What Gift to Give a High School Grad?

Last month I asked the question of what money book to get a high school graduate?

The reason is that I have a brother-in-law graduating from high school next week.

We want to get him something for his upcoming college expenses.

However, as the title suggests, we would also like to give him a few personal finance books as inspiration/guidance for his future?

Do you need gift ideas for the high school grads you know? Here are some great books that will help any graduate make wise financial decisions for their future. Check out PT's recommendations for the graduation gifts you need!

So I posed the question on my blog, at yahoo answers, and on the Money Blogger Network forums.

Money Books for Graduates

Many people seemed to have a good opinion about what to give. I got plenty of quality responses. Here are some:

  • The Neatest Little Guide to Personal Finance
  • Economics in One Lesson
  • The Only Investment Guide You Will Ever Need
  • The Millionaire Next Door
  • The Wealthy Barber
  • Rich Dad, Poor Dad
  • Young, Fabulous, and Broke
  • Who Moved My Cheese?
  • Get a Financial Life
  • Degunking Your Personal Finances
  • The Debt-Free Graduate
  • Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees?!

Thanks for all your contributions. However, we decided not to get a book. Mainly because I just didn’t find one that specifically addressed high school graduates’ money issues.

I find this very telling. How many of us come out of college with plenty of personal finance problems and poor habits? What if we’d spent those college years armed with quality directed advice on our personal finances?

This is an excellent opportunity for someone in the financial sphere to write a good book on this specific topic. I bet there are some other ways, like blogs, that high school grads are getting good info from. I know there’s youngmoney.com. Anyone know of any other resources?

Since this post was published, Grant Baldwin has published Reality Check. It’s actually a book I would recommend for most high school students or recent graduates.

High School Graduation Gift Ideas

We also decided not to get a book because we thought of two better gifts and decided to stop at two. The two gifts we ended up getting him were:

$50 gift card to Walmart. We gave this instead of cash, so that our contribution wouldn’t get spent frivolously on fast food or arcade games. We hope he uses it to purchase supplies for his college apartment.

$50 gift of savings from our Capital One 360 Savings Account. This is a wonderful tool provided by ING. All you have to do is make a referral and select the gift option. We hope this will get him headed down the path of healthy savings.

Beyond these two, there are plenty of other high school graduation gift ideas. Some of my favorites: cash, a throw blanket, jewelry, art or picture frames, organizing stuff, towels, electronics, and tools.

An Open Letter to High School Graduates

In addition to tangible gifts, it’s also a good idea to share some wisdom with newly launched adults. Hopefully, this open letter to high school graduates can provide some useful personal finance tips for the real world.

To All High School Graduates,

First, congrats to you on your many successes and achievements. Take a moment and be proud of yourself . . . you deserve it.

Newton D. Baker once said: “The man who graduates today and stops learning tomorrow is uneducated the day after.”

In light of this statement, I offer you the chance to continue your education with a few words of wisdom and counsel pertaining to personal finance.

Now is a Perfect Time to Begin Saving

Whether you receive a financial gift or earn a paycheck, make sure you hold back a percentage of every dollar that comes your way and deposit it into a savings account.

I know you’ve probably heard this before, but chances are high that you’ll listen to me since I’m not your mom or your dad.

Trust me, saving a portion of each dollar is the smartest thing you can do at this point in your life. You don’t need to make big bucks to make a big impact with your savings. If you can develop a habit of saving money now, it will pay off in accumulation and in future financial self-discipline.

Make Sure You Understand How Much College Actually Costs

My student loans paid more than my actual tuition costs, and whenever I’d get the check for the difference, it felt like I’d won the lottery. I remember thinking I had enough to make it rain every time that check came in.

Needless to say, I wasn’t making wise decisions with that leftover student loan money. Don’t make my mistake.

Even if you receive scholarships, most students will pay for college through the use of financial aid student loans. This is not free money. When signing up for financial aid, do not take on more student loan debt than absolutely necessary. Fill out more scholarship applications than loan applications. Remember, you will be the one making the payments after college.

Beware of Credit Cards

Welcome to adulthood. Now try to avoid debt at all costs.

Credit cards can feel like an easy way to buy now and pay later, but they are often a trap. You don’t want to throw away your financial future for easy purchases now.

A credit card can help you begin to build your credit history, which you will need for numerous things later in life. But using a credit card wisely and relying on it to fund your lifestyle are two drastically different things. Your credit card shouldn’t bankroll your lifestyle or something you use to impress your friends.

Instead, make smart purchases, develop a budget, and begin using your financial brain to become a responsible spender.

If you are concerned about your credit, check out our ultimate guide to credit

Learn from a Mentor

No matter what your circumstances may be, there’s always going to be someone else who has experienced what you’re going through. Find that person, learn from them, take notice of their warnings, and learn some wise life skills. Don’t think you’re too smart to learn from others.

Again, congratulations on your high school success. May you have an excellent future and an abundant bank account.


PT from PT Money

Can you think of any good high school graduation gift ideas or good money books for graduates? Or do you have any money advice for high school graduates to add to my letter? Tell us about it in the comments!

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  1. Avatar Shirley Radant says:

    Two years ago I gave my high school graduating granddaughter a cute book containing many quarters for such items as laundry machines,  gas money, bus money, treat money, etc.  It was very clever and the graduate appreciated the quarters (probably about $10 or $15 worth of quarters)  I can’t find it anywhere this year when I have another granddaughter graduating high school and going on to college.  Have you seen anything like this?  Shirley

  2. Thanks for the comments. I’ll post a link to your site on my blog and I’ll be sure and check out your review of that book. Thanks, again!

  3. I wish I saw this sooner. I reviewed Debt is Slavery for the publisher and wrote specifically in the review that I thought it was good for younger folks in high school because it cautions them about spending and going into debt and how much it’s a burden.

    If you want, email me and I can send you the link. I don’t want to be a link spammer on your comments. 🙂

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