Many people think the new 529 plans are a smart way to save for their children's college expenses. While that may be true in some instances, be cautious, advises Paul Jacobsen, certified-public accountant with Jacobsen & Co. in Visalia, Calif.

A 529 plan allows you to save for college in a tax-free account.

But, Jacobsen adds, the new federal tax laws found under the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 end in 2010. A whole new set of laws could apply to children who haven't reached college by 2010, including those children who currently are nine years of age or younger.

The Wall Street Journal has reported that individuals who've invested in 529 plans have seen their account portfolios drop because of the recent bear market.

Long term, Jacobsen says, a Roth IRA may be a better bet for those financing needs.