MSU students attend financial literacy event

Financial literacy coach Eric Smith gave budgeting and financial planning advice to Mississippi State University students Monday afternoon as well as played educational games and provided lunch to students. (Photo by Mary Rumore, SDN)
Staff Writer

Financial literacy coach Eric Smith partnered with Regions bank to offer financial literacy and budgeting advice to students at colleges throughout the country, and he spoke to Mississippi State University students Monday afternoon at the Union Dawg House.

According to Smith, 60 percent of college graduates have no money in savings, 60 percent of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, 64 percent of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings in any account and half of Americans don't have $500 to their name.

"If you're always struggling and stressed about money, you'll never live up to your financial potential, or your full potential period," Smith said.

Smith said the first step in being financially successful is to create a budget, or monthly spending plan including income and expenses, and following it monthly.

Smith suggested, and for budgeting ideas.

Paying yourself first, or setting aside money for savings, is the first step in creating a spending plan, Smith explained.

He then quoted Warren Buffet, "Don't save what's left after spending. Spend what's left after saving," to better explain how to save money each month by setting aside money for savings first.

people can save at least $500 each month by never spending pocket change, Smith said, and around $1,500 each month by never spending $1 bills.

Smith said the second step in being financially successful is living a 80-10-10 lifestyle.

According to Smith, you should give yourself permission to spend 80 percent of every dollar you have, while saving 10 percent and donating or giving away 10 percent.

Another way to be financially successful, according to Smith, is by living within your means and avoiding debt, or spending more money than you have.

Smith said 40 percent of Americans spend more money than they have, and the average American with credit card debts owes $16,000. One in three Americans will be enslaved to their debt for 42 years, and one in seven Americans owes more than $45,000.

To improve your credit, pay your bills on time, don't leave more than 30 percent of your credit limit outstanding each month and have no more than two credit cards, according to Smith.

Smith said, to avoid credit card scams, never give out personal or banking information on the internet or over the phone and do not put your full name or birthday on social media because it is needed for identity theft and scams. Legitimate banks will ask for the last four numbers of your social security numbers.

Smith said another way to avoid scams is to only pay for gas inside at the cashier, or if you must pay at the pump, select "credit" instead of "debit" even if using a debit card to keep scammers from getting the four digit pin associated with your debit account.