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Financial lessons from the Material Girl

by | Nov 13, 2014 | SELF-PUBLISHED

3 key principles of Madonna’s pop star staying power

Long-time pop queen Madonna really hit the big time with the debut of her second album “Like a Virgin.” That was 30 years ago, and she’s been a pop celebrity ever since. Success like that is tough to replicate. How she did it – and how she continues to be successful – can teach some valuable financial life lessons for younger people just starting out. I’ve boiled it down to three important lessons.

1. Stay in it for the long haul

When her first self-titled album came out in 1983, Madonna was already making a name as a teen pop idol. But she didn’t let it rest there. Her breakout second album was followed by other successful releases year-in-year out. Each new success built on the last one.

For saving and investing, the principle is the same. It’s all about staying in it for the long term. For younger savers, I always recommend opening a Registered Retirement Savings Plan and a Tax-Free Savings Account. The reason is simple. In these plans, your money will compound tax-free.

Over the long haul, that can really add up! And you can start off with small amounts, gradually increasing as your salary rises. For example, a $500 monthly contribution compounded monthly at a relatively conservative annual rate of 6% will grow to $500,000 in 30 years – about the same length of time Madonna has been a superstar.

2. Adapt to change – reinvent yourself

As a pop singer, Madonna kept her brand fresh by regularly reinventing her style to keep up with shifting musical tastes in her target demographic. From early bubblegum pop through whip-cracking dominatrix in the 1990s, to middle-aged, middle America, middle-of-the road success through the 2000s, she adapted to the times, keeping herself front and centre on the charts.

Your life isn’t static, and your financial plan shouldn’t be either. Times change, your circumstances change – a family, a home, a better job – so your investment portfolio should adapt to your changing needs. You may decide to increase your savings rate and perhaps use more aggressive investment growth strategies to build up your retirement savings during your peak earning years.

With a growing family, you’ll want to consider setting up Registered Education Savings Plans for your kids. Like RRSPs and TFSAs, investments in these plans grow tax-free until withdrawn by the child to fund post-secondary education. Once again, it’s important to start early and let the power of compounding work its magic.

3. Know your limitations

Madonna knew that she couldn’t trade on the success of “Like a Virgin” forever. And although she appeared in several movies, including the title role in Evita in 1996, she kept her energies focused on recording and performing.

As a younger investor, don’t try to be something you’re not. Most of us tend to overestimate our capacity to deal with risk, investment volatility, and market losses, especially when we’re younger. Be realistic about your own tolerance for risk (and ignore what friends, neighbors, family, and hyper-Tweeting strangers say about their “successes” in the market – most exaggerate and many just outright lie).

Then allocate your assets accordingly. If you have determined that you’re a conservative investor, for example, you’ll want to tilt your investments towards a more defensive allocation, with perhaps 60% to cash and fixed income, and 40% to equity. More aggressive investors might consider reversing that ratio.

Using these three lessons from Madonna’s successful career can help provide a good foundation for achieving lifetime financial objectives. But there’s also another good reason to emulate her principles for success: She’s very rich.

© 2014 by Robyn K. Thompson. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is prohibited.

© 2021 by Robyn K. Thompson. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is prohibited. This article is for information only and is not intended as personal investment or financial advice.

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