5 smart tips for graduation gifts

What to give the newly minted graduate? Here are some money-smart ideas from financial experts.

1. CASH IS KING, BUT

It’s probably the most-wanted gift, but also the easiest to fritter away. If your son or daughter is sitting on a stash of checks, have a conversation about how that money should be spent. “You want to guide them. Sit down and have a conversation with your graduate,” said Rachel Cruze, co-author of a new book, “Smart Money Smart Kids.” “Encourage them to have a little fun with the money, but also to set aside some for the future: college expenses, life expenses.”

For a new college graduate, it might be helpful to set aside some grad money for tuition or paying down student-loan debt. “Even if it’s only $1,000, that’s a thousand you don’t have to pay back with interest,” said Cruze, a Nashville resident whose father is personal-finance guru Dave Ramsey.

With cash, she notes, it’s so easy to waste it. Be intentional. Have a plan.

2. YES, THE GIFT CARD

Gift cards are the easiest and most practical gift, especially when they’re to stores or places that young grads need: say, Target or Bed Bath &Beyond for dorm-room essentials. Or to the campus bookstore to help offset the cost of buying textbooks and supplies. For those entering the working world, it could be a gift card for a favorite grocery store, coffee shop or to a retailer like Macy’s or Men’s Wearhouse for a post-college wardrobe upgrade.

3. GET OUT OF DEBT

If you’re planning to give cash, consider earmarking the money to pay down a student loan or credit-card debt.

“Helping your graduate reduce that burden will enable them to focus their resources in other areas, such as saving,” said Jean Towell, manager of TheMintGrad.org, an online site geared toward college students and graduates.

And while it isn’t exactly a heartwarming idea, she also suggests a subscription to a credit-monitoring service to emphasize the importance of a good credit score.

4. GIFT OF GOOD ADVICE

In a recent Northwestern Mutual survey, almost a third of millennials — those ages 18 to 29 — said they don’t know where to find help in managing their money. Giving them a session with a certified financial planner could be the gift of good advice.

“Introducing a grad to an experienced adviser who can assist with comprehensive planning — whether paying off loans or building a nest egg — will encourage good financial habits and support long-term financial security,” said Towell, who responded by email while traveling to a family graduation event. “What more can any parent or grandparent want?”

5. HELP WITH WORK WORLD

Some of the best gifts are those that help a new graduate enter the hypercompetitive job market. J.M Henderson, a financial blogger and Forbes.com contributor, suggests paying for their membership to a professional association related to their major. It’s “a gift of access,” Henderson said. “Grads get the opportunity to network with others in their field (including potential mentors), participate in professional development opportunities and get access to relevant job postings.”

More in Herald Business Journal

Tulalips break ground on new Quil Ceda Creek Casino Hotel

A 150-room hotel was added to what is now a $140 million complex expected to open in spring 2019.

For modern women, 98-year-old rejection letters still sting

In a stark new video, female Boeing engineers break the silence about past inopportunity.

Angel of the Winds pays $3.4M for Everett arena naming rights

The casino replaces Xfinity as the lead sponsor for the publicly owned downtown Everett events center.

Teddy, an English bulldog, models Zentek Clothing’s heat regulating dog jacket. (Ian Terry / The Herald)
Everett clothing company keeps your dog cool and stylish

Zentek uses space-age fabrics to moderate the temperature of pets and now humans.

Providence Hospital in Everett at sunset Monday night. Officials Providence St. Joseph Health Ascension Health reportedly are discussing a merger that would create a chain of hospitals, including Providence Regional Medical Center Everett, plus clinics and medical care centers in 26 states spanning both coasts. (Kevin Clark / The Daily Herald)
Merger would make Providence part of health care behemoth

Providence St. Joseph Health and Ascension Health are said to be talking. Swedish would also be affected.

Bombardier promotes its C Series airliner as American made

It says more than half its all-new jet is made in US factories with final assembly near Montreal.

Everett engineers learn lessons from Mexico City catastrophe

Structural scientists went to help after the September earthquake there and studied the damage.

Airports want to nearly double passengers’ user fees

Delta says airports will rake in $3.6 billion in passenger facility charge taxes this year.

UPS delays mount as online shopping hobbles courier’s network

FedEx completed 97.1 percent of its ground deliveries on time in the same period.

Most Read