By Brittany Leona Parks, writer, my529

Are there any products available today that can truly improve financial, career, and mental well-being? Consider what a 529 college savings plan can do. Setting money aside to reduce or eliminate the need for student loans can benefit lives significantly.

Boost early income. Embarking on the adventure of your first job can be stressful enough without having to worry about a significant portion of that paycheck being unavailable. Students commonly believe they can worry about their student loans later. Unfortunately, the payments often come due simultaneous to other expenses in a young person’s life, like buying a car, relocating, or setting up a new home. This is also when early investments have the greatest potential for growth over time. These factors can have a crucial influence on future wealth and quality of life.

Set a strong foundation for life. The financial burden of student loans can delay other milestones like starting a family or buying a home. Gen X first experienced the burden of student loans, then Millennials, and now it shapes how Gen Z views the value of certain degrees or schools. For second-generation college graduates, parents’ outstanding student loan debt could have affected how much money their parents could set aside for them to attend school.

Find freedom and flexibility to optimize opportunities. Recent graduates likely saw their parents struggle economically during the Great Recession and, as such, understand that jobs are not distributed with diplomas. Allowing for some extra time to find the best position — rather than settling for just any job that will pay the bills — can boost lifetime earnings and accelerate career advancement. It can also give you the freedom to pursue a more fulfilling job, but perhaps it pays less.

Reduce the potential to feel financially overwhelmed. Student loans — just like any financial debt — can increase stress and lead to life-long and far-reaching negative consequences. Failing to keep up with student loan payments could ruin credit scores and result in garnished wages and Social Security benefits. Life can be challenging enough, and it’s unlikely that a recent graduate wouldn’t have, at the very least, some financial concerns. This can make facing decades of future bills feel particularly intimidating, especially if students understand how compound interest can change the equation.

Benefit from earnings — not accruing interest on a loan. If students can set aside money now, those compounding gains can work to their advantage. Demonstrating how saving pays off is a beautiful lesson that can also benefit future generations. It is important to remember that, on average, students who graduate with postsecondary degrees see higher earnings, more career opportunities, and better health outcomes — making the cost of higher education even more worthwhile.

Help your student be part of the over 30% who graduate from higher education without student loans and reduce the financial, career, and mental health burdens through investing early and often into a 529 college savings plan.

About the author:

Brittany Leona Parks is a writer for my529, Utah’s educational savings plan. When not researching financial best practices for children, she is trying these strategies out on her own two kids, hiking with her family, and participating in entirely too many book clubs. She previously spent 8 years marketing to the financial and legal sectors.