STARTING OUT


Gifts to Give Grads a Head Start

Erin Burt

Forget the pen set. We have valuable ideas that'll get grads started on the right foot financially.



When I graduated from college, my mother gave me a brand-new sewing machine. It seemed like an odd gift ... considering I didn't sew.

Mom knew this. After all, she'd seen that ill-fated purple pot holder I stitched in my seventh-grade home economics class.

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But her gift was about more than just commemorating the event of receiving my diploma. She wanted to give me something of value -- a gift that would come in handy in the real world. It was super-practical, and not an ounce sentimental. (This shouldn't have been surprising considering she and Dad gave me a pantry full of food for my wedding gift -- a wonderful idea, by the way). I never thought then that I'd say this now: It was the perfect gift.

Don't get me wrong -- I'm still no seamstress. And the sewing machine spends most of its time boxed up in the closet. But the times I have needed it, it has saved me a lot of money and taught me a life skill. (For example, instead of buying an $80 pair of jeans that fit perfectly, I can buy the $25 pair and hem the legs.)

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In the spirit of Mom's gift, I've come up with a dozen smart gifts for grads. These gifts will give them a head start in the real world at a time most young adults are cash-strapped and cash-clueless. Each one lends a financial hand where they need it or teaches a valuable life lesson. Some are immediate "wow!" gifts, while others, like my sewing machine, will reveal their value over time.

SLIDE SHOW: 12 Smart Gifts for Grads




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