I’m not even sure why this would save paper anyway. Bank accounts are generally safer places for your cash then in your nasal passages (a ten bob note is an old type of UK money).

Busta Rhymes –Floss a little / invest up in a mutual fund

I have to say that I am not entirely aware of the full Busta Rhymes musical repertoire. However, I am impressed by how he deftly covers both dental and financial matters in the song Dangerous. Of course, flossing regularly will save you on trips to the dentist as well as giving you a nicer smile, so this advice is a winner all round. That is, unless flossing is particularly hideous rap slang for something like shooting people in the neck instead of cleaning your teeth.

Madonna – Cause the boy with the cold hard cash /is always Mister Right

Am I the only person who hates the song Material girl by Madonna? The financial wisdom she dispenses here is that anyone with lots of money is a good potential partner. That doesn’t sound all that great to me. What if you meet a rich guy (or girl) who wastes his money on llamas or is so mean that his nose is stuffed full of his savings? Sure, if it is a sensible dude like Mr Busta Rhymes you are fine, but choosing life partners purely because of financial status is a risky game.
The Rolling Stones – You can’t always get what you want / But if you try sometimes you might find / you get what you need

This isn’t strictly speaking financial advice but I have included it because it makes a lot of sense in many different situations. If you try and aim for something that you want but don’t need (dare I mention llamas again?) then you might not get it. However, life has a way of giving you what you really need if you try to get it.

Notorious B.I.G. – It’s like the more money we come across / the more problems we see

I am going to make another foray into the world of rap here, to see what a chap called Notorious B.I.G. has to say on his song Mo Money Mo Problems. This isn’t straight financial advice but we can extrapolate some advice out of it. Basically, our rapping buddy is telling us that the more money you have the more problems you can find. This can definitely be true at times and you should make sure that you adapt your lifestyle and expectations as your income and savings grow. At least, I think that’s what he means.

What other songs give out financial advice worth mentioning?

14 Responses to The Best and Worst Financial Advice Found in Songs

  1. Jamie V says:

    Hmm I haven’t thought about that Barenaked Ladies song in years! In the defense of camelids, when I had extra cash, I did buy two alpacas as an investment. The return that will eventually come from it will propel me further into my plans. So I both agree and disagree: one should not just go out and buy a llama for the hell of it. There has to be a point to it, a purpose, for it to matter. Since I plan to own a farm with a herd of alpacas, in my case, it’s not wasted money. Of course, not everyone has a dream of being a farmer when they grow up. It’s too bad that someone can’t write a song solely about good personal finance that becomes a pop hit and teaches the general masses about handling money (I think the mathematical equation to produce a hit pop song has been discovered and used to make even more pop songs). Paired with Tom Lehrer’s “The Elements” song, we’d have a learning party!

    • Robert Bell says:

      Buying alpacas for financial reasons is a good move Jamie. Unless my memory is playing tricks on me their wool is so fine that the Incan leaders reserved it all purely for their own clothes. These days it is pretty expensive too. I am not sure the Barenakes Ladies were thinking along those lines, though

  2. No, you are not the only one who hates that Madonna song. I hated it from the moment I first heard it. But then again, the title says “Material Girl”. Okay, fine. I still don’t like it; just the song, not the artist.

  3. “For The Love Of Money” by the Bulletboys (actually it’s a remake) tells about the dangers of loving money. What can I say, I’m a hard rock fan. 🙂

  4. There’s a lady who’s sure all that glitters is gold
    And she’s buying a stairway to heaven.
    When she gets there she knows, if the stores are all closed
    With a word she can get what she came for.
    Ooh, ooh, and she’s buying a stairway to heaven.

    Led Zeppelin – Stairway to Heaven

    • Robert Bell says:

      I might have included that song if I could have worked out what it meant Richard. I have always wondered what on Earth they are on about.

  5. Money by Pink Floyd instantly sprung to mind as well as Get a Job by The Offspring and then a British band called Hard-Fi with a song called Cash Machine. There is some certainly some basic monetary advice in there. Get a job, make more money and spending too much.

    • Robert Bell says:

      Money almost made the list but was rejected because of my pathological dislike of Pink Floyd. The others sound worth checking out

  6. What a creative post! My favorite line from the Bare Naked Ladies song: “I’d buy you a green dress but not a real green dress that’s cruel.” I’m taking this line as advising us not to spend our money on ugly crap. Always solid advice 🙂

    Disclosure: I do happen to actually own a green dress that I really really like 🙂

    • Robert Bell says:

      Not wasting money on ugly green dresses is one of the best pieces of advice possible Dee. I am sure yours is lovely, though

  7. Gwen Stefani’s ‘If I was a Rich girl’ is a good one, too. Although she does admit in the song that all the riches in the world wouldn’t mean anything without you. 🙂

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