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Are you poor? Swimming in debt? Overwhelmed by words like budget, interest, or savings? The good news is you aren’t alone. The bad news is that your money situation is an emergency and needs immediate attention.
We’ve written about money management before, like how to learn personal finance the easy way. Indeed, personal finance is a skill everyone should practice. However, though there are tons of money mobile apps out there, it’s important to understand that there are no shortcuts to proper money management.
Not sure where to begin? Start with these TED Talks. While we recognize that TED Talks aren’t optimal for direct education, they are good for priming your mind and helping you understand the WHYs of personal finance before pursuing the HOWs.
Change the Way You Think About Money
“Debt used to be a four-letter word.” Meaning, debt used to be a profane idea that everyday people would avoid to the best of their ability. Contrast that with contemporary first world culture: debt is the norm and you’re given the stink eye if you are loan-averse.
In this 14-minute talk, Preet Banerjee makes a case for why we should revert our mindsets back to a time when debt was undesirable. “We need to start hating debt again,” he says. The key to climbing out of a money hole is to change the way you think about money.
For example, let’s talk about interest. When you borrow money, you have to pay it back with interest. This means that you have to pay back more money than you borrowed. Who’s paying for that difference? You are. Therefore, as Banerjee says, when you borrow money from a bank, you’re actually borrowing money from your future self.
Small perspective shifts like this — and Banerjee offers several more in his talk — might be exactly what you need to snap yourself out of a consumeristic attitude and start viewing your hard-earned money in a new light.
One Life-Changing Class You Never Took
Allow me to ask you two simple questions. First, has anyone in your life ever taught you the fundamentals of personal finance? If so, how many of those lessons do you live by on a daily basis? For most of us our answers would be, “What the heck is personal finance?”
In this 11-minute talk, Alexa von Tobel explores why over 75% of Americans feel out of control with their money and why so many people in this country worry about money every day. As it turns out, we aren’t as poor as we think we are; we’re just bad at managing our money.
So how do we fix that? She recommends three lifestyle changes that will help alleviate most of your financial worries as long as you stick to them diligently.
First, make a budget. Don’t be afraid! Budgeting sounds scary, but it’s really not. All you have to do is track all of the money you spend in a month, subtract it from your income, and look for areas where you could improve. This is extremely easy with a free expense tracker like Mint.
Second, build an emergency fund. Take a portion of every paycheck and store it in a savings account. Think about it: if you had a backup account with six months of expenses, wouldn’t you feel more secure? When unexpected troubles come your way, having a dedicated fund to dip into can be a lifesaver.
Third, pay all of your debts. Treat debt as an emergency. You’re losing thousands of dollars every year on interest payments. But more importantly, each debt that you clear provides you with more monthly cashflow because you won’t have payments to make. Wouldn’t that be nice to have?
Sell Your Crap, Pay Your Debt
If the above talk by Alexa von Tobel didn’t convince you, maybe this one by Adam Baker will. He’s a real life example — a case study, if you will — of how much your life can change for the better simply by addressing your finances with a new mindset.
How are you living your life? How does it support or hinder your pursuit of what you want out of life? Are your finances beholden to a rat race mentality, buying things you don’t need just because everyone else apparently has them?
In this 19-minute talk, Baker opens up and shares his own story that begins with a mountain of credit card/auto/student loans and ends with freedom from financial chains. What does freedom mean to you? For him, it meant traveling abroad as a family.
In order to get to that point, you need to reign in your finances and take control of your spending. Stop living life on an autopilot script determined by society. Take a step back, assess what your goals are, and start living for that.
Of course, it won’t be easy. Getting out of debt never is. However, Baker is proof that the struggle and the rewards are well worth it.
Less Stuff, More Happiness
In this short 6-minute talk, Graham Hill lays out the facts: we have more stuff than we’ve ever had in history, yet many of us are far from happy. Why are we this way? What can we do to curb this? Are we doomed to forever fall down the spiral of consumeristic unhappiness?
We’re all drowning in debt, some of us more than others. We buy way more than we need, we’re slaves to novelty addiction, and we’re just wasteful in general. But it’s more than that. All of this “stuff” that we chase ultimately impedes our sense of freedom.
Hill’s recommendation is simple: you need to edit your life. Writers know this inside and out. You start out with a first draft that’s chunky and inefficient and downright wrong, so you edit it. You clean it up. You get rid of the excess and you’re left with a polished, satisfying piece.
The same goes for life. When you aren’t weighed down by your possessions, you have more freedom (and more money) to pursue the activities, experiences, and memories that truly matter to you.
More Related TED Talks to Watch
The mind is your greatest friend (or your greatest enemy) when it comes to personal finance, so perhaps you’d benefit from these TED Talk about psychology. If finances seem insurmountable, get pumped up with these motivational TED Talks.
And if debt ever gets you down, cheer up with these uplifting TED Talks that will at least put a smile on your face.
How do you fare against your finances? Are you in control of your savings or are you buried under meaningless expenses? Did you find these TED Talks helpful at all? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!