25 Iconic Quotes About Money

The 25 best money quotes and lyrics that will motivate you, including lines from J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, Nicki Minaj, Beyonce, LeBron James, & more.

Iconic quotes about money
Complex Original

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Iconic quotes about money

We’re all guilty of quoting lines about money.

Whether those lines come from music, movies, TV, or elsewhere, they’ve become part of our lexicon, so much so that we might not even recognize their origins. And it makes sense. Money is something we talk about constantly, so of course pop culture has given us a seemingly endless collection of phrases through which to express our desire for it, disillusionment with it, and disdain for what is a rigged system altogether.

Some—like, say, Drake, channeling Jelleestone and singing, “Money can’t buy me happiness”—are pretty empty, though memorable. Others are platitudes—think, “Money is the root of all evil.” But plenty offer a kernel of truth, sometimes of the capital-T variety. Which is why we’ve compiled the list you’ll find below.

Over the past few weeks, through our Get Money initiative, we’ve published pieces on clothing resale, the resurgent trading card industry, exotic portfolios, and the cost of streaming television. The idea was to demystify money and empower our audience to make educated decisions about it. 

These quotes—drawn from across pop culture—speak to the same ideas. This is by no means an exhaustive list of lines about money, but we’ve collected 25 that resonate with us. Some are insightful, others just clever, but they’re all quotes our staff has likely dropped in conversation at some point. And we (probably) didn’t feel any type of way about it.

Here, in no particular order, are 25 iconic quotes about money.


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Quote: “Put me anywhere on God’s green earth/ I’ll triple my worth”

Source: “U Don’t Know” (2001)

Jay-Z is a natural for this list, as someone whose career is based in part on the idea that being the best rapper and being the richest rapper are one and the same. And this short statement is, besides “I will not lose,” the closest thing Hova has to a manifesto. Put him on the street, in the recording booth, in the corporate “offices-es,” or in the owners box, and he’ll make the best of it. —Shawn Setaro

Kendrick Lamar

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Quote: “Money trees is the perfect place for shade/ And that’s just how I feel”

Source: “Money Trees” (2012)

Kendrick Lamar is an artist who has managed to find comfort in his cognitive dissonance. He understands that greed and corruption have caused many hardships in his life, yet on “Money Trees,” the rapper recognizes that money still offers him the most comfort, despite the harm it has done. —Jordan Rose


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Quote: “Always stay gracious, best revenge is your paper”

Source: “Formation” (2016)

With a net worth of $440 million and one of the world’s most successful careers in music, Queen B clearly knows what she’s talking about when it comes to playing the long game. In this line from “Formation,” Bey reminds us to stay calculating: the short-term glory of acting out can cost you your fortune in the long run. —Lou Delaney

André 3000

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Quote: “Promise me you gon’ stack, promise me you gon’ ball/ Promise me you’ll invest three-fourth of it all/ For what? So your kids’ kids’ kids’ can have some cheese”

Source: “Hollywood Divorce” (2006)

André knows spending money as fast as it comes can feel like its own reward, but generational wealth can spread the fun and financial security down a family tree. Live it up, 3K implores, but be sure to prepare for the future as best you can. —Jordan Lebeau

Quote: “Certain money is not always good money.”

Source: Larry King Live (2010)

Speaking on the temptations befalling a superstar, multimillionaire athlete LeBron James explained to Larry King (RIP) back in 2010 that not all of the money that he is offered/could be accepting is “good money.” Taking money from the wrong people can happen to anyone, regardless of whether they’re famous or unknown, wealthy or broke. LeBron was getting millions from his contract and sponsorships, but was still in a position where he had to keep his head on a swivel for seedy characters with deep pockets. Do as LeBron did—avoid the “bad” money! —Maurice Peebles

Quote: “So if I turn up to a photo shoot and you had—you got a $50 clothes budget and some sliced pickles on the motherfucking board, you wanna know what? No, I am gonna leave. Is that wrong? For wanting more for myself? Wanting people to treat me with respect? But you know what? Next time, they know better. But I had accepted the pickle juice, I would be drinking pickle juice right now.”

