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8 Great Songs about Personal Finance

By Kira Botkin

Steel guitarRock stars didn’t start out rich, and they often bring a certain mindset about money and finances to their songwriting. Believe it or not, some of their songs offer some really interesting perspectives that apply to our own lives.

I’ve taken some of my favorite lines from eight popular rock and pop songs that incorporate financial lessons we can all relate to. Check them out and feel free to add any other song lines that should be in this list!

1. “Fixing a Hole” by the Beatles

I’m fixing a hole where the rain gets in, to stop my mind from wandering…

It pays to learn to do small home improvements on your own, and while doing roof repairs might not be the best place to start, you too can “paint the room in a colorful way” for much less than hiring a contractor.

2. “Can’t Buy Me Love” by the Beatles

Say you don’t need no diamond rings, and I’ll be satisfied
Tell me that you want the kind of things, that money just can’t buy
I don’t care too much for money
Money can’t buy me love

Another classic – money can buy you lots of things, but it won’t give you close friends and family. Make sure part of your budget is set aside for fun things to keep you connected with those you’re closest to. Don’t sacrifice other aspects of your life just to make a bit more money.

3. “Money (That’s What I Want)” by Barrett Strong

Money don’t get everything it’s true
What it don’t get, I can’t use

Of course on the other hand, sometimes we feel like we have friends and family and all those warm and fuzzy intangibles out the wazoo, but it won’t pay the bills! This is a bit of a cynical line, but it lays down the hard truth that money is essential for some things in life.

4. “If I Had a Million Dollars” by Barenaked Ladies

If I had a million dollars, I’d build a treefort in our yard
If I had a million dollars, you could help it wouldn’t be that hard
If I had a million dollars, maybe we could put a refrigerator in there!

What would you do if you won the lottery and got a million dollars? For most of us, our dreams aren’t about yachts and diamonds, but things a little closer to home and heart. I don’t know about you, but a treefort with a refrigerator in it sounds like a lot more fun than a yacht.

5. “Money For Nothing” by Dire Straits

I shoulda learned to play the guitar
I shoulda learned to play them drums
And he’s up there, what’s that? Hawaiian noises?
Bangin’ on the bongoes like a chimpanzee

It’s no mystery why so many people idolize rock stars, athletes, and others who seem to have vaulted to the top of the world overnight. They seem to be getting “money for nothing” just because they are famous. However, we don’t see the years before they became famous which were spent doing nothing but lousy gigs in smelly dive bars or going to batting practice for hours a day, day after day. And your financial future can be built just the same, making good financial decisions day after day. Start small and work your way up with discipline and hard work.

6. “Can’t Always Get What You Want” by the Rolling Stones

You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometimes
You just might find
You get what you need

One of the biggest issues in trying to save money is determining the difference between wants and needs. When you’ve got your mind set on a want, it can definitely make you cranky if needs have to come first! But if you budget and save over time, you can get your needs and your wants.

7. “I Will Buy You A New Life” by Everclear

I will buy you a garden, where your flowers can bloom
I will buy you a new car, perfect shiny and new
I will buy you that big house, way up in the west hills
I will buy you a new life

Just like the Beatles told us, money can’t buy you the things that are really important in life. But it feels sometimes like money is the way out of every bad situation we find ourselves in – can’t we just buy a whole new life and start over? Without changing ourselves, though, we end up right back where we started, and in this song, you can buy someone every trapping of the good life, but you can’t buy their trust or a feeling of security.

8. “Mercedes Benz” by Janis Joplin

Oh Lord won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz.
My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends.
Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends.
So oh Lord won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz

And of course, a classic! We all have an occasional wish that good fortune would simply fall from the skies, and it does feel unfair sometimes when we work hard and still can’t get the things we want. Janis Joplin takes a more direct approach and simply asks God for a Mercedes Benz. But there are two things to learn here: 1) Hard work, more than anything else, is what will allow you to obtain your wants and needs; they won’t just be handed to you on a silver platter 2) Just because your friends drive Porsches doesn’t mean that going for the same things that your friends value will also make you happy.

What’s your favorite personal finance related song? What’s your favorite lesson of these eight songs?

(photo credit: wakajawaka)

Kira Botkin
Kira is a longtime blogger and serial entrepreneur who enjoys gardening, garage sales, and finding stray animals. She lives in Columbus, Ohio, where football is a distinct season, and by day runs a research study for people with multiple sclerosis. She hopes that the MoneyCrashers team can help you achieve your goals and live a great life.

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