Music offers a surprising array of benefits to listeners. Its primary aim is entertainment, but it also allows for artistic expression. Some songs are energizing, some are relaxing, and others, research suggests, can even improve physical and emotional health and manage pain.
But did you know music can also teach us about money? While you shouldn’t comb your Spotify playlists for stock market advice, you might find a few financial nuggets of wisdom embedded in your favorite songs.
Here’s a selection of songs from various eras and genres that are all about money, whether saving or spending it. They might nudge you to think more about your finances and relate to other people’s struggles and triumphs with their cash.
So if you’re like Rihanna and you’ve got your mind on your money, check out these 13 songs about finance that span the decades.
13 Songs About Saving Money
In each finance song on this list (arranged chronologically by release year), the artist shares a different viewpoint on personal finance. Some singers glorify money; others show us that there are more important things in life. Some singers tout the independence that money gives them and the hard work that got them there; others dream of making more.
No matter what money lessons you take from the music, one thing’s for sure: These 13 songs about saving money (or spending it) will be stuck in your head all day.
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1. “Pennies from Heaven” by Bing Crosby (1973)
The oldest finance song on our list comes from the legendary Bing Crosby and the film of the same name. “Pennies from Heaven” reflects the general feelings of the time. Released during the Great Depression, the song yearns for the financial freedom of the Roaring ’20s yet provides hope that the country will weather the storm.
2. “Sittin’ in the Sun” by Louis Armstrong, Jack Pleiss, & His Orchestra (1953)
The next saving money song on our list comes from the legendary Louis Armstrong. “Sittin’ in the Sun” is so powerful that it made it on an album of his greatest hits. Armstrong paints a simple picture of sitting in the golden sunshine and counting one’s money. He speaks of the comfort of knowing what’s stored in his bank account.
Though Armstrong likely had a different point to make, his song is a reminder that having an emergency fund socked away is never a bad idea.
3. “Can’t Buy Me Love” by the Beatles (1964)
One of the Beatles’ biggest hits takes a more scathing view of money. Sure, it can buy you diamond rings, as Paul McCartney points out. But the one thing money can’t get you — no matter how much of it you have — is love. It’s a simple but crucial lesson: Money’s necessary for survival and can get you nice things, but the most important things in life can’t be bought.
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4. “Money” by Pink Floyd (1973)
A well-covered hit from the Dark Side of the Moon album, “Money” starts with the “ka-ching” and register sounds of retail transactions. It’s a haunting sound once you know the lyrics that soon follow: The song serves as a reminder that money and greed can be bad. The lesson to walk away with? While it’s important for your family’s safety, health, and comfort to have money, don’t forget to share with those less fortunate and to take time for more important things.
Quick Money Tip: If you’re saving for a short-term goal — whether it’s a vacation, a wedding, or the down payment on a house — consider opening a high-yield bank account. The higher APY that you’ll earn will help your money grow faster, but the funds stay liquid, so they are easy to access when you reach your goal.
5. “Money, Money, Money” by Abba (1976)
“Money, Money, Money” by Abba paints a picture of a girl who works hard but is still struggling with her bills.
She hopes to land a rich guy because it’s “always sunny in a rich man’s world.” But if that doesn’t work, she contemplates going to Vegas or Monaco and gambling her way to wealth. Perhaps not the wisest of financial plans, but with a fun rhythm and lighthearted lyrics, it’s easy to see why this song is one of Abba’s biggest hits.
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6. “The Gambler” by Kenny Rogers (1978)
An example of brilliant storytelling, “The Gambler” could have several deeper interpretations — and may spark a debate between listeners as to whether the titular gambler dies at the end. On the surface, though, it’s a killer song about two men on a train, one of whom is a gambler sharing important advice: “You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, and know when to run.”
7. “She Works Hard for the Money” by Donna Summer (1983)
One of the most popular songs by the Disco Queen is “She Works Hard for the Money.” It’s hard not to jump up and dance when this one comes on the radio, especially if you can relate to the protagonist: a woman who works day in and day out to provide for herself. The lesson here? People who work hard, no matter how much they make or what line of work they’re in, deserve respect and credit for what they do.
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8. “If I Had $1,000,000” by Barenaked Ladies (1988)
This song doesn’t take itself too seriously — just as you’d expect from a group that calls itself Barenaked Ladies. But somewhere in all the silly lyrics, you’ll notice a theme: Though the singer may splurge on a limousine or, weirdly, John Merrick’s remains, he insinuates that money wouldn’t change him or his partner.
They’d still eat Kraft dinners, just more of them (and with fancy ketchup). The takeaway from this song is that money can change who we are, but we shouldn’t let it.
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9. “Mo Money Mo Problems” by Notorious B.I.G. (1997)
Perhaps the clearest finance lesson from these songs that talk about money hails from this hit from Notorious B.I.G. The takeaway, after all, is right there in the title. As we hear in the song, “It’s like the more money we come across, the more problems we see.” Money can solve a lot of problems, but don’t forget that it can bring on new problems you might not be expecting.
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10. “Bills, Bills, Bills” by Destiny’s Child (1999)
How could we put together a list of songs about saving money without featuring Beyoncé? This song, which came out when Bey was still in Destiny’s Child, is all about female empowerment. In it, the protagonist is in a relationship with a man who is using her for her money — and she’s having none of it. The song is a healthy reminder that, while it’s OK to treat friends, family, and partners to nice things, you shouldn’t let yourself be taken advantage of.
11. “Billionaire” by Travie McCoy feat. Bruno Mars (2010)
“Billionaire” is a song that many of us can relate to. Most people will never become a billionaire, but it’s fun to imagine what we’d do if we had that much money. While the song is playful and isn’t packed with useful tips, it’s a reminder that it’s OK to have big financial dreams. Some may be unrealistic, but you need a big dream to keep you motivated and working hard.
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12. “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat. Wanz (2012)
Macklemore’s brand of humor is on full display in “Thrift Shop.” In it, the rapper criticizes spending money on designer clothes when there are so many better finds in thrift shops. Sure, it’s OK to splurge on yourself now and then, but being frugal — whether it’s shopping at thrift stores, packing a lunch, or borrowing books and movies from the library — is a great way to save money and build your wealth.
13. “Budapest” by George Ezra (2014)
The final entry on our list of songs about saving money comes from George Ezra and carries a message similar to “Can’t Buy Me Love.” In “Budapest,” Ezra promises his love interest that he would abandon all his wealth and belongings if it means he could be with the one he loves. This song is yet another reminder that possession may be nice but our relationships with people are even nicer.
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Music can entertain us, energize us, relax us, and even heal us. But it can also teach us — about life, about love, and yes, even about money. These 13 songs about finance are just the tip of the iceberg. So turn on the radio or dig through your music streaming service, and put in those earbuds the next time you’re working on your budget. You just may learn something useful.
Photo credit: iStock/Talaj
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