7 Best Ted Talks on Personal Finance

There is more to personal finance than balancing your budget, investing, and saving for retirement. 

The best financial planning uses a holistic approach, focused on personal development as well as money management.

If you are looking to improve your career earning potential or find the motivation to become more successful, there is no beating an excellent Ted Talk.

Ted Talk presenters are experts in their fields and share “ideas worth spreading.”

Here are the seven best Ted Talks on personal finance.

7 Best Ted Talks on Personal Finance

1. Keith Chen: Could Your Language Affect Your Ability To Save Money?

This is an interesting phenomenon that we can consciously do something about once we know it exists.

Some languages (like English) are divided into past, present, and future. Other languages discard chronology in their grammar, so when you speak of the future, it’s structurally the same as speaking of the present.

This plays a subtle mind trick in the ability to put more money away for savings, believe it or not. In his talk, Chen shows how people who speak languages that don’t differentiate between the present and the future are 30% more likely to save money for the future.


2. Shlomo Benartzi: Saving for Tomorrow, Tomorrow

Benartzi explains that the reason so many of us avoid saving money today is that we see saving as a cash loss: it essentially means that we have less to spend, which is something our core emotional self doesn’t like. (Sound familiar?)

He presents a possible solution: using a portion of your raises to put money into your 401k, so you don’t feel the “less to spend” loss so strongly.

“It's easy to imagine saving money next week, but how about right now? Generally, we want to spend it. Economist Shlomo Benartzi says this is one of the biggest obstacles to saving enough for retirement and asks: How do we turn this behavioral challenge into a behavioral solution?”

3. Daniel Goldstein: The Battle Between Your Present and Future Self

When we’re fighting with ourselves about whether or not we should set aside savings this month—or how much money we should set aside, it’s usually a battle between our present self and our future self. And because our present person has the unfair advantage of being here and having a voice at this moment, it usually wins.

To help people overcome this battle and give their future selves a chance, Daniel created a virtual reality tool that ages your current face and makes modifications of how well you age and your perceived happiness based on how much you’re currently saving for retirement.

“Every day, we make decisions that have good or bad consequences for our future selves. (Can I skip flossing just this one time?) Daniel Goldstein makes tools that help us imagine ourselves over time, so that we make smart choices for Future Us.”

4. Alexa von Tobel: One Life-changing Class You Never Took

Alexa is the founder of LearnVest and starts her talk off by showing us how out of control most Americans feel when it comes to their finances. (It’s like she knows me!)

But to help people out, she gives some solid, actionable steps to help get yourself on a solid financial footing so you can move forward: following a budget, spending less than you earn, getting rid of your debt, and setting up an emergency fund.

5. Graham Hill: Less Stuff, More Happiness

Not so surprisingly, Hill founded treehugger.com. But throughout his talk, he talks about how living a life with fewer possessions leads to less worry and loads of freedom.

It’s a short talk, but his critical takeaways on decluttering, limiting purchases, and opting for multi-purpose items is life-changing. (That is, if I may say so myself. Speaking from experience, it’s incredible how good you feel after downsizing your life to fit into a few suitcases.)

6.  David Burkus: Why You Should Know How Much Your Coworkers Get Paid

“How much do you get paid? How does it compare to the people you work with? You should know, and so should they, says management researcher David Burkus. In this talk, Burkus questions our cultural assumptions around keeping salaries secret and makes a compelling case for why sharing them could benefit employees, organizations, and society.”

7. Michael Norton: How To Buy Happiness

We all know the adage: Money can’t buy happiness. Norton challenges that and says that it can: it’s just that the majority of the time when we try to use the money to make ourselves happy, we spend it on the wrong things and in the wrong way.

Hint: spending it on other people will make you much happier than spending it on yourself.


Ted Talks 

The lessons from these Ted Talks will help boost your salary, save for tomorrow, today, and change how you think and talk about money.

Michael launched Wealth of Geeks to make personal finance fun. He has worked in personal finance for over 20 years, helping families reduce taxes, increase their income, and save for retirement. Michael is passionate about personal finance, side hustles, and all things geeky.