ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – It’s never too late to start planning ahead, especially when it comes to money and how to make high education more affordable. Something Haley Phillips knows firsthand but for her, it’s never too early to start saving.

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Phillips is a second-grade teacher in Albuquerque. She knew she wanted to be a teacher at a young age.

She made that dream possible when she graduated from UNM in 2019, with a degree she didn’t have to pay a dime for. That’s all thanks to a 529 college savings plan. “My grandparents opened it when I was little,” said Phillips.

Because of that savings plan, Phillips was able to afford joining a sorority and graduate debt-free. That not only saved her financially while in college but later on with circumstances no one could predict. “We didn’t know that COVID was going to happen,” said Phillips.

Throughout the pandemic, as businesses closed and some friends and family lost jobs, Phillips was thankful to not have student loans weighing her down. “I was able to not be that person that had to live check to check,” said Phillips.

Now, she’s opening up one not only for herself but for her future children. “They don’t have to worry about the extra cost of college and they can have a little bit more freedom,” said Phillips.

It’s a unique circumstance but in some cases, the fund can be used more than once. Joanie Griffin opened an account over twenty years ago for her son but when he didn’t need it, she ended up helping not only her daughter-in-law but her stepdaughter. One day that could also help her granddaughter. “When she gets to college-age she will have more than enough to pursue a college education,” said Griffin.

Knowing firsthand the potential of what a savings plan could provide, Phillips knows the importance of investing in your future. “A lot of jobs want you to have those kinds of requirements,” said Phillips.

The plan not only benefits the person attending school but also the person depositing money. At the end of the year, contributions can also count as a tax break.