Money matters are complicated, and there’s far more to finances than balancing a checkbook.
We’ve rounded up nine TED Talks — all between 10 and 20 minutes — that could alter the way you think about money, and how you choose to save, spend, and earn.
Check out the talks below:
This is an updated version of a post by Kathleen Elkins.
'Money isn't anything objective,' Neha Narula, a director of research at the Digital Currency Initiative, a part of the MIT Media Lab, says in her TED talk. Actually, the value of money is a 'collective fiction' that citizens of the world have agreed upon.
Using modern cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin, we can take this concept a step further, Narula says, and redefine how we value, and ultimately exchange, money. Narula illustrates a world where we use 'programmable money,' effectively removing the responsibility and power from big institutions and returning it to the individual.
In his talk at TEDxUniversityofNevada, David Burkus poses the question: 'What would happen if we had total pay transparency?'
As a management researcher and the author of 'Under New Management: How Leading Organisations Are Upending Business As Usual,' Burkus has spent several years studying pay transparency and found that employees at companies that are open about salary tend be more engaged, work harder to improve, and are less likely to quit. At companies where salary is kept secret, employees generally feel they're being underpaid and discriminated against.
In this talk, Burkus presents compelling research to back up his claim that keeping salary secret within an organisation could lead to what economists call a 'total market failure.'
For the first time in US history, across all demographics, the majority of parents don't think their kids will be better of than they were, says journalist Courtney Martin in her talk.
Martin explores the new American Dream, where we're 'not finding steady employment, not earning as much money, and not living in big fancy houses.' But that doesn't really matter, she says, because the dream that treasures these marks of success isn't shared by everyone.
By answering two key questions -- how we should work and how we should live -- Martin wonders if there's a smarter way to define 'better off' and how we can arrive there.
There's a difference between knowing you should save and actually doing it. 'We think about saving,' says economist Shlomo Benartz in his TED talk. 'We know we should be saving. We know we'll do it next year, but today let us go and spend ... This issue of present bias causes us to think about saving, but end up spending.'
As a result, just one-third of Americans end up saving in a 401(k) retirement plan, he reveals -- and only 10% of Americans are saving a sufficient amount for the future.
Benartz delves into the why of our decision not to plan for the future. He identifies the behavioural challenges that prevent people from saving, and then discusses how to flip these behavioural challenges into behavioural solutions.
Keith Chen, behavioural economist and economics professor at UCLA Anderson School of Management, discusses how the language we speak could be holding us back from getting rich.
Languages can either be 'futureless' or 'futured,' he explains in his TED talk. His research has found that languages without a concept for the future -- 'It rains tomorrow,' instead of 'It will rain tomorrow' -- correlate strongly with high savings rates.
If the future feels more distant from the present, that's going to make it harder to save money, he explains. On the other hand, if you speak a futureless language -- where the present and future are spoken about the same way -- you're going to feel the same way about them, making it easier to save in the present moment for the future.
According to Chen, this subtle difference in grammar could help explain why citizens of the US (English is a futured language) save much less than people in other countries.
If you want to teach your kids to be rich, entrepreneur Cameron Herold's TED talk will give you something to chew on. 'I think we should be raising kids to be entrepreneurs instead of lawyers,' Herald says. 'I think we miss an opportunity to find these kids who have the entrepreneurial traits, and to groom them or show them that being an entrepreneur is actually a cool thing.'
He shares his own childhood entrepreneurial endeavours, from starting a caddy business to buying and reselling soda pops to a bridge club of 70-year-old women. He also shares smart money habits to pass along to your kids, and touches on the contentious topic of allowances -- and why you should not use them.
We have 'two selves': the present self and the future self, behavioural economist Daniel Goldstein explains in his TED Talk. Every day, we make decisions that have good or bad consequences for our future selves -- oftentimes, our decisions satisfy the present self and 'trounce all over the dreams' of the future self, he says.
'Saving is a classic two-selves problem,' Goldstein explains. 'The present self does not want to save at all. It wants to consume. Whereas the future self wants the present self to save.'
He then discusses how we can stop neglecting our future selves and start making decisions that will result in future financial success.
Not sure how to invest in a post-economic crash world? Social commentator Geoff Mulgan answers just that in his TED Talk.
He explains how a financial crisis can actually evoke positive change and how we can use it to our advantage. 'I think one of the lessons of history is that even the deepest crises can be moments of opportunity,' he says. 'They bring ideas from the margins to the mainstream.'
'A lot of us resonate with this phrase that money can't buy happiness,' social science researcher Michael Norton says in his talk at TEDxCambridge. 'And I want to suggest that, in fact, that's wrong. And in fact, if you think that, you're actually just not spending it right.'
Money often makes us feel selfish, he explains, and he proposes that the reason money doesn't make us happy is because we're spending it on the wrong things -- in particular, on ourselves.
He put this hypothesis to the test by having one group of people spend money on themselves and a separate group of people give money away. He then measured their happiness. He found that pro-social spending not only benefits others, but it can benefit you and your work.