Financial literacy coach Eric Smith shares tips for saving money

Financial literacy coach Eric Smith shares money-saving tips with students.

Financial literacy coach Eric Smith shares money-saving tips with students.

Financial literacy coach Eric Smith wants every college student to get “S.M.A.R.T.” about money, particularly when it comes to saving.  S.M.A.R.T. stands for Save, Make a budget, Avoid debt, Resist overspending, and Think of others. According to Smith, 60 percent of students will graduate from college not having saved any money. But that doesn’t have to be the case. Smith says it’s easy to save money regardless of how much money you earn. “Oftentimes people think that investing and saving money starts when they leave school,” Smith said. “It is more important that you start saving early than it is to start saving a lot.”

Smith is a former banking executive and creator of “The Money Game Literacy Program” who now travels the country teaching money management skills to students and rookies in the NFL and NBA. He spoke to students at the Union Avenue and Macon Cove campuses last month where he shared basic money management tips on how they can plan for their financial future. “You have to have the know before you get the dough,” Smith said. “That’s just the reality. It starts with knowledge.”

Smith said the biggest misnomer he hears from people is that they don’t make enough money to save enough money. The truth, he said, is that anybody can save some amount of money regardless of their job or income. “The reality is, you don’t have to make a ton of money to be financially successful,” Smith said. “You have a chance to be successful even in a low-paying career.” Saving just $20 a week and investing that money in a mutual fund that pays 10 percent compounded interest annually for 50 years will grow to $330,000 by age 70.

Smith encouraged students to make a monthly budget and to save ten percent of their income each year.

Smith encouraged students to make a monthly budget and to save ten percent of their income each year.

Smith explained his S.M.A.R.T. tips and encouraged students to live an 80-10-10 life – spend 80 percent on living expenses, save 10 percent, and give 10 percent away. “If you live an 80-10-10 life, you can accomplish many goals you have in life.” Smith said making a budget and sticking to it is the first step. “No budget, no success. A budget will help you save money, get out of debt faster, and control your money.”

Smith concluded by sharing phone apps that can help students save money: Acorns, which automatically invests your spare change into a stock portfolio, and Ibotta, which gives money back on certain in-store and on line purchases. Smith said using those apps can save students $400 to $1,200 a year. “When I meet you again in 12 months, I want you to be $1,000 wealthier than you are right now,” he said. “I think you can accomplish that.”