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The secret money lessons hidden in your Spotify Wrapped

Your top songs of 2023 may reveal some surprising financial truths.

6 min read

Each December, as Spotify Wrapped unveils your musical year in review, it’s more than just a recap: It's a reflection of life's highs and lows. It's a time when millions globally look back at the soundtracks that defined their year. Yet, just as each song and artist embodies a moment or a mood, our bank accounts likewise paint a picture of our year's story. Here's how Spotify Wrapped not only showcases our musical preferences but also prompts us to examine our financial year with the same introspective lens.

Your financial playlist in review

As Spotify Wrapped rolls out, uniting listeners worldwide in a journey through their year in music, it can be more than just a trip down melody lane. This retrospective often reflects the highs and lows of the past 12 months, reminding us of the moments we'd like to hold onto and the ones we'd rather let go.

Just as each song chronicles a chapter in our year, so too do our money habits. Consider how significant life events — a career leap, the joy of a new beginning, or the challenges of a setback — play out in our spending and saving patterns. Each year offers its unique set of financial insights and lessons.

For instance, did the discipline of saving for a specific goal give you a sense of accomplishment, or did it come at the cost of too many small joys along the way? Just as Spotify Wrapped presents us with our musical year in review, it can also act as a timely reminder to view our financial year through a similar lens.

Who are we listening for?

Since 2019, Spotify started modeling Wrapped after social media stories, which meant that sharing our musical tastes became a collective experience, transforming music into a form of social currency. As Vox highlights, P. David Marshall, a new media and communications professor at Deakin University, speaks to the concept of "dual strategic personas" in our digital lives. This idea speaks to the dual nature of our online identity — both as a reflection and a performance of who we are and who we aspire to be.

According to this idea, we're not just passively interacting with algorithms; we're actively shaping our digital identity, tailoring our online personas to match a desired image of ourselves. No longer is the act of listening to music a purely private experience. For some, the desire to feed the algorithm so that it generates certain results dictates what they listen to.

Curating a financial persona

Just as some curate playlists to project a certain image, many also craft a financial social persona. They may want to be seen as someone who’s on top of the latest trends, indulges in luxury brands, frequents sought-after destinations, and posts evidence of a lavish lifestyle on social media. Or, they may cultivate a persona that prefers to shine a spotlight on their thriftiness, turning away from a lifestyle of extravagance in favor of a more ‘bougie broke’ aesthetic. These financial personas, while dazzling or entertaining, can often align more with a performative self rather than reflect an authentic financial situation.

It's worth pondering whether our financial choices are truly reflecting our goals, or mainly feeding a persona. Just as you might question if your Spotify playlists truly reflect your musical taste or a crafted identity, it's worth considering if our spending habits are genuine reflections of our priorities or a performance for the social stage.

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Championing your guilty pleasures

Spotify Wrapped often evokes a spectrum of emotions, ranging from pride to embarrassment. While some users eagerly share their unique musical journeys, others cringe at specific year's soundtrack. This pattern can also appear in our financial lives. Reflecting on the year's money choices, it's not uncommon to unearth some things we’d rather keep hidden.

Think about those quirky or impulsive buys that now seem frivolous — the pixel art NFT of a tortoise, extravagant pet outfits that were more amusing than practical, or that alluring TikTok ad that led to an unused purchase. These might be the financial equivalents of those "guilty pleasures" hiding out in our Wrapped playlists.

Lean into the cringe

Yet, there's an empowering aspect to owning these quirks. Just as Spotify Wrapped celebrates our unique musical tastes, no matter how unconventional it may be, embracing our financial missteps can be liberating. Acknowledging and sharing these experiences does more than just reveal our vulnerabilities; it opens a dialogue. It can often be surprising to discover how many others share similar financial blunders.

This process of acceptance and openness can be a crucial step in evolving our financial behavior. By confronting and understanding our past misjudgments, we create an opportunity to learn and grow. The next Spotify Wrapped might still contain a few surprise tracks, and your future spending may still hold unexpected choices. But by reflecting on and learning from past decisions, we're better equipped to navigate the financial decisions of the year ahead.

A data story of who we are

Spotify Wrapped stands as a testament to the art of data storytelling. It's not just about the vast amounts of listening data; it's about transforming that data into something meaningful, personal, and often delightful.

These insights are more than just numbers; they offer a deeper understanding of our priorities and preferences. Just as Spotify's data can reveal a musical genre we tend to gravitate towards, our bank account histories can uncover financial patterns that may have been invisible to us. Tools to categorize spending can reveal everything from a pattern of holiday splurges, social outings, or cozy nights in — painting a picture of our financial personalities over time.

This level of insight can offer a new dimension to self-awareness, showing us facets of our personality and behavior that we might not have acknowledged before. It holds a mirror to our habits, preferences, and tendencies, offering a clearer picture of who we are and what we value. Whether in music or money, this data-driven narrative helps us better understand our choices and, ultimately, ourselves.

Embracing our financial data without judgment empowers us to intentionally choose what we want to include in next year’s financial playlist. Moving towards financial decisions that are aligned with who we are and where we want to be, while forgiving ourselves for the inevitable financial blunder we’ll make along the way, set us up for a financially harmonious year ahead.


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By N26

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