Top 5 Money Lessons from Prince

I was working on a bathroom remodel in the basement today, listening to Hawaii’s New Music Alternative Star 101.9 via the magic of the internet, when the eerily majestic “Purple Rain” came on.

I knew something was amiss. This station’s idea of a throwback classic is spinning a tune from Sublime‘s 1996 self-titled album, and they never play pop music from the eighties. When the DJs came back on, they shared the news. Prince died.

Celebrity deaths don’t normally affect me much. At least the news doesn’t ever put a lump in my throat or make my eyes all glossy. But as the afternoon slot on the alt rock station became a Prince tribute, I got that lump with each classic hit they played. When my wife came home. I shared the news with her, stopping short as I found it strangely difficult to speak.

What can I say? I grew up with his songs, he was a musical genius, and apparently I’m kind of a sensitive guy.

I had a different post lined up for you all today, but I have to put that one off for a few days.

In tribute,

The Top 5 Money Lessons from Prince:


1. Raspberry Beret (reached #2 in 1985)

“She wore a raspberry beret.” What kind of raspberry beret? “The kind you find in a secondhand store.” Good for her. What else did she wear? “If it was warm, she wasn’t wearing much more.” My kind of girl! The lesson to be gleaned here is that secondhand can be sexy. Designer outfits don’t make the girl, it’s what’s underneath that matters. Quoting Prince’s #1 hit Kiss from 1986, “You don’t have to be rich to be my girl”.

Where did Prince meet this lovely lass in the thrift store hat? He “was working part time in a five-and-dime”. Good for him. I doubt Mr. McGee paid him much more than minimum wage. Later in the song, Prince takes her on his bike (he was surely referring to a motorcycle, but I like to think it might have been a Schwinn or a Huffy) and they hook up in a barn “down by old man Johnson’s farm”. Can you just smell the hay? Yeah, that’s hot.

2. Thieves in the Temple (reached #6 in 1990)

“They don’t care where they kick / Just as long as they hurt you / There are thieves in the temple tonight.” When you have a good salary, you have a target on your back.

I’m not talking about ninjas shimmying up your castle’s corner tower, I’m talking about men and women in suits with a nice smile and a firm handshake. They may be commissioned salesman disguised as financial planners, or a distant relative asking for a “loan” for a scheme business venture that’s pretty much a sure thing. Just say no. Protect yourself; there are thieves in the temple tonight.


3. Money Don’t Matter 2 Night (reached #23 in 1992)

“He never had respect for money it’s true / That’s why he never wins / That’s why he never has Enough Respect your money. If you don’t you’ll never have enough. Prince has been preaching fiscal responsibility since 1992, when Dave Ramsey published his first book.

“Look here’s a cool investment / They’re tellin’ him he just can’t lose / So he goes off and tries to find a partner / but all he finds are users” Apparently Prince’s subject hasn’t heard of index funds. And so he gets used. Maybe one of these deals starts to look promising, but as the song goes “Just when u think u’ve got more than enough / That’s when it all up and flies away.” Brilliant!

4. Alphabet St. (reached #8 in 1998)

The lyrics here aren’t particularly inspiring, but I’ll borrow the line “Put the right letters together and make a better day”, and run with it.

Put the right letters together. How about IRA? LTCG. HELOC, S&P, and USD. VTSAX and VEMAX, whatcha think about that?

Without some basic knowledge, the world of personal finance can be a world of baffling acronyms, and you’ll have a tough time knowing who or what to believe. You don’t want to face a financial SNAFU, do you?


5. Little Red Corvette (reached #6 in 1983)

Even Mr. Lovesexy himself couldn’t keep up with this little red love machine, with her “pocket full of horses” and all. This song is all about a young woman living life in the fast lane.

What advice does The Artist have for her? “baby, you’re much too fast”. “Babe, you’ve got to slow down / Little Red Corvette / ‘Cause if you don’t / You’re gonna run your body right into the ground.”

Granted, her issues may have been described more in physical than financial terms, but we all know the young hotshot who is running his or her life right into the ground. The corvette metaphor completes the picture. Listen to Prince. If “you’re movin’ much too fast”, “you gotta slow down (got to slooooow down).”

Oh, and lastly “You need to find a love that’s gonna last”. Almost nothing sets you back more dramatically than a love that doesn’t last.


As Prince told us in the Arms of Orion, “In the heart of a sleepless moon, I’ll be with U 4ever.”


Glad to hear it. Thank U, Prince.



  • Hatton1

    Creative post. Never thought of Prince in financial terms. Prince and David Bowie. RIP.

    • Thanks! It didn’t occur to me that money was ever a theme in his music until I started looking at the song titles and listening again. Even the extended version of Purple Rain had a line about money that didn’t make the final cut. “Honey I don’t want your money, no, no. / I don’t even think I want your love. / If I wanted either one I would take your money and /I want the heavy stuff.”

  • Great and creative post today. Fitting tribute to a great and creative artist. I must admit when I was young and his songs were popular $ wasn’t on my mind. But now that I have a bit more wisdom in the tank and after your post, I will never listen to his music the same again. :O)

    • Thank you, Chris. Let’s be honest though, his lyrics are still about 95% sex, 4% joy, and 1% money 🙂

      I’ll throw in a bonus quote that seems fitting today. From the intro to Let’s Go Crazy:
      “Electric word, life. It means forever and that’s a mighty long time. But I’m here to tell you there’s something else – the afterworld. A world of never-ending happiness. You can always see the sun, day or night. So when you call up that shrink in Beverly Hills, you know the one, Dr. Everything’ll-Be-All-right, instead of asking him how much of your time is left, ask him how much of your mind, baby. ‘Cause in this life, things are much harder than in the afterworld. This life you’re on your own.”

  • Huge loss. Growing up in the Twin Cities, and living here now – many people knew Prince and worked with him. An unstoppable entertainer and true genius musically he combined the profane with the profound. Underneath all the flamboyance, he never forgot who he was or who he wanted us 2 be.

  • Good knowledge of Prince. From a medical perspective, I am curious about what potential underlying health issue he may have had.

    • I believe we all share your curiosity. I was reassuring to hear an autopsy is being done. It could take some time for toxicology results to be complete; sadly, that may hold the answer. IF media reports are accurate, the recent plane diversion resulted in naloxone given for an overdose of prescription opiates.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for an entertaining and educational post. I loved Prince’s music – so creative, always pushing boundaries and so fearless. I am regretting never seeing him perform live!

    Thanks for all the work you do getting this info out to us.

  • MissingThe808

    I can’t believe the radio station – I grew up on the Big Island and Star 101.9 was my favorite station picked up from Honolulu. I love the site, by the way – very inspiring for someone about to start residency and wanting to maximize my professional investment.

    • Awesome! I visited a couple years ago and that’s what we listened to in the car. Honolulu’s got some serious traffic (but we spent most of our time on the North Shore). I found Star 101.9 on Iheartradio recently and started tuning in regularly from our home “Up North” on the mainland.

      Loved the big island by the way. Awesome hiking and waves. I hope to have more time to explore the other islands, perhaps in early retirement!

      Glad you’re enjoying the site – focus on the financial independence and investing info. You’ve got way too much medicine ahead of you to focus on the early retirement material. 🙂


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