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Give Your New Graduate A Financial Head Start

Getting young adults on the right path with their finances is the best way to mark a rite of passage to adulthood.

(Image: Thinkstock)

(Image: Thinkstock)

Many families will be celebrating the graduations of loved ones from high school and college in a few weeks. Whether earning diplomas or degrees, this represents a major right of passage into adulthood. There are many things you can purchase as a gift for your newly minted graduate. Allow me to recommend some ideas that will start them off with the right attitude toward their financial education and habits of smart money management.

Get them gift subscriptions to business and financial magazines that will help them to learn about handling money as well as inspire them with career and business role models and strategies. Of course, I recommend that at least one of those subscriptions be to Black Enterprise, which can be delivered as a printed magazine or via tablet or laptop. Best of all, this is a gift that will not bust your budget.

Also, instead of a new car or an expensive trip as a graduation gift, how about offering to make a lump sum payment on their college loan? Those who graduated college in 2011 did so with an average of $26,600 in student loan debt. As many of us can personally attest, that’s a tremendous burden for young adults to carry as they are trying to get established and launch careers.

Another option: give them a clean slate by offering to wipe out their credit card debt, along with setting up a meeting with a credit counselor so they can learn how to keep that slate clean. The average college student graduates with more than $2,000 in credit card debt. You can find a qualified credit counselor through the National Foundation for Credit Counseling; visit their web site at DebtAdvice.org.

Another great financial gift for a young adult: paying for a consultation with a financial planner. This is especially helpful to those starting new jobs after graduation, who need to get help understanding job benefits, and encouragement to start saving for retirement now, not later. A financial planner can help establish short (example: an emergency savings fund), medium (down payment to buy a first home) and long-term financial goals (launching a business) and develop a budget for the new graduate to follow to meet those goals. They may also help her to deal with the new challenge of filing taxes, as well as make recommendations on how to allocate investments in her 401(k) or other retirement savings vehicle.

The point is to help young people get off on the right path with their finances. It could be the most valuable graduation gift they can get.

These are my recommendations for gifts to get new graduates off to a healthy financial start. What are yours? What great gifts have you given or received that helped you to get your finances off on the right foot as you transitioned to independent young adulthood?

This blog is dedicated to my thoughts about money, entrepreneurship, leadership, mentorship and other things I need to get #OffMyChest. Follow me on Twitter at @AlfredEdmondJr.

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