Source: Nicki Minaj: My Time Now (2010)

Nicki knows her worth and has had to fight hard for her place at the table in rap, probably harder than most of her male rap contemporaries. She’s watched her mentor Lil Wayne be applauded for “bossing up,” while she’s been torn down for carrying herself with the same confidence. Despite the hate, Nicki knows her time is money, and she won’t accept less than her worth (see: the pickle juice). —Lou Delaney

Nipsey Hussle

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Quote: “Invest in some assets, as opposed to trick off my money on some liabilities, like diamonds, you know what I’m saying? Cars that lose value as soon as you drive them off the lot. A real asset. Take care of my peoples, because, you know, it look good, but at the end of the day, you losing value, homie. It ain’t appreciating—it’s depreciating.”

Source: Hard Knock TV (2006)

Nipsey Hussle was nothing if not an entrepreneur, and in this quote from early in his career, he broke down something any business-minded individual should know: that a nice car is cool, but a home with a three-car garage is a much sounder investment—one that may eventually put money in your pocket and serve the greater good. —Lucas Wisenthal

Quote: “You look good, you feel good. You feel good, you play good. You play good, they pay good.”

Source: The Atlanta Constitution (1989)

Never one to lack self-assurance, Deion was quick to recognize the connection between confidence and success. Looking good, in his mind, led to more than just feeling good—it was the catalyst for his Hall of Fame play on the gridiron and his wealth, which (according to celebritynetworth.com) is currently in the neighborhood of $40 million. —Maurice Peebles

Kanye West

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Quote: “Havin’ money’s not everything, not havin’ it is”

Source: “Good Life” (2007)

An imagined idea of success collides with the lavishness of Ye’s real life in 2007 in this Graduation single. The sentiment in this line is as succinct as it is timeless, further driven home by its placement in a song that spends a fair amount of time pushing back against the negative energy of nameless detractors. —Trace William Cowen

The Notorious B.I.G.

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Quote: “I ain’t exaggeratin’ at all, man. The more money you make, the more problems you get. And jealousy and envy, they’re something that comes with the territory, man.”

Source: “Mo Money Mo Problems” video (1997)

With these words, Biggie, ascendant and embattled, laid it out clearly: financial success isn’t always the answer. No matter your income bracket or who you keep in your circle, you have to accept there will be detractors. And while money may change your situation, it can also amplify the negative. —Lucas Wisenthal

Quote: “Make the money. Don’t let it make you.”

Source: The Players Club (1998)

In 1998’s The Players Club, Diamond, unfortunately, learns this lesson the hard way. It’s easy to get caught up with fast money when things are going well, but fast money often comes with consequences. Making a moderate living on your own terms is worth more than being used and abused for bigger earnings. To Diamond, keeping her dignity and true identity outweighed transforming into someone she wasn’t for extra cash.. —Jocelyn Carrington-Peebles

50 Cent

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Quote: “I took quarter water, sold it in bottles for two bucks/ Coca-Cola came and bought it for billions—what the fuck?”

Source: “I Get Money” (2007)

50 Cent used his time in the spotlight in a way even Mel Brooks could appreciate: merchandising. But it wasn’t the video games, clothes, or ringtones that brought Fif his biggest paycheck. Instead, it was a Chris Lighty (RIP)-brokered deal for a small brand of vitamin water. 50 took equity (a rumored 10 percent of the company) instead of a big pile of cash. Coca-Cola got interested, and a star...er, lyric...was born. —Shawn Setaro

Omar Little (Michael K. Williams)

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Quote: “”Man, money ain’t got no owners—only spenders.”

Source: The Wire (2006)

It’s fitting that Omar recognizes that while you may possess money, it doesn’t really belong to you. Actually, his remark is kind of reminiscent of Gordon Gekko’s observation in Wall Street that “money itself isn’t lost or made; it’s simply transferred from one perception to another.” So, basically, enjoy your money, but don’t think it’s with you for good. —Lucas Wisenthal


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Quote: “You know, it’s funny, when it rains, it pours/ They got money for wars, but can’t feed the poor”

Source: “Keep Ya Head Up” (1993)

Poverty and inequality were pervasive in 2Pac’s time, and, sadly, little has changed. In spite of its vast wealth, America’s priorities, as ’Pac saw them, left many of the most vulnerable out. —Jordan Lebeau

Quote: “What is the answer to 99 out of 100 questions? Money.”

