The financial advice we wish we’d gotten when we were kids (before TED Talks existed … )

There are some things in life that make me think “Whoa. Remember when insert-technology-here didn’t exist? How did I get anything done?” (Google, GPS and the personal assistant functionality on my smartphone immediately come to mind.)

Also high on that list … podcasts and TED Talks! I love TED Talks because they’re short, easily-digestible (sometimes even motivational) moments of education that generations past would have had to attend a specialized stream of schooling to learn. And for those without access to education, an opportunity that never would have been available to them, ever.

So if personal finance wasn’t a part of your education growing up – fear not. A deep dive into a few exceptional TED Talks can get your started on the right track to balanced budgets and a plan for the future. I asked the team at Unplugged for their five favourite TED Talks on personal finance, and here’s what I found:

1. One Life-Changing Class You Never Took (Alexa Von Tobel)

In 11 minutes, Alexa walks us through a common financial situation for an American of my generation (student loan debt, consumer debt, no retirement savings, not negotiating salary), and (correctly) points out that even just a bit of personal finance education could have prevented some of these situations. If we didn’t have to learn about money through trial and error, and had the opportunity to learn about money early in our lives, we could have a better chance of setting ourselves up for financial success.

2) “The Battle Between Your Present and Future Self” (Daniel Goldstein)

Goldstein, a Research Fellow at the London Business School, has made a career by studying the economic behavior of Internet users.  In this talk, he discusses how savings rates throughout the developed world have been decreasing with alarming consistency, while retirement risk has been increasing.  Through experiments of virtual reality and numerical probability, Goldstein takes a crack at peoples’ unwillingness to consider the benefits of saving toward their future.

3) “How You Can Get Ahead by Saving Tomorrow, Not Today” (Shlomo Benartzi)

Behavioral finance expert Shlomo Benartzi explains how to make saving fun.  “Present bias” and “loss aversion,” often discussed in economics, influence whether people are successful at saving money.

“People mentally and emotionally and intuitively frame savings as a loss, because they have to cut spending,” Benartzi said. “It’s just painful to save now, it’s a lot more fun to spend now.”

Benartzi introduced his “save more tomorrow” plan, in which employees are shown how to save money for retirement without experiencing the pain of “losing” money in the name of saving. Worth a watch!

4) Teaching Kids Financial Literacy Through Entrepreneurship, Cameron Herold

Cameron Herold, entrepreneur and youth coach, shared how children can learn about saving money and other personal finance concepts through entrepreneurial endeavors. His TED Talks conference explained how kids who do poorly in the classroom might actually have budding business savvy that needs to be nurtured, rather than suppressed.

“Allowances teach kids the wrong habits; allowances by nature are teaching kids to think about a job,” Herold said. “An entrepreneur doesn’t expect a regular paycheck; allowances are breeding kids to expect a regular paycheck.”

Instead of expecting a flat rate allowance every week, Herold shares how he breeds smarter money habits and entrepreneurial skills in his own children.

“I teach them to walk around the house and the yard looking for stuff that needs to get done … and then we negotiate what they’re going to get paid. They don’t get a regular check, but they have more opportunities to find more stuff and they learn the skill of negotiating.”

5. Money Can Buy Happiness (Michael Norton)

According to Michael, charitable giving should always play a part in personal finance. In this Ted Talk, he reveals results of his studies showing that spending money on others actually increases your happiness more than spending on yourself. It’s a good reminder that instead of making sure we have enough money in our “fun” category, we should first-and-foremost make sure we have enough money to support people, causes and organizations we are passionate about.

Happy listening!