Top 10 TED Talks on Finance

They entertain you. They teach you. And some may even inspire you.

TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design. Those who give TED talks are typically experts in their industry, offering small tokens of wisdom that they’ve picked up over the years. Previous speakers include Olympic athletes, actors, CEO’s, scholars, and tech geniuses.

However, one of the most important aspects of TED talks is that they break down barriers and encourage conversation. Nowhere is this more pertinent than in the world of finance. Many people today are too afraid of saying something wrong to even bother to ask questions. As a result, much of the population is largely financially illiterate and unsure how to change this.

One way to start turning this around is by engaging with the small community that is already talking about money. As Jerry Maguire said, “Show me the money.” To help you in your search for financial savviness, here is our list of the top 10 TED talks on finance:

Real Estate:

Real estate often seems like an exclusive club that only white, cigar-smoking, ivy-league graduates get to join. However, it should be something that everyone can be a part of. The TED talks in this section help to break down common misconceptions about property as well as unique phenomenon that are going on today. So, whether you are renting or homeowning, have a better idea of what really goes down in real estate.

1. Moore’s Law of Real Estate | Gunnar Branson

We use our houses mainly to hold our stuff. But as “stuff” becomes less about 8-tracks/vinyl records, and more about the next song you buy on iTunes, our ideas about space and square footage will also change.

2. Why you can’t afford to buy a house and how to fix it | Laurie Macfarlane

Laurie Macfarlane discusses how real estate is a stacked game and any players who enter late are doomed. While landowners can sit back and watch as their properties increase in value, renters must deal with increasing housing demand, and thus increasing rent. And, as wages fail to keep up with property prices, more and more of people’s paychecks will go towards just keeping a roof over their heads. This leads to a situation wherein the rich get richer while the poor get poorer. While some people are fortunate enough to get financial assistance from their parents, those who don’t may simply find themselves homeless.

3. Home renters are powerless. Here’s how to fix that | Yale Fox

In a few years, renting will be the new mode of housing, instead of buying. This creates an imbalance of power which is usually addressed by rent control, inclusionary zoning, rent stabilization. However, “slum lords” still find loopholes in this system. And, if they should break their agreement to stabilize their rent, they suffer little to no consequences from the government. This has led to people spending over 65% of their paycheck on rent, when the accepted amount is usually 30%. Starting with the most crowded cities, more and more people will have to depend on their landlords for fair and affordable housing.

4. The real estate deal that could change the future of everything| Ben Miller

Who owns your environment? Who profits from the places you go? We used to invest in local real estate. We used to be part of the discussion of what got to be built in our neighborhoods, but no more. After the creation of private equity funds, real estate steadily became a commodity instead of a living, breathing place. This led to profit-hungry executives buying real estate in places they’ve never even been to, as opposed to real estate belonging to the people. Those who actually live in the neighborhood and who feel the effects of what gets built there. Ben Miller talks about how new technology and public policy could break this pattern so that we can start investing in our own communities again.

5. Housing Affordability: Win the Argument | Eliza Owen

Using real dollar values, Eliza Owens illustrates how housing is not as affordable as our parents may think. Even if we saved and saved and saved, we would still be undermined by a plethora of obstacles. For instance, decreasing wages, a lack of financial know-how, increasing student debt, etc. While she uses the unique housing situation in Sydney, Australia as her example, there are undoubtedly many things that you can take away from this TED talk. For instance, whether or not housing is affordable in your city and what the housing trends in your area suggest for the future of real estate. Through learning the basics of real estate, you will be able to contribute to the ever-growing discussion on how to make housing affordable to all.


Investing is about a lot more than putting all your money in Amazon stock. It’s about setting yourself and others up for a financially successful and sustainable future. The TED talks below will drive you to make your choices and wealth truly “count” for something.

6. What You Weren’t Taught About Making Money | Sarah Potter

This TED talk helps to clear away the mystery and intimidation surrounding investment. It dispels the idea that investing has to be done by someone with a degree in business or finance. That it has to be a full-time thing. And that it is a risky venture where you have to go all in or nothing. Instead, Sarah Potter makes investment more approachable and changes your idea of what it means to be a “trader.”

7. Why you should think about financial independence and mini-retirements | Lacey Filipich

One of humanity’s most precious nonrenewable resources is time. Which is why our current method of working until we’re old isn’t really the best option. Instead, Lacey Filipich suggests saving and investing money now so that we have the opportunity to retire while we’re still young. As she shares her personal story of a neglected health and unfulfilling work, we as an audience can learn the importance of spending time on our own terms, and not just saving all our dreams for retirement.

Financial Empowerment:

By changing the way you think about money, time, and success, we can all be more secure in our futures and content in our presents.

8. One Life-Changing Class You Never Took | Alexa von Tobel

The average American makes 6-10 money decisions a day. But they are often making these decisions blind. This leads to Americans making mistakes such as putting zero money aside for emergency situations, paying off only the minimum credit card amount, and failing to save up for retirement. As a result, 25% of mortgage applications are denied on sight, and we as Americans are over $25 million dollars in consumer debt. In this TED talk, Alexa von Tobel tackles the issue of financial illiteracy and how we all stand to gain from living financially sustainable lives.

9. When money isn’t real: the $10,000 experiment | Adam Carroll

Adam Carroll brings money to life. Literally. In a high stakes game of Monopoly, he shows how money has become intangible in a digital world. And, as a result, more and more people are going into massive debt, defaulting on their payments, and even declaring bankruptcy. Find out how to get a grip on your finances by changing the way you think about your money.

10. My No Spend Year | Michelle McGagh

If you think saving money is impossible, see how Michelle McGagh bought NOTHING in an entire year. Take control of your finances and evaluate how much joy material things actually bring you.

For more information on real estate, reach out to us today!

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