Source: Vanilla Sky (2001)

It’d be understandable to look at a chaotic world and its billions of different people, partnerships, and personalities and think there must be a corresponding number of motives behind the actions of these entities, but this quote cuts straight through the noise to get to the bottom line: whatever they’re doing, it’s likely in some way because of money. The reason why this politician said this or why this company did that is far less confusing after you drill down to the core of the issue (hint: it’s money). —Maurice Peebles

Frank Ocean

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Quote: “Super-rich kids with nothing but loose ends, super-rich kids with nothing but fake friends”

Source: “Super Rich Kids” (2012)

Frank Ocean wasn’t born into wealth––back in 2012, he told The Atlantic about the odd jobs he worked growing up: “Kinko’s, Fatburger, Subway—I was a sandwich artist—and I was a claims processor at Allstate Insurance,” he said. In this song, he sings from the lens of a super-rich kid, painting a picture of life in the mansion. Contrasted with the album’s previous track (“Not Just Money”) the song quietly critiques economic inequality under capitalism. —Lou Delaney

J. Cole

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Quote: “If they weren’t talking ’bout the bread, these motherfuckers be toast”

Source: “Everybody Dies” (2016)

Cole has built his career off being the relatable common man and the self-aware rap star. Here, he cleverly pokes fun at a common trope in hip-hop, calling out artists who he believes wouldn’t have anything of value to rap about beyond their money and material possessions. —Jordan Rose

Quote: “Money is not peace of mind. Money’s not happiness. Money is, at its essence, that measure of a man’s choices.”

Source: Ozark (2017)

It’s apt that this line, taken from the pilot of the Netflix hit, pops up again in a recent trailer for its final season. And while the Byrde family is far from being worthy of admiration, financial or otherwise, the core truth here—that people’s choices on their respective journeys always have an impact—is a universal one. —Trace William Cowen


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Quote: “Money comin’, money goin’, ain’t like you could take it with you”

Source: “Pop That” (2012)

Even with the best-laid plans and goal-oriented thinking, Drake knows that money’s just fun to spend...and that his black card probably won’t work on the other side. He’ll enjoy his riches while he’s here, thank you very much. —Jordan Lebeau

Quote: “Playing with my money is like playing with my emotions.”

Source: Friday (1995)

In one of the most underrated quotes from the classic film, Big Worm touches on something most of us have felt at some point. There has been real research conducted over the years on the connection between emotions and money, but anyone who’s dealt with being owed some for too long could tell you it’s real. Smokey not only owed this man $200, but bragged to him about how he and his friend smoked that $200 because of a bad day at work. Objectively, Big Perm’s emotional reaction was totally justified. —Maurice Peebles

Quote: “What’s worth doing is worth doing for money.”

Source: Wall Street (1987)

This quote doesn’t come from corporate raider Gordon Gekko’s “greed, for lack of a better word, is good” monologue, but it illustrates the amorality of the moment perfectly, and it communicates one idea succinctly: that you should know the worth of anything you’re doing. —Lucas Wisenthal

Quote: “Money can’t buy happiness. It is happiness.”

Source: 30 Rock (2010)

Alec Baldwin’s portrayal of ultra-capitalist General Electric executive Jack Donaghy in the underrated 2000s sitcom 30 Rock is masterful. Donaghy is the classic American businessman on (figurative) steroids, always believing that the free market and a profit-above-everything attitude can solve all of society’s issues. His whole act is a caricature of these types, of course, as earnestly proclaiming that “money is happiness” is intended to sound as sad and empty as someone who truly believes that quote probably feels inside. —Maurice Peeble


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Quote: “Can’t a young man get money anymore?”

Source: “Lookin’ at Me” (1997)

Despite the creature comforts it can afford, money comes with new—and often unwanted—attention. Here, M-A-dolla sign wonders what the big deal is as onlookers gawk at him on his day off. —Jordan Lebeau

Quote: “Keep your friends rich and your enemies rich, and wait to find out which is which.”

Source: Avengers: Age of Ultron

Ultron is one of the more slept-on villains in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it’s because of quotes like this. Using one of Tony Stark’s lines, Ultron makes an acute observation on the insidious way money brings out people’s true nature, revealing who’s truly friend or foe. —Jordan Rose 

Quote: “Nobody wants to work for it anymore. There’s no honor in taking that after-school job at Mickey D’s. Honor’s in the dollar, kid.”

Source: Boiler Room (2000)

Boiler Room came out in February 2000, basically weeks before the so-called dot-com bubble burst, so wealth seemed readily attainable for college dropout Seth Davis, the film’s protagonist. Why work a job that will earn you a fraction of what the right investment can bring in? Twenty-one years on, the notion of “honor’s in the dollar” persists—only now it’s trumpeted across a certain corner of the timeline each day. —​​​​​​​Lucas Wisenthal

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