Thoughful Graduation Gifts that Won’t Break the Bank

College graduation is special moment traditionally celebrated with fancy gifts that mark the end of an academic life and start of a career.

None of the pricey designer purses, cars and flashy diamond earrings my friends received as graduation gifts from their parents appealed to me. My parents asked me over and over again what I wanted for graduation, but I couldn’t decide.

On a long shot, I asked for a golden retriever puppy. I got him. His name is Bentley.

That was two years ago. I can’t imagine life without him.

My friends occasionally wear the jewelry, the designer purses are still in their handbag rotation and the cars are driven, but the satisfaction they get from those gifts pales in comparison to the joy Bentley brings me every day.

Make It Meaningful

No one really needs a shiny pen and pen case, especially one that costs more than $100. Flowers are a nice gesture, but they die quickly and are soon forgotten.

A graduation gift should be something meaningful and personal they will use long after the cap and gown come off.

Graduation Gift Ideas

Leather-bound planner: An excellent gift for the business major that’s more useful than a fancy pen. And like the pen, you can personalize them for an added touch. You can find these for around $50. That’s a bargain compared to the $100 pen set.

Technology magazine subscription: This is an inexpensive gift for the computer science major, engineer or all-around computer geek who eats, lives, and breathes technology. Why not buy them more knowledge? Maybe even an enrollment in code school to help them improve their chances of landing a high-tech job.

Airplane ticket: Don’t buy the ticket yourself, especially if you can’t afford it on your budget, but share the cost with friends. It’s an exciting gift for the thrill seeker or future world traveler. They’ll probably take some time off to go explore before they enter the real world, so why not help ease the pain of international flights. If you really want to help them out, give them some of your favorite traveling budget tips.

If all else fails, a nice card with cash will do.

That $100 pen can’t help repay student loan payments, but your money can.

Bill “No Pay” Fay has lived a meager financial existence his entire life. He started writing/bragging about it seven years ago, helping birth Debt.org into existence as the site’s original “Frugal Man.” Prior to that, he spent more than 30 years covering college and professional sports, which are the fantasy worlds of finance. His work has been published by the Associated Press, New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Sports Illustrated and Sporting News, among others. His interest in sports has waned some, but his interest in never reaching for his wallet is as passionate as ever. Bill can be reached at bfay@debt.org.

Claire received Bentley, a golden retriever puppy, as a college graduation gift

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