Graduating from high school or college is a major event in a person's life. It's a milestone often marked by years of hard work, lots of fun, and memories for life. It is also a transition into the world of adulthood and all it entails: self-reliance, maturity, and a life of bills, loan repayments, and taxes to look forward to. Of course, the good stuff comes with it, too: starting a family, owning a home, etc. But the fact remains that it is a seismic shift from a generally care-free life to one filled with obligations, duties, and responsibilities. In other words, growing up. That's why graduation gifts are so important.
Many parents just give their kids money, but some are thoughtful enough to get them that promised car, or a trip to another part of the world, to create valuable memories. But these graduation gifts only go so far, figuratively and literally speaking. We've put together some off-the-beaten-track graduation gift ideas for you to consider as your little one, who is now not so little, flies off into the world to make a mark for themselves.
Money, but Wisely
If you still believe cash is king, you can still be creative about it. Rather than simply giving them cold, hard cash that will most likely be frittered away with nothing to show for it, why not consider an investment in their name?
In the United States, Treasury Notes have terms of between two and ten years. Interest is paid every six months so the money will help them through rough patches without their having to dip into the actual investment. On maturity, they can put the money into something bigger, like a down payment on a home.
FDIC-Insured CDs or Certificates of Deposit are another solid investment vehicle. The returns aren't over the top but the money is safe and the income is steady. Terms vary from six months to six years.
Remember that any investment carries an amount of risk. Do your research and get the right advice from a qualified expert.
Real estate is another great investment vehicle if you're up to spending that much on a graduation gift. It will not only give them rental income in the short term but also capital appreciation in the long run.
One idea is to track foreclosure auctions for a good deal. Of course, there's a great deal of risk because you'll be bidding against seasoned investors rather than other home buyers, and there may be restrictions on viewing the property. But if you do your homework, you can end up getting a really good deal. Make sure you have a good real estate attorney to go over the papers and guide you through the process.
If you don't have an appetite for a high level of risk, you can go the traditional way of looking through listings and engaging the services of a registered real estate agent.
Investing in art teaches your child to appreciate beauty in its grossest form - monetary value. Paintings and other works of art from renowned artists and sculptors can fetch quite a handsome sum after a few years.
However, don't dabble in art investments unless you have expert advice - and even then it's as risky as the stock market. And understand that art is an investment with a