What Gift Should I Give?

Graduation season is coming up soon! Whether it's a high school graduation or college, gift giving season is in full swing come May. According to the National Retail Federation total gift spending last graduation season was expected to reach $5.2 billion. The average person buying graduation gifts will spend $102.51. That's a lot of money being transferred to the new graduates. Below are some financial ideas to consider.

How Much to Give?

For me, this is one of the most difficult decisions my partner and I face when giving a monetary gift. We try to be fair to each generation and give the same dollar amount, but that's not always realistic. We have conversations about "well how much did we give to ________?" Life circumstances change and we're able to give more or less depending on how well we budget that particular month/year. While I know cash is appreciated and one of the easiest ways to give a gift, are there other options to help a new graduate out?

Other ideas?

- Experiences

I will say I am a big fan of giving experiences instead of gifts. Whether the experience is enjoyed with the new graduate or gifted, it makes me feel good inside to help them create a new memory. For a high school student, maybe this is a small weekend trip to a new location or even dinner and a movie. Getting to make those experiences are priceless. For a new college graduate, maybe it's concert or sport tickets, it could also be a membership to an art museum. You know your graduate best, find something the two of you can do together.

- Needs

Another idea instead of just cash is helping them purchase something they need. For a high school graduate this could be new dorm furniture/accessories, laptop, or even a gas card to help them get back and forth from home to college. For a new college graduate, maybe its furniture for their new apartment, assisting with moving expenses, or helping them purchase their first few pieces of a professional wardrobe.

- Emergency Fund

While this last idea is cash, its intended purpose is to help jumpstart or fund an emergency fund. Maybe you give it to the graduate in a frozen block of ice [lol], try and make it clear that this is what the money is for. That way you can plant the seed that having an emergency fund is important, but that $20 worth of pizza at 2am is not considered an emergency.

Graduation celebrates a change in a young adult's life, moving on from one accomplishment into the next chapter. If you're feeling pinched financially from all the graduations coming up, plan out your budget or consider waiting until those first few months of their next chapter, that way you can plan for it since the season is upon us. Ultimately you know your graduate best.