Give Your Grad the Gift of Financial Education

Each year over a million college students strut across the stage – donning their cap and gown, diploma and more often than not student loan debt averaging $27,253. But according to a study by Arkansas State University, they often lack one skill – financial education.

With graduation season upon us, while you may be thinking of gifting the grad in your life with dinners and furniture and college rings, Andrea Woroch, a consumer and money-saving expert thinks the best gift you can give is one that will help boost the grad’s financial smarts for succeeding in the real world.

Her suggestion comes on the heels of  a study by Arkansas State University that  found, “Over one-third of students surveyed admitted to having no idea how much credit card or student loan debt they owed and overestimated future earnings by more than 20 percent  –  $14,768.12 more than the average salaries for graduates at their respective universities.”

There is no doubt that stepping into the real world can be nerve racking and stepping out with no budgeting skills or money smarts can make it especially daunting.  As Woroch puts it “entering the real world upon graduation is going to be a real wake-up call!” and so she offers these 7 gift ideas to help boost a grad’s financial smarts for succeeding in the real world.

1. A Financial Planning Session: A certified financial advisor can help the grad in your life craft a budget and a financial plan to manage their money effectively. They can also help them in managing their student loans, provide tips for paying off debt faster and stress the importance of saving for retirement early and the overall improvement of their financial outlook.

2. Personal Finance Books: Woroch says a book that offers personal finance advice is invaluable to a generation laden with debt. She thinks they’re great especially because they are usually authored by writers who have gone through the experience. She suggests: Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance In Your Twenties and Thirties by Beth Kobliner; The Broke and Beautiful Life by Stefanie O’Connell; or Complete Guide to Personal Finance: For Teenagers for high school grads heading off to college.

MissMoneyBee adds:  PowerUp: Taking Charge of your Financial Destiny by Howard Dvorkin, CPA and Credit Hell: How to Dig Out of Debt also by Howard Dvorkin.

3. Career Coaching: College grads usually struggle to find employment and often settle for jobs that are not worth their college degree. Woroch says, “A career counselor will guide a college grad through the job search process while identifying career options based on individual passions, talents and training.”  The average fee for a job coach is around $50 per hour. Woroch says check the list of Top 25 Certified Job Search Coaches on LinkedIn for help finding one for your grad. They can also check the Third Fifth Bank Brand of You Campaign website for free resume writing and headshot tips.

MissMoneyBee also encourages students to use the career department at their school for free resume writing tips, mock interview sessions and information on career fairs and networking.

4. Roth IRA: This is an individual retirement account that allows individuals to save after-tax income up to a specified amount each year. Whatever the individual earns or withdraws after 59½ is not taxed and can amount to enormous savings overtime. Woroch says, “Opening a Roth IRA will jump-start the grads future planning while opening their eyes to the power of compound interest.”  She adds they can withdraw contributions tax and penalty-free at any age so it could even serve as a down-payment for a house if necessary.

5. Budgeting Course: A budget and a financial plan is paramount to managing money and keeping overspending at bay. And Woroch says, “One of the biggest hurdles any college grad will face upon entering the “real world” is managing living expenses with social activities and savings.”  She suggests using this 9-day budgeting course from the website YouNeedABudget.

You can also direct your grad to Consolidated Credit’s extensive section on Budgeting.

6. Subscriptions: “A digital or hard copy subscription to The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Money Magazine or Kiplinger’s Personal Finance ensures a well-rounded education on current events and personal finance,” Woroch asserts. “Alternatively, offering a trade magazine within the graduate’s area of study or interest is another smart option.”

7. Online Brokerage Account: “Start your college grad off with a few stocks that he or she can manage on eTrade or Sharebuilder,” she says. “You can even find coupon codes online at sites like to save on startup fees for a new account.”

Whatever you decide Miss Money Bee wishes your Grads the best of luck in all their future endeavors! For additional resources check out or direct your grads to Consolidated Credit’s Debt Learning Center for free resources – from self-help booklets to calculators to interactive finance courses – to help them manage their money and improve their financial destiny. Dial 1-800-320-9929 anytime to speak with a certified credit counselor for help or request help online.