Do you remember Now that’s what I call Financial Independence? Well, here comes the follow up album. Keep an open mind…and enjoy these classics!
Don’t stop (Fleetwood Mac)
To get to FI, you’re gonna need to stay the course. To help you do this, you need a vision of your future financial independence. In this self-help classic from their 1977 album Rumours, Fleetwood Mac deliver a masterclass in visualisation, optimism and the magic of thinking big.
Fleetwood Mac remind us that yesterday’s gone and that sunk costs are irrelevant for decision making. What matters are our actions today. Don’t shaft your future self by buying shit when you need a mood boost. Thanks to the magic of compounding, £5 saved today becomes £226 if invested over the next 40 years at 10% a year.
The Escape Artist cultivates optimism and knows that equities compound in value over time. Time flies and tomorrow will soon be here. And yes, it will be better than ever before.
Bohemian Like You (The Dandy Warhols)
The best way to control spending is by never letting your lifestyle inflate in the first place. Prevention is easier than cure. When you were a student you lived cheap and (occasionally) worked hard. So why not carry on those good habits?
To eschew consumerism, we need an alternative value system. People are inherently social creatures and we can’t avoid comparing ourselves to others. Its pointless trying to go against the grain of human nature. Bohemianism represents an alternative value system where spending and conformity are not highly prized. Just because you make serious coin working in IT / finance / law / Megacorp doesn’t mean you can’t continue to spend like a student.
Welcome to the Jungle (Guns ‘n Roses)
Using the metaphor of a jungle, Guys ‘n Roses deliver their classic essay on capitalism. A jungle is a rich and productive ecosystem of organisms engaged in a mix of competition and co-operation. In nature, as in capitalism, we see a range of predatory, symbiotic and parasitic strategies. Capitalism is not inherently moral or immoral. It just happens to be the most productive system that humans have come up with to produce abundance.
This song reminds us that companies are not your friends, despite the shit they put in the adverts. If you live in a jungle (hint: you do) then you need to think for yourself. Moaning about capitalism is like moaning about the weather. It solves nothing and you are better off focussing on what you can control. Remember that capitalism, for better or worse, gives us what we are prepared to work and pay for. Capitalism’s faults are our faults.
What do you do for money honey? (AC/DC)
From their magnum opus Back in Black, comes this belter from AC/DC. The Back in Black album represents triumph over adversity: stoicism in action. Never overly concerned with health and safety, AC/DC suffered a blow when their lead singer died on a night of excess alcohol consumption. Most bands would have fallen to pieces at this point but AC/DC were made of sterner stuff and returned with their greatest work, in tribute to Bon Scott. The album also includes the song Have a Drink on Me. Which, as song titles go, may seem edgy after their last lead singer died from alcohol. But that’s male humour for you.
AC/DC give voice to the potentially tricky question that all financially independent people face. Actually the question “what do you do?” is a bit of a misnomer. When asked this, I respond honestly, telling people that I enjoy life, manage a portfolio, write a blog, exercise a lot and help raise 3 children. But what most people are really asking is what do you do for money, honey?
Shake it off (Taylor Swift)
What do you do if other people say you’re “tight” because you save money? You shake it off!
What I love about this pop pleaser is that what might appear on the surface as just another bubble gum ditty is actually laced with profound wisdom and stoicism (again) . This is self-help gold for anyone learning how to master their emotions.
Swift highlights the benefits of optimism and resilience…especially when other people are under-estimating or trash-talking you. Other people are going to do what they are going to do. Haters are gonna hate. Complainers are gonna complain and leave angry comments on blogs. Swift’s song reminds us that we just need to play the hand we are dealt, focus on what we can control and ignore the noise.
Material Girl (Madonna)
One of the biggest obstacles to financial independence is choosing the wrong significant other.
Its important for younger guys to realise that, on a biological level, men have to compete for short-term mating. But women have to compete more for commitment (e.g. marriage, child-rearing). Sadly, lots of guys follow a sucker strategy in the mating market, competing on the basis of ridiculous spending.
Be warned. If you end up attracting, marrying and enabling the character that Madonna artfully portrays in this song, then you will never achieve financial independence. She will get the gold mine and you will get the shaft.
The Escape Artist always admired Madonna. She is the very opposite of a gold digger: hard-working, intelligent and talented. And financially independent without relying on a man.
Young Guns (Wham)
Most people don’t realise, but this is another song about mate choice and financial independence. With hindsight, this might be the unintentionally funniest pop video of the 1980s. And there was a lot of competition back then.
George Michael starts with an assertive greeting of Hey Sukka! reminiscent of a young Mr Money Mustache. Like MMM, Michael advises overcoming fear, pursuing freedom and going for it. No fears, no tears, what I wanna be. Also like MMM, at a young age George Michael recognised the dangers of hire purchase finance. Michael warns: A married man? you’re out of your head, sleepless nights on an HP bed. In response, Ridgeley’s finance shows her consumer mindset: We’ve got plans to make, we’ve got things to buy. Ridgeley must choose between freedom and consumerism. It all kicks off but fortunately Michael resists the temptation to deliver a Mustachian face punch.
Note the irony of George Michael giving relationship advice. This is a violation of The Principles of Lifehacking. Only take advice from experts who have demonstrated a track record of success and have no conflict of interest with you. Never ask a barber if you need a haircut. Ridgeley should have realised: never ask an in-the-closet gay guy if you should get married.
Fruit Machine (Ting Tings)
This song encourages us to think like long term investors and warns us of the dangers of gambling. This song is a mixture of lyrical poetry and sound financial advice. The Ker-ching strapline runs through the song reminding us of the value of motivation.
You can’t invest in wealth generating assets like equities or property if you put your deposit into a machine in return for flashing lights and noises in your head.
Turn your pockets out onto the street, now you see you’ve spend it all on me…now you’re skint, here’s a pair of sympathies.
The little we had you’ve thrown it all away. Doh!
The Ting Tings are reminding us that ridiculous spending is alive and well in Britain.
Money, Money, Money (Abba)
Frida Lyngstad highlights the problems of a harried working woman suffering from stress and lifestyle inflation. Perhaps she worked at a Magic Circle law firm? She certainly seems to have picked the bad habits that many lawyers suffer from: I work all night, I work all day…to pay the bills I have to pay…ain’t it sad…and still there never seems to be a single penny left for me. That’s too bad.
True, its not the most financially literate song…but what do you expect from a lawyer? You should ignore Abba’s advice to visit Las Vegas or Monaco in order to get rich (although the stuff about finding a rich partner can work). But Abba were definitely onto something when they sang about the freedom to quit work and do whatever you want: all the things I could do, if I had a little money… I wouldn’t have to work at all…I’d fool around and have a ball.
Now that is a strategy The Escape Artist can get behind!
Money for Nothing (Dire Straits)
I loved this song in the mid 80s based on an affinity for guitar-based rock, mullets and pastel coloured clothing. The song can be interpreted in different ways but I see 2 main themes playing out here.
On one hand, the song mocks MTV and excess spending on consumer products whilst highlighting the numerous advantages of passive income.
On the other hand, Mark Knopfler seems derogatory in his description of the financially independent subject of the song, perhaps reflecting some inner conflict about his working class roots and his own good fortune in becoming a rock star. Through the medium of this song, Knopfler was perhaps resolving the guilt he may have felt about becoming rich without manual labour.
Relax Mark, you earned it!
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