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The time to start saving for college is now

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A new report shows that many families have not been saving for college. According to Sallie Mae, only half of American parents having been setting aside money, and that figure has dropped in the last two years.

No matter where you go for financial advice, when it comes to saving for college, experts say the same thing -- start saving now!

"If you haven't started, start. Do it tomorrow," said Laura Preston

Preston is no financial expert. She's is a mother to an 8-year-old daughter and a 12-year-old son. She started saving when they were just over a year old with a 529 plan.

"So, what we did with both of those programs is just started an automatic deduction that comes out each month," said Preston.

A 529 plan is an education savings plan operated by states that have tax advantages designed to help families save for college.

Financial guru Dave Ramsey supports 529's, but he says choose wisely. There are two dozen states that allow anyone to enroll in their plan no matter where you live. He and other experts say an education savings account will allow you to contribute up to $2,000 a year if you make less than $200,000 a year.

Preston uses the Upromise 529 program, which allows her everyday purchases to go toward her college savings.

"We have a Upromise Mastercard that we use, so that every time that we use that card, a certain portion  of the amount that we spend on that card is put into this Upromise fund. And then you can link another 529 plan up to it, so when the money transfers, then it's starting to grow," said Preston.

If college for you kids is sooner than later, it's not too late to contribute to a 529. But, you also need to take a look at taking on a part-time job and less expensive college tuition. Ramsey and other experts say whatever you do, don't take on huge amounts of debt.

For more information on 529's and tips for saving now, visit the links listed below:

Dave Ramsey's College Guide

Saving for College

Suze Orman - Paying for College

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