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6 Financial TED Talks Worth Checking Out

The following list of personal finance TED Talks includes various speakers and topics covering budgeting, credit cards, spending psychology, goal-setting and more. 

October 13, 2021

Financial success starts with knowledge. Regardless of where you are on your financial journey, you can benefit from expert advice and fresh perspectives. TED Talks are a fantastic place for inspiration. 

The following list of personal finance TED Talks includes various speakers and topics covering budgeting, credit cards, spending psychology, goal-setting and more. 

1. Wendy De La Rosa: 3 Psychological Tricks to Help You Save Money

Wendy De La Rosa is a behavioral scientist specializing in financial behaviors.

In this TED Talk on budgeting, Wendy De La Rosa discusses three tips that everyone can use to save more money. Her short speech delivers actionable advice relating to the psychology of spending — even better, her tips are backed by findings from her research. 

Drawing on her background in behavioral psychology, De La Rosa breaks down simple yet powerful ways to create real change in your spending habits. You won’t find generic advice on buying fewer lattes or moving in with your parents. Instead, what you will find is actionable advice on:

  • Harnessing the power of pre-commitment

  • How transition moments can work to your advantage

  • How to create barriers to spending

  • The benefits of “frequency budgets” over monetary budgets

2. Wendy De La Rosa: Pay Off Your Credit Cards Faster with These 4 Easy Changes

In her TED Talk on credit cards,  De La Rosa notes that more than half of all Americans carry credit card debt. Through four simple tweaks, she aims to empower readers to manage debt more effectively and pay off balances more quickly. 

In this talk, she covers how to:

  • Prioritize payments in the right way

  • Negotiate to get a better interest rate

  • Change payment due dates to your advantage

3. Adam Carroll: What Playing Monopoly with Real Money Taught Me About My Kids — and Humanity

Adam Carroll is a self-described transformational speaker and trainer.

In this amusing yet insightful TED Talk on budgeting money, speaker Adam Carroll shares a personal story about playing Monopoly with his young children — with $10,000 of real cash. 

This homebrewed social experiment showed Adam how the behavior of his children changed with real money on the line. 

Carroll’s talk confronts a troubling reality for parents: increasingly, children don’t understand what money is, seeing it as an abstraction instead of a tangible resource. Leveraging his research, as well as surveys and studies from financial institutions, Carroll provides actionable advice for parents on how to:

  • Teach your kids about money

  • Use allowances can help build financial literacy

  • Use real cash can reinforce the power and consequences of money

  • Let your children make their own financial decisions — and mistakes

4. Elizabeth White: An Honest Look at the Personal Finance Crisis

Elizabeth White is an aging solutions advocate and author. 

Millions of Americans are approaching retirement age with little to nothing saved for retirement. Elizabeth White, the speaker in this moving TED Talk on financial planning, is one of them. 

Tapping into her own experience and research, White explains how the burden of retirement savings has shifted over time, landing squarely on the shoulders of individuals. 

The talk explains the problem frankly, then provides a roadmap to improving your financial standing. White explains how:

  • The typical American household is preparing for retirement — and how far behind they are

  • Increasing life expectancy and the decline of pensions have created a looming retirement crisis

  • Individuals can utilize the financial resources available to them

  • Simple life changes can compound into powerful financial results 

5. Curtis “Wall Street” Carroll: How I Learned to Read — and Trade Stocks — in Prison

Curtis Carroll is an investor and the creator of a financial literacy program. 

In perhaps the most unique personal finance TED Talk of this list, Curtis “Wall Street” Carroll explains his story of learning financial literacy — and literacy itself — while incarcerated. 

Carroll explains the struggles of newly-released inmates, who lack financial resources and knowledge are often trapped in a life of crime. He relates this to everyday people who are trapped in an endless cycle of living paycheck to paycheck

Ultimately, Carroll frames financial illiteracy as a disease that’s tearing away at the fabric of society while explaining: 

  • His personal story of growing up in an unstable family environment

  • His life of crime and what it taught him about money

  • How financial illiteracy can trap people in an endless cycle 

  • How financial literacy is a lifestyle, not a skill 

6. John Doerr: Why the Secret to Success is Setting the Right Goals

John Doerr is an engineer and acclaimed venture capitalist. 

In his talk, venture capitalist John Doerr discusses a goal-setting framework used by Google, Intel and U2 artist Bono. 

Although this may be one of the best financial planning talks in the TED universe, it contains almost no specific financial advice. Instead, it focuses on the importance of goal-setting and how to set more effective and achievable objectives. 

Doerr explains:

  • The importance of goal setting in all aspects of life

  • What the “objectives and key results” framework is

  • How to establish the “what,” “why” and “how” of goal setting

  • How individuals, companies and even governments can set more effective goals

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Using TED Talks to Inspire Your Financial Journey

Watching any of the six talks featured above — or one of the many other personal finance TED Talks on the platform — might get you motivated to take action and improve your financial future.

But it’s important to make sure your motivation translates into action. Learning how to reduce credit card debt, for example, won’t do you any good if you don’t follow through on putting the steps into action.

One concrete step you can take to improve your financial well-being today is to see whether you qualify for Tally’s† payoff loans for high-interest credit cards. Give our Debt Calculator a try to see how reducing your credit card interest could free up cash you can put towards your bigger financial goals. 


​​†To get the benefits of a Tally line of credit, you must qualify for and accept a Tally line of credit. The APR (which is the same as your interest rate) will be between 7.90% and 29.99% per year and will be based on your credit history. The APR will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate. Annual fees range from $0 - $300.