Tuning into your finances: How music impacts your money
Tend to overspend while shopping? Music may be to blame
There's no denying music can rev up a workout routine, but
did you know that music can have a significant impact on your finances, too?
Numerous studies have linked music to spending behavior. In fact,
the kinds of music you listen to can impact your opinion of your finances, the likelihood you'll blow your
budget at the grocery store and your approach to balancing your checkbook or
paying credit card bills.
In fact, a song's tempo and beat can impact just about any
financial situation, and consequently your credit score.
Here's how to tune in to a finance-friendly beat, and put
music to work for your money.
The scenario: Allotting
your 401(k) investments
landscape of the stock market means you have to pay more attention than ever
before to how you plan for retirement. But the stress of not knowing where to
invest or how much of your earnings to allot, has you tied up in knots and
questioning your ability to make a sound, financial decision.
The right beat: A study from
National Central University in Taiwan found fast tempo music improves your decision-making
ability -- including when you're under pressure to decide how to allocate your
Queue up some good old-fashioned rock 'n' roll or hip-hop when
you're pondering how to invest your nest egg. To improve your decision-making
skills, the researchers suggest songs with a heart-thumping beat of around 125
to 130 beats per minute (bpm). Some examples include the Black Eyed Peas' "Boom Boom Pow," "Mueve la Cadera (Move Your
Body)" by Reel 2 Real or Bob Seger's "Old Time Rock and Roll."
Just don't crank up the tunes too much. Loud music can be distracting, so stick
to a level that's no louder than your indoor speaking voice.
The scenario: Setting a budget
The thought of sitting down to determine a monthly budget
has you breaking out into a sweat. And having "the talk" about your
finances with your spouse is sure to be stressful since the two of you aren't
always on the same financial page.
The right beat: Seems your mom was definitely on
to something when she sang you to sleep. Lullabies, says Rick Notter, author of
"Sound Advice, Music's Affect on
Life, Health and Happiness," are good at calming your nerves. "Soft,
slow-tempo music is also good to play in the background when discussing
finances with your spouse or reviewing your monthly budget," he says. Good
to know since you'll be more likely to set a realistic budget (and ultimately
stick to it) if you approach the topic with a calm, cool head.
Notter recommends songs with 70 to 85 beats per minute. "Something
light, but not too slow," he says. Some examples include "Let it Be" by The
by Colbie Caillat, "Keep
Breathing" by Ingrid Michaelson and "Fire and Rain" by
The scenario: Overspending at the grocery store
Every week you find yourself spending more than you planned
-- even if you shop with a list. And all those extras are putting a hefty dent
in your monthly budget.
The wrong beat:
Your taste buds or grumbling stomach might not be to blame for blowing your
grocery budget. Research
has shown you're more likely to give in to impulse purchases if your grocery
store pipes instrumental or classical music over its PA system. One theory: Classical
music causes you to slow down and underestimate the amount of time you're
spending in the store. And a shopper who leisurely strolls the aisles is more
likely to toss extra items into her cart than one who's in a hurry.
Counter the grocer's music with heart-pumping tunes that
have 130 to 160 bpm. Studies have shown the effect of fast songs will help keep
you revved up while shopping for up to 30 minutes after listening. On your way
to the store, listen to upbeat, fast songs that empower or motivate you as
those are going to be most likely to encourage you to stick to your
budget. A few options are "I'm So Excited," by
the Pointer Sisters, "Poker
Face" by Lady GaGa or "Vacation" by the
Balancing your checkbook
One of the most dreaded money-related tasks is balancing a
checkbook, but getting an accurate account of how much is in your account can
help you avoid dreaded overdraft fees. Behavioral psychologist Matt Wallaert
says music can help wipe out the fear, anxiety and stress associated with this
The right beat: The
middle of the musical road is the best balancing place. Walleart says songs
that are around 100 bpm will keep your blood pressure from hitting the roof but keep your mood elevated and upbeat. "It can help you do both and keep
you concentrated on the task at hand," he says.
Think of balancing your checkbook and paying bills music
like driving music: something that keeps you happy, but doesn't drive you off
the road. Stay away from songs that make you miss your high school sweetheart
or remind you of a bad break-up. They can create even more of a negative
impression toward this routine task. Instead, pick songs like Michael Buble's "Me and Mrs. Jones," "Ordinary People," by
John Legend, Robin Thicke's "Ask Myself" or "Kiss Me," by
Sixpence None the Richer.
The scenario: You're considering applying for a store
You're checking out and the store clerk offers you the
chance to save 10 percent just by opening a new store credit card. As you're
bobbing your head to the beat of the song that's playing overhead, you're
tempted to say "Sign me up!"
The wrong beat: Studies have found we tend to lose our heads a bit when we like the music that's
piped through the mall or department store. If you find yourself humming or
whistling along -- or even tempted to belt out a few bars under your breath
while shopping, experts suggest taking a second to catch your breath.
Notter says you should shop to your own beat by bringing
along an MP3 player with a "shopping playlist" to override the store's
music. "You'll be able to clear your head and focus on how a new credit card or purchase will affect your finances long term," he says. Notter
recommends instrumental music that's 60 to 80 bpm. "Lyrics can be a
distraction when you're trying to clear your mind and block out influences,"
he says. Some options are "Moonlight Sonata" by
Beethoven, "I Dreamed
There Was No War" by The Eagles and "Rudy," the movie
title track by The O'Neill Brothers.
A final note
To keep all your melodies straight, try creating different
playlists on your MP3 player. Give them names like "grocery shopping"
and "in the mall" so you can quickly refer to them whenever you need a
lyrical financial intervention.
See related: Just say no to store credit cards, 8 tips for squeezing a budget even tighter, 12 debt questions to ask before getting married, 13 greatest credit card songs meld pop, plastic
Published: February 11, 2010