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Financial gifts to help new grads prepare for tomorrow

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If you have a new college graduate in your life, you may be wondering what gift you can give them that is more meaningful than a Macy’s gift card or a stack of linens. One thing that most American graduates lack is financial understanding. One study conducted by Arkansas State University found that college students lacked basic financial and budgeting skills. College graduates often overestimate their future earnings and underestimate their school debt. In Washington, a test by the National Financial Educators Council found that 15 to 18-year-old participants scored an average of 60.1 percent on a financial literacy test. The good news is that average showed an increase over scores for the last three years. People 19 to 24 years of age scored 67 percent overall. As you consider gift options, consider a gift that will pay off for your graduate when he or she is your age and maybe protect you from becoming the Bank Of Mom & Dad (or Grandma & Grandpa).

Give the gift of a financial education by:

Offering a financial planning session. Newly graduated students often put off acquiring financial tools in favor of the car, the house, the family, student debt or any of a myriad of expenses that will never go away no matter what they think. Counteract that by hiring a financial advisor to help them establish a budget on their limited income while seeing to the very real financial expenses of paying off student loans and preparing for life in the real world.

Hiring a career coach. Career coaches run about $50 an hour. Hiring a career coach might prevent your new college grad from having to borrow your couch for a few months. More than half of college students remain unemployed six months after graduating according to this article.

Starting your grad out with an IRA. At 20, you tend to think you have years and years before you even need to consider retirement but as those of us at the other end of the time line know, the years can get away from you. Sometimes all it takes is getting the ball rolling and the little lightbulb goes off. Opening an IRA will teach your grad about compound interest and provide them with either a down payment on a house later on or a retirement account when they need it later.

Signing your grad up for a budgeting course. Learning to manage a budget should be one of the first things a new grad learns because frankly all the rest of their life will focus on earning more than they spend. If your grad isn’t totally burned out on school some community colleges offer courses but you can also find help online at Wallet Wise, You Need A Budget, and more.

Helping your grad become an investor. Shares of stocks or bonds or mutual funds can help your grad begin to build and manage their own wealth.

Subscribing to financial freedom. Subscriptions to magazines that cover industry news or the latest tech or events can help prevent your grad from beginning a slow slide in losing their new skills and education. With over 7,000 magazines printed in the U.S. each year, there is bound to be something that focuses on his or her current skills and adds to it.

Giving a financial planning book. Let’s face, it not everyone can afford to pay for someone else to get financial planning advice or do many of the other things listed here but some financial advice books out there are written specifically for the new high school or college grad and can offer a low cost effective way to start planning for a financial future. Here’s a list of books for the under 30 set.

If you are considering one of the more expensive options listed here, remember that you can give up to $14,000 a year to a recipient without filing a gift tax return. Here’s some advice and even more advice.

Finally, consider hiring an attorney. Newly minted adults need Powers of Attorney, Wills and Living Wills in case of emergencies and many of them will neglect those items because they’re invincible. Those documents will allow someone else to make key financial and legal decisions on their behalf.

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