More Than Money: Creative Financial Gifts for GraduatesBy: Mary Grace Musuneggi
I always used to find it difficult to come up with a creative gift idea when I was invited to birthday, anniversary, and graduation parties. Rather than give the obvious “money in an envelope,” I wanted to offer something more permanent. And sometimes it was not appropriate to give money, no matter how appreciated it might be.
So over the years I have taken note of what others give at these times and kept a list of good ideas. With graduations, both college and high school, right around the corner, I pulled out some clever and financially-focused ideas from that list to share with you.
Of course, there is always the contribution to a 529 for the high school graduate, or a US Savings Bond or Direct Stock Reinvestment Plans for any graduate. You can even make a contribution to an IRA or a Roth IRA for the working student. Something always appreciated is paying off a student’s credit card bill; or for college graduates, you might make the deposit on their first month’s rent or buy the outfit for their first day at work. These are creative variations on the cash gift.
Books on personal finance are always a good idea, too, and they abound on Amazon. Some of my favorites are by Dave Ramsey, and one of the most unusual financial books I like is Consequences: A Unique Approach to Financial Planning for Young Adults, by John Blankenship. This book is not the typical “Investing 101” text, but more of a lesson that teaches young people about financial decisions by exploring consequences associated with the choices they make.
I have a friend who gives board games with her gift of money. These are usually Monopoly or The Game of Life–games that make a statement about handling finances and life. Some more unusual ones are Rich Dad Cashflow 101 board game, by Rich Dad Poor Dad; I’m Debt Free Game by GMB Products; and Charge Large by Hasbro.
And a more personal option is to purchase a session with a Financial Consultant. A first-time session should cover Budgeting, Use of Credit, Investing 101, as well as planning for future goals such as home ownership or retirement.
Whatever the gift, the fact is obvious that all graduates need money. But more importantly, they need to learn how to manage that money wisely. A unique or fun approach beyond the “money in the envelope” might get them thinking about good money management early. And the earlier the better.