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I usually listen to music in the background while I write, more for the emotion than the lyrics. But this song by Prince & the New Power Generation stopped me in my tracks. The song is “Money Don’t Matter 2 Night.” Like most great pop songs, it’s more complex than it seems on the surface. It reveals the complicated relationship we have with money.
What’s money for?
For most of us, money does matter. Every dime.
Especially if you’ve ever been in the position where you had to check your bank account multiple times a day to make sure you didn’t overdraft. Or scramble to come up with enough for gas to get to work.
Us creative entrepreneurs are constantly searching for ways to get more exposure. Part of this arises from a genuine belief that our work will benefit the world.
But let’s face it: we also want to make a living doing what we love. It’s no secret that my goal is to make enough money from this blog so that it can go from being a side passion to a full-time endeavor.
Beyond that, here’s why I want to increase my income level. I’m sure you can relate to many of these reasons:
- More freedom — When you’re constantly patching your income together from side jobs and freelancing gigs, it’s hard to make time for simple pleasures like watching a movie, going for a long hike, or an afternoon at the beach.
- Fund passion projects — My boyfriend has brilliant ideas for movies and art projects, but all that costs money. Lots of money. Even writing books can be expensive when you factor in editing, cover design, and marketing.
- Financial independence — I want to make enough so that I’m not dependent on anyone or anything. More importantly, I want to contribute to the people and causes that matter most to me. To give instead of take.
Money is not the root of all evil. But here’s something we must remember: Money is NOT our savior, either.
Once you start pouring all your hopes and dreams into the next paycheck, your big break, or winning the lottery (literally or metaphorically)…well, you’re only setting yourself up for disappointment.
That’s Prince’s message in Money Don’t Matter 2 Night.
Here are the five major lessons we can learn from this song.
1. Don’t be blinded by greed
As the song opens, a man loses his money in a game of blackjack. Ashamed that he doesn’t have enough to “treat his lady right,” he “pushes her away in a huff” and dismissively tells her, “Money don’t matter tonight.”
Often in our drive to obtain more and more, we get sloppy and make bad decisions, ending up with less than we started with. Then, instead of taking responsibility, we blame others: our family. The government. The economy. The universe.
Greed is nothing to be ashamed of. All of us have the propensity for it. What matters is that we keep ourselves in check and take charge if our greed starts to spiral out of control.
2. Don’t be fooled by false prophets who promise big profits
In the song’s second verse, the protagonist seeks out a business partner, looking to score off a “cool investment.” But “all he finds are users. All he finds are snakes in every color, every nationality and size.”
Even if you run a solo business, I’m sure you can relate to this. How many of you have been lured by some course promising to “totally transform” your business, accompanied by a stirring story of how the course founder was once penniless and living off mac n cheese but is now traveling the world and owns a fleet of luxury cars? Only to find out the course was a complete waste and now the number they gave you in case you wanted a refund mysteriously doesn’t work?
In some cases, maybe it is a quality course, but you shouldn’t have bought it because you already had several other courses that were just collecting dust. I have certainly been guilty of this.
Maybe, like the song’s protagonist, we should stop searching for easy fixes and instead turn to the resources we already have. These include external resources — books and courses we own, free articles, people we can ask for advice — and internal resources — determination, creativity, passion.
3. Accept that money is ephemeral by nature
“Just when you think you’ve got more than enough, that’s when it all up and flies away.”
Ooh, boy, can I relate to this! As a freelancer, I’ve definitely become used to this cycle. I’ll salivate as I wait for the check. Then the treasured day arrives, a rush of euphoria, and whoosh, it’s gone!
On the other hand, I’m sure those with a steady, comfortable income can also relate to this. Maybe you’ve had the same job for decades, feel like everything is secure, and then all of a sudden you discover that you’ve been laid off, or your hours have been drastically cut.
Even millionaires and billionaires are at the whims of a multitude of factors. One shift in the stock market or bad business move can send their entire fortune crumbling.
Now, all this might sound a bit depressing. But it reinforces the song’s message, which is that we antagonize over and fight one another over something that can fly away from us at any moment. This leads to the next point.
4. Money can take over (or take) our lives if we’re not careful
In the third verse, Prince questions the government’s motive of sending children off to war, all in the name of oil. The line “anything is better than the picture of the child in a cloud of gas” takes the meaning to a new level, suggesting that not only does our nation’s greed for oil profits result in countless lives lost, but our overuse of oil leads to toxic pollution.
This message also works on an individual level. Many of us are slaves to money, working our lives away at jobs we hate. This leads to a wide number of ailments: anxiety, depression, and heart disease, to name a few. It damages our relationships, which become either filled with conflict or fraught with resentment because we are never there for our loved ones.
And for what, exactly?
5. Invest in your soul instead
I’m going a bit out of chronology here, but I saved my favorite part for last. In the chorus, Prince sings, “That’s when you find out that you’re better off, making sure your soul’s alright. Money didn’t matter yesterday, and it sure don’t matter tonight.”
Here, the lines about money take on a different meaning than they did when they were first stated by the gambler after losing all his money. While initially the words were meant to mask the speaker’s guilt and shame, here they are stated with conviction and sincerity.
Money, as stated, comes and goes. Your soul, on the other hand, is connected to the infinite.
So which is the more worthy investment?
Additionally, the relationship between your income and your soul is connected. If you’re not taking care of your soul, as is the case with the gambler, you’ll eventually encounter financial problems.
Derek Rydall speaks of this phenomenon in his amazing book The Abundance Project. He describes how his life was falling apart. He realized that he was relying too much on his bank account as his source of happiness: “Anytime we make someone or something outside of us our source of supply (or anything else), the universe is set up to fail us in that area.”
On the other hand, if you invest in your inner source, you are bound to find the fulfillment you are looking for. Unlike money, our soul is a resource that will never run out.
It is not without irony that in the music video, the camera zooms in on the words “in God we trust” on a dollar bill. Indeed, our society has elevated money to the status of a god.
As I said, I do not think money is evil. We can respect money and appreciate all it has to offer us. In our current realm, money is a necessary mode of exchange (although this article presents a fascinating perspective on living a moneyless existence).
However, this does not mean we need to worship money, especially at the expense of our inner light.
What is your relationship with money like? In what ways has it changed over the years?