Best Ted Talks About Money (When You Need To Get Control Of Your Spending)

By Laura @ IWMLB Project | I need to save money

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Oct 17
“Yeah, yeah, I know I need to make a budget if I want to control my spending”

But still, you don’t do it.

ted talks about money

Why don’t we do the things we know we should when it comes to spending and our personal finances? Often it’s because we don’t think about money in the right way.

When we start to change the way we view money and spending, we start to treat it differently, and that’s when we get control of our finances.

Here are the best Ted Talks about money I could find. They are quite varied in what they talk about, but it is all relevant to changing your money beliefs and making positive change.

With consumer spending reaching all-time highs, it’s harder than ever to shut out the noise and get control of your finances.

Educating yourself about money is the absolute best thing you can do to get control of your personal finances!

6 Best Ted Talks About Money (When You Need To Get Control Of Your Spending)

1. When Money Isn’t Real: The $10,000 Experiment – Adam Carroll 

This is an incredibly interesting talk about how our spending is influenced by spending ‘real’ money or ‘fake’ money.

We no longer see people paying in cash, money in almost all digital now, so what effect does that have on our spending?

To test what happens when we can actually see the real money, Adam did an experiment involving his kids and a Monopoly game!

Adam got $10k of real money out of the bank to play Monopoly to see whether his kid’s tactics would change when they had actual money in front of them.

The result is very interesting!!

It goes hand in hand with the cash envelope method of spending from Dave Ramsay. You put cash in an envelope for each category in your budget.

Because you can physically see the REAL money that you are spending, you spend a lot less.

A great method if you are trying to teach yourself not to overspend.

The best quote from the talk is:

“Money is an illusion with very real consequences”.

2. The Battle Between Your Present and Future Self – Daniel Goldstein

This talk by Daniel Goldstein is very focused on retirement but presents the concept that what you do today, can have a huge effect on your future.

The best quote from the speech is:

“The investments and savings that you undertake today, determine your wellbeing in the future”

Daniel uses a very useful chart to show the difference in apartments you could afford in retirement, based on how much you save today.

Not saving enough money for retirement means neglecting future you.

Spending all your money on ‘stuff’ now could mean putting yourself in a very difficult position further down the line!

3. Saving For Tomorrow, Tomorrow – Shlomo Benartzi 

This talk by Behavioural Economist Shlomo Benartzi talks about the combination of psychology and economics and why we make the money mistakes we do.

The best (and most terrifying) quote is this:

“More people insure their iPhones than they do their own lives, even if they have kids.”


The talk mainly focuses on saving for retirement (or not as the case is for most people!) but it applies to anything you want to save for.

Shlomo was part of an interesting study with a company whose employees didn’t think they had any money to spend, and the effect saving just 3% of their paycheck had over the years.

He does the effect in terms of what you could afford, very similar to Daniel Goldstein’s chart of visually showing the difference in savings according to what you save.

4. One Life-Changing Class You Never Took – Alexa Von Tobel

Alexa Von Tobel is the CEO of LearnVest, a huge personal finance website.

Alexa Von Tobel takes the example of a 22-year-old student and the financial mistakes we make at an early age.

She talks about how we take this into our adult life and why it stops people being able to retire with the life they want.

Alexa quotes that ‘61% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck’ but that we can change this.

Alexa says that by instilling 5 money principles into young people, they can learn the right money behaviours that will be passed on for generations to come.

Her 5 money principles to live by in your twenties are:

  1. Follow a budget, live below your means
  2. Be debt free, pay cards in full
  3. Have an emergency savings account
  4. Negotiate salary
  5. Save for retirement now

By the way, if you are like me and way past your twenties, you can still start to apply these principles now!

5. How A Penny Made Me Feel Like A Millionaire – Taria Luna

This is a short, but lovely talk about being grateful for what we have.

I’ve put it in here as it is easy to get caught up in what we think we ‘should have’ and ‘should be’.

Sometimes we need a small reminder of how we much we already have.

6. Flipping Rich – John Thornton

Ignore the click-bait title, this is actually a really good talk.

John talks about how 7/8 of Americans who became rich were not born with it.

They don’t live in mansions, have fancy cars or marry celebrities. (he quotes the book The Millionaire Next Door, I’ve read it and it’s very good)

They live below their means, invest their money early and take advantage of compound interest.

You can read about how much you would need to save to be a millionaire in 15 years in this CNBC article.

John Thornton makes the point about how most people want to be a millionaire they don’t want to become a millionaire.

He explains the difference like this:

“To become a millionaire, you have to earn a million dollars more than you spend.”

“To be a millionaire, you want to spend a million dollars that you didn’t earn.”

Very true when you think about it!

He has a great quote on debt as well:

“Debt is simply a way of putting into dollars, how much of your future you’ve spent in the past”

Here are John’s 3 simple principles for being flipping rich:

  • Do something
  • Do it right 
  • Be generous

7. What if you could trade a paperclip for a house? | Kyle MacDonald | TEDxVienna

And here is the last of our Ted Talks about money. This one is a great one about how much you can get from bartering.

Kyle McDonald started off with a red paperclip and made trades for bigger and better things, until his last trade, which was for a house!

Awesome story and a great tool if you want to start a business and want to bootstrap it!

I love watching Ted Talks, I also love reading blogs, listening to podcasts and reading books, but sometimes taking action on something comes from something you have watched.

Or that had a particular effect on you or evoked a certain emotion.

If you want to do some reading about money, here are some of my blog posts to help you out!

I hope you liked these Ted Talks about money, let me know what you thought!

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About the Author

Hi, I am Laura. I set up the 'I Want My Life Back Project' after burning out in a corporate job. I quit in May 2017 and set about getting my life back. I now freelance 2 days a week, run this blog, manage my rental properties and am SO MUCH HAPPIER! All the content on this blog is to help you to get your life back too :-)