7 inexpensive graduation gifts

By Julie Bawden-Davis

Graduation is a monumental achievement that calls for celebration and rewards. But while you surely want to show your graduate how proud you are, you probably don't want to drain your savings account in the process.

With a little thought and ingenuity, it is possible to come up with graduation gifts that are economical yet memorable. Here are seven ideas to get you started:

1. Sage advice

If you're older and more experienced, your new graduate is likely to welcome your advice. Offer to help write a resume or reveal your top tips for success in a card, or a list of things you wish someone had told you when you graduated.

2. Work contacts

If your graduate will enter the work world and seek a job in an industry in which you have contacts, the best gift you can give is access to professionals in the field. Talk to those you know in the industry and ask if they'll meet with your graduate. On graduation day, hand over the expert's business card and invitation and watch the thrilled look on your graduate's face.

3. A savings account

A financial head start in life is a precious gift that can last a lifetime. Open a savings account and put in as much as you can afford. Some banks offer financial incentives to new account holders, which can help boost the account balance.

4. Savings bonds or a CD

A savings vehicle that matures at a later date, such as a savings bond or certificate of deposit (CD), gives you the opportunity to contribute to your graduate's long-term financial health. Such gifts are also financially savvy for you, as interest will make your gift grow and at maturity your recipient will receive more money than you initially deposited. Your high school graduate is also likely to thank you when college graduation rolls around and the nest egg you started has grown substantially.

5. Stocks

Buying stock in a company and offering it as a gift sends a message to the graduate that it's time to start saving money and investing in the future. If the stock you choose does well, the graduate will eventually enjoy more money than your initial investment.

6. A money tree

Graduates welcome spending money, and creating a money tree that consists of a treelike structure covered in bills is a dramatic way to give cash. Attaching ones and fives and an occasional ten or twenty to the tree won't strain your wallet, but it will look impressive.

7. A photo album

If you're privy to the graduate's formative years and have photos to prove it, this gives you the opportunity to share your memories in a personalized photo album. Writing little stories on the pages revealing background on the pictures will thrill your graduate and provide a lifelong keepsake.

Coming up with fun yet inexpensive graduation presents may take some time, but the result of a appreciative graduate is well worth the effort.