Crib Notes on the 6 Best Personal Finance TED Talks

by Joe Epstein on 29 May 2014 1 comment

There are some amazing TED talks about saving money out there, but what about saving time? As in, the time that it takes to watch them all.

We've got you covered. We've picked out the 6 best personal finance TED talks. AND, we've written up crib notes for you.

The Battle Between Your Present and Future Self

Odysseus lashing himself to the mast to avoid temptation has parallels with saving for retirement, behavioral economist Daniel Goldstein explains. It's an early form of what he calls "commitment devices," which can level the playing field between your "present self" and "future self," a battle that the former would otherwise always win. He's even created his own software to perform a similar task: a virtual reality model that "ages" your young face, and then shows the future you as increasingly happy or unhappy depending on how much the present you saves for retirement.

Could Your Language Affect Your Ability to Save Money?

Can you read this? Then, uh oh, you're less likely to save than someone who doesn't speak English, according to linguistically leaning economist Keith Chen. He contends that those growing up with "futureless" languages that less clearly delineate tense (e.g. Chinese) think about the future as more connected to the present, and thus are more naturally prone to saving.

Less Stuff, More Happiness

Here, TreeHugger.com founder Graham Hill advocates saving by expounding on "the joys of less": essentially, the freedom afforded by downsizing. "Living little," he contends, can be achieved by:

  1. "editing ruthlessly" (cutting extraneous things and curb the inflow of new buys)
  2. "thinking small" (digitizing to save space and "make things disappear")
  3. thinking "multifunctional" (creating spaces with multiple uses).

His talk is a good example of less is more too, clocking in at under six minutes.

Let's Raise Kids to Be Entrepreneurs

Youth coach Cameron Herold has good news: you should stop giving your kids allowances. Children who exhibit entrepreneurial traits, he contends, should instead be paid on a per project basis (e.g., for shoveling the driveway) after negotiating a price, lest they start to expect (and come to rely on) regular paychecks.

Saving for Tomorrow, Tomorrow

Shlomo Benartzi, an economist focusing on personal finance, outlines our country's saving problem ("one out of three Americans use a 401K plan, and only one out of ten" really put enough away), blaming "present bias" and "inertia." He then explains the results of a study he conducted that suggesting that even people who don't think they can squeeze any savings out of a monthly paycheck, in fact, can.

One Life-Changing Class You Never Took

LearnVest founder Alexa Von Tobel notes that 76% of Americans "feel out of control when it comes to personal finances," and 61% of the country is living paycheck to paycheck. She outlines some of the major financial stakes many young people make (including not planning and saving for retirement). Finally, she offers a remedy in the form of lessons to teach young people (and ones you're never too old to learn):

  1. Follow a budget & live beneath your means.
  2. Be debt free, and pay all cards in full.
  3. Have an emergency savings account.

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Julie @ Millennial Cents

Thanks for the list- I always love TED talk recommendations.