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Special Matching Accounts Turbo-Charge New Mexicans' Savings

June 1, 2009

Albuquerque - Financial experts say that even in troubled times saving is important, and a program in New Mexico gives a big boost to families and individuals trying to save for education, a first home, or to start a business. They're called Individual Development Accounts - IDAs - and the idea is to help lower-income New Mexicans reach for the American Dream by matching every dollar saved up to a thousand with four dollars. In other words, one thousand dollars saved can quickly become five thousand dollars.

Ann Lyn Hall, director of student transitional programs at Central New Mexico Community College, says IDAs have helped a number of students continue their education, including one recent CNM grad, Ingrid Mitchell, who was inspired by the program.

"She actually changed her major and decided that one of things that she really wanted to work on was providing financial education to Native communities throughout the state. So Ingrid minored in business and is working on applying to a Masters program."

Hall says IDAs help people build assets that they might not otherwise have been able to achieve, and she says higher education is one important type of asset to save for.

"Having the IDA funds really helps students, especially transitioning from a community college to a four-year university, find ways to really fund their education."

Hall says the savings and matching funds can be used for one of three basic purposes.

"They are to purchase a home; to capitalize a small business; or to attend post-secondary education."

The New Mexico Assets Consortium matches the savings of eligible IDA accounts. To be eligible to open an account, a household's income must be below 200 percent of the poverty line, with less than 10,000 dollars worth of assets, excluding a home and one vehicle. Account holders must also complete a financial literacy program.

More information is available at communityactionnewmexico.org

Eric Mack, Public News Service - NM