The year 2015 was a banner one for popular music. Bruno Mars brought the funk uptown. The Weeknd couldn’t feel his face. Adele whispered “Hello” and broke album sales records. Great moments all, but what did they have to teach us about personal finance? As it turns out, not much.
But that doesn’t mean the year didn’t offer other musical moments that delivered both a good beat and good financial lessons. Here are five of our favorites.
“B*tch Better Have My Money”
When it comes to songs from 2015 with strong personal finance overtones, let’s not kid ourselves—there’s a clear winner, and it’s “B*tch Better Have My Money” by Rihanna.
The song was released in March, and, even though other recording artists had a full nine months to come up with something better, none did. Indeed, it remains the “drop mic” anthem of those seeking financial remuneration.
“B*tch better have my money,” Ri-Ri sings at the beginning. “Please don’t call me on my bluff. Pay me what you owe me.”
Two criticisms must be levied against the tune—the lyrics are somewhat repetitive, and scant actional advice is offered. (And warning: the video is violent.) But what the song lacks in specific instruction, it more than makes up for with pure, righteous vinegar that suggests if you’re forceful enough when advocating for yourself, it will bring you untold financial success.
In February 2015, LunchMoney Lewis released his hit debut single, “Bills,” the lyrics of which consist of a litany of monetary complaints.
The song tells the all-too-familiar story of—you guessed it—overdue bills piling up, and even though LunchMoney Lewis goes to “work, work, work every day,” he just can’t seem to catch up. At one point, he’s “in the grocery line, praying that [his] card don’t get declined.”
What we’d tell Mr. Lewis? If covering basic expenses—like your rent or mortgage, utilities, and food—each month is a burden, take a hard look at your budget and find meaningful ways to scale back. (Hint: Start with these everyday expenses you’re probably overpaying.)
Big Sean’s song “Blessings” comes from his 2015 studio album, “Dark Sky Paradise,” and features contributions from Drake and possible 2020 presidential candidate Kanye West. In it, Big Sean describes treating those around him with consideration and generosity—but don’t mistake him for a pushover.
“It’s some checks you owe us,” he says. “I expect that payment, nothin’ less or over.”
Not unlike Rihanna’s money anthem, this song demonstrates the importance of zealously defending oneself in situations wherein money is owed.
He also talks about stepping up when other people are depending on you financially, and working hard to reach your goals. “My grandma just died, I’m the man of the house. So every mornin’ I’m up cause I can’t let them down,” he says. “I’m going overtime on the overtime…Million dollar goals, man it’s to manifest it.”
As Big Sean demonstrates, no matter what your goals are, staying focused on them can help keep you motivated to stay on track financially. (And knowing others are counting on you–or holding you accountable–can be a powerful motivator too.)
The duo Twenty One Pilots had their commercial breakthrough in 2015 with their sophomore album, “Blurryface.” Its third single, “Stressed Out” was released six weeks after the album debuted, and although the song doesn’t say much more than “adulthood is more stressful than childhood,” it’s a sentiment that’s hard to find fault with.
“Out of student loans and treehouse homes we all would take the latter,” the duo sing, fondly recalling a simpler time.
Considering average student loan debt now stands at $28,950, they do have a point. Fortunately, there a lot of resources available to help you wipe out your balance—and some stress—faster, including repayment assistance programs (offered by universities, employers and states), income-driven repayment plans, and public service forgiveness programs.
“$ave Dat Money”
Mid-summer, hip hop artist Lil Dicky released his first single “$ave Dat Money.” While just about every other song on the airwaves these days seems to revel in conspicuous consumption, “$ave Dat Money” urges keeping your hard-earned cash to yourself. (In fact, the music video follows the rapper as he hilariously attempts to persuade homeowners, yacht owners, club bouncers and luxury car dealerships to let him shoot his video on their property for free.)
“Rap game got it all wrong,” Lil Dicky says, before launching into a list of all his savvy money habits, including buying generic prescription drugs, skipping bars with cover charges, and never forgetting to “check the check, do the math” on his restaurant bill. After all, he’s not trying to pay for yourmargarita on his credit card.
Hey, with the average credit card rate hovering around 16% APR these days—and rising—can you blame him?
This story has been updated.
January 11, 2016