Avoiding D.E.B.T. Tip of the Day
Have you ever heard the saying "Never go to the supermarket on an empty stomach"? The same thought process should be used while taking a trip to the mall or your favorite retail store. Don't leave home with a pocket / wallet / purse full of money if your material desires haven't been met in a long time. I'm sure your closet could use some updating or your entertainment set is due for an overhaul, but don't set yourself up for failure. Leave the house with just enough money to keep you from going crazy and take more money with you during your next shopping trip. Doing this will lessen your chances of making bad purchasing decisions.
The Music and the Money
Today, I was preparing to write a blog post about the different financial messages that can be found in popular music and something weird happened. I noticed something that I wasn’t expecting to encounter. Sure I checked out the lyrics from Billboards top 15 singles and noticed very few songs had any financial messages. Only one song, "Timber" by Pitbull featuring Ke$ha, had lyrics that were promoting the pursuit of a luxurious lifestyle, and those were limited to a few lines. On the other hand, I found that lyrics about the cost of fame and fortune, "Monster" by Eminem, and the rejection of greed, "Royals" by Lorde, could be more easily found. But this was no surprise because I knew I would only find a flood of song lyrics related to reckless if I checked the urban charts. I didn’t have to go any further than Billboard’s 3rd most popular Hip-Hop / R&B single, "All me" by Drake featuring 2 Chainz & Big Sean, to find enough lyrics related to money to make my point. Heck, that song by itself contains more lyrics about money than the entire Billboard Top 20. Those findings were expected, but what I didn’t expect to run across was something a little more interesting.
While conducting this study, I noticed that a highly ranked single within Billboard’s popular charts, "Royals" by Lorde, had a remixed version of the song (featuring Rick Ross) shooting up the urban radio charts. This discovery left me questioning the paring of Rick Ross and Lorde for this particular song. It seemed to me like the message in "Royals" was totally opposite of what Rick Ross represents. I then decided to analyze this move from a marketing perspective, being that I have a degree in marketing, and couldn’t come up with a good reason to pair a new up and coming Australian artist with such an established artist for this song. “Royals” was already one of the top 10 songs on the radio within urban and pop markets. The remix isn’t really being aired internationally, so this move would seem to do little for Rickey Rozay’s exposure. Maybe they were simply trying to gain exposure for both because they are under the Universal Music Group banner. I didn’t have enough information to completely conclude their reasoning’s for such a move, but I couldn’t ignore my thoughts either. The idea that a record label would purposely destroy a song with great financial messages by featuring an artist that promotes the opposite seemed a bit far-fetched, but worth looking into. Did Universal Music Group really think the listeners of urban radio would appreciate this song more because Rick Ross was bragging about money? Was this an attempt to have some small impact on the purchasing habits of their target market? Maybe it was just my mind wondering too much, but I couldn't stop looking into the possibilities.
To get a better perspective of this situation, I began to research the frequency in which something like this would happen and was having a tough time finding anything similar. Was this truly a one off situation? A little more searching led me to the song “Billionaire” by Travie McCoy featuring Bruno Mars. This song was about the idea of becoming a billionaire and what could be done with the money. McCoy’s ideas about this situation were related to helping others more than anything else, so overall his message wasn’t about living the life of luxury and buying everything in sight. However, the remixed version of the song featuring Gucci Man & T-Pain would not maintain the same message. While McCoy delivered a consistent message with lyrics like “I’d probably visit where Katrina hit and do a lot more than FEMA did”, T-pain chose to rap about billion dollar homes and putting down others that earned a much smaller income before a brief mention of giving back to the ghetto. Gucci Man used his time on the song to speak about buying one million pair of Jordan’s and telling haters to kiss his rear. This was another situation where the original song was getting plenty of exposure in Urban and Pop markets and a remix was released in urban markets that totally destroyed the original message found in the first song. The label that signed off on this remix was Sony, but their marketing choices seemed very similar to Universal Music Group's.
While there are other examples I could list in this post, those I will leave up to you to find, but I would like you to consider a few questions. Is this all coincidental or is this being done by design? If it is being done by design, is it more about race or profits? What are your thoughts?
It is important to be aware of all the latest scams that are victimizing the general public and we want to make sure you are prepared for them. Here is a list of a few trending scams that you should be aware of.
PG&E warns of email scams, offers tips to protect online identity, credit information (Apparently people are sending emails that appear to be bills from PG&E to PG&E customers) Read more by clicking on the link.
Scammers calling using EPB's phone number to collect fake payments (With this scam, people are calling consumers and are able to manipulate the caller id to say EPB and list an actual EPB phone number) Read more by clicking on the link.
BBB Scam Alert: Fake FBI Collection Calls (This scam is similar to the EPB scam and has everything to do with caller id manipulation) Read more by clicking on the link.
Here is a list of the top 10 Scams in 2013 according to the BBB (Here you can find a good list to see what scams were fooling people the most in 2013.
Over the last decade there have been countless debates about the growing income disparity between the so-called wealthy and poor. The Occupy movement is said to have begun when a group of college students decided to protest the general U.S. economic landscape due to the unfair advantages created for the top 1 percent of all income earners. Countless politicians have campaigned on growing the middle class through changing the tax code and expanding medical coverage, while others pushed agendas to create more financial freedoms for private businesses. Conspiracy theorists have upped their efforts to expose secret elite societies and their agenda to hoard the world's riches. The entertainment industry has even joined the debate. Television shows like "The haves and the have nots", "2 Broke Girls", and "The Housewives of........." have infiltrated television programming and assist with stimulating emotions related to this debate. There are also the hundreds of economic documentaries that can be easily found on YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, and many other websites to help sway your opinion within the context of this debate. Your favorite musicians are also likely participants in this debate. Musicians have always been an active participant in public debates and often use their music to voice their opinions. With so many people engaged in this debate, you would think some sort of realistic solution would have been presented and implemented by now. Can't this problem be fixed? No, because the entire argument is limited by personal bias.
Whenever the terms wealthy and poor or poverty are used to measure financial stability, there is a serious lack of accuracy. These terms are subjective, and if you can recall some of the lessons you were taught in junior high school, you know there is no room for opinions with basic arithmetic. When you add 5 and 10 your sum equals 15. Any numerical value less than zero is a negative value. These are basic mathematical rules and the terms like wealth and poverty allow us to escape the basic laws of math when measuring financial stability. If you really think about the use of the word wealthy, what are some common themes that come to mind? If you've been living in the U.S. for the last 50 years I'm sure you will come up with answers directly related to income and possession versus the ability to pay bills. But what does income or possessions really have to do with financial stability? If you live in a household where you are not responsible for taking care of yourself and have no need to earn any income are you not financial stable? I'm sure some of you are reading this and think I'm an idiot, but give me a few more sentences to explain. While it may not be ideal to depend on other people to take care of ones living expenses, people can be used as a resource to provide the necessities in life. The reason most of us prefer not to live with these circumstance has everything to do with quality of life goals and nothing to do with real financial stability. Real financial stability can only be accurately measured when the standards of measurement are based on mathematics. There are no grey lines or exceptions with financial stability. It is either something you've obtained or something you haven't been able to reach. The equation is simple, if your total liquid assets are greater than or equal to your total liabilities (net worth) then you're financially stable. Still not convinced, I don't blame you for your skepticism. Marketing executives have been working hard for decades to convince you otherwise and the terms wealthy and poverty are one of their greatest tools. They want you to think financial stability is directly tied to lifestyle goals because they are the top beneficiaries of this belief system. If you are too focused on obtaining or maintaining positive net worth, you won't consume so many of their products. This is why they need you to focus on wealth and poverty instead of reality. Focusing on wealth and poverty creates more purchasing decisions based on subjective matters instead of net worth growth and protection, but you have the power to shift away from this mindset. All you have to do is remove the idea of wealth and poverty from your concept of financial stability. These terms have kept you in captivity for far too long and it is time to escape their grasp. Grab your weapon of choice (preferably a good personal finance book), use it to remove these concepts from your psyche, and bury them in the ground.