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Starting early — As recently addressed in a Metro Times cover story, the average price tag of sending your kid to college has been soaring, and shows no signs of slowing down. As such, many parents are thinking ahead — way ahead — and starting college savings funds when their offspring are still in diapers.

At the Web site upromise.com, by simply signing up for the program, you can start saving for your child's future high education by registering your credit cards, the idea being you'll get money back (1 to 5 percent) from your everyday spending at the grocery and drug store.

The company, which recently merged with student loan company Sallie Mae (salliemae.com), works with a number of companies who give back money for each dollar you spend on their products.

"But what's in it for the companies?" you skeptically ask. Upromise posts a list of all its participating businesses on its Web site — everything from restaurants to florists to salad dressing makers. Thus, when standing in a grocery store and faced with the difficult decision between BBQ sauce A or BBQ sauce B, you'll (they hope) decide on the company that's signed up with Upromise so you can get a certain percentage of the price tag back and into your kid's college savings fund.

As one user remarked after signing up for her 9-month-old baby boy, "We've already saved $5 without doing a damn thing. By college time, he should have enough for a pizza or something."

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