GUEST CONTRIBUTOR: KATHY RIGGS, USU EXTENSION PROFESSOR
Meaningful graduation gifts - Must they have a price tag attached? It’s again the time of year when graduation announcements begin to fill up mail boxes and social media pages. Though most graduates will experience a non-traditional ceremony this year, friends and family will still wish to acknowledge the hard work of high school, college or technology school graduates. However, with financial strains placed on many families, it can be difficult to know how much to spend and what type of gift will still be meaningful with less discretionary funds available.
Some may still consider giving a laptop, new smart phone or car. However, these can be very expensive and out of reach for many parents, especially when finances may be stretched just to cover basic necessities. However, this is a great time to share some sound financial advice-- which may be the most useful “food for thought” gift a parent can give. It may be that going to a quiet spot to share a favorite take-out meal will help the advice to be easier to share and easier to accept.
For parents: Six possible financial management strategies to consider sharing:
It might be wise for parents to make a business-card sized, laminated card with the tips listed so the graduate can place it in his or her wallet and see it often.
For friends and relatives:
Even if the graduates aren’t directly related, it’s nice to honor them in some small way so they feel a sense of appreciation for their hard-earned accomplishments. With that said, you can compliment someone for an achievement without feeling obligated to send a gift for every announcement you receive or for every neighbor, co-worker or acquaintance who is excited about their son or daughter graduating.
Books, jewelry and other trinkets are common gifts; however, money often talks, and by pooling financial gifts from family and friends, graduates can purchase something they may really need as they head off for college or that first job away from home. There are no general guidelines on amount, except for staying within the budget. Givers may want to send $100 but $10 may be more realistic.
If you don’t like giving cash because you want more control over the type of item the graduate purchases, or you want to help him or her spend it wisely, gift cards are a good choice. Choose a store that carries a variety of household or technology items that will come in handy for the graduate. Another option is a gift card to a local restaurant or a chain. If the graduate is moving, choose one that has a business in the city where he or she is moving.
For those who can’t afford a gift or would prefer one that doesn’t have a price tag attached to it, consider offering service. Changing the oil in a vehicle, providing boxes or totes for personal belongings or offering to help move could be very helpful to a graduate.
Kathy Riggs is an Extension Professor with expertise in Home Food Preservation/Storage and 4-H Afterschool programming. I also dabble in several other areas including Financial Management! In my time outside of work, I participate in regular therapy sessions puttering in my yard and garden. I also love to hang out with family and spend time in the kitchen.
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