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Gift Ideas for the Graduate

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June 11, 2009

It probably comes as no surprise that cash is the most popular graduation gift, but if you’re looking for some different ideas on how to give the green, the New Jersey Society of CPAs offers up some creative options.

The average college graduate leaves school with roughly $21,000 in student debt loan, according to the Project on Student Debt.

Why not help cut some of that burden?

To ensure your gift gets used for that purpose, find out if it’s possible to write a check directly to their college or student loan company. That way, you help them whittle down their debt and remove the temptation to spend the cash on an impulse purchase.

It’s not likely a college graduate will take saving for retirement seriously given it’s so far away and they are already contending with all the costs associated with beginning their adult lives. Do the new grad a favor by making the first deposit in a Roth individual retirement account for them. Earnings on a Roth IRA are tax free and the withdrawals are tax free if they are made after age 59 ½. Even if the graduate doesn’t begin chipping in right away, you’ve started him or her on the right path and given them the gift of a nest egg.

Gift cards are the second most popular graduation gift, after cash. To make yours special, think ahead to what your graduate might need in the coming months – linens for a dorm room or first apartment, new electronics or books for classes. Make sure to check for any restrictions on how or where the recipient can use the card and if it has an expiration date. Some merchants charge purchase fees, transaction fees, inactivity fees and shipping and handling costs, which can slash the card’s value in a hurry.

For more tips on how to boost financial literacy among young people visit www.MoneyMattersNJ.com, the NJSCPA’s public service Web site and click on the Life Stages menu.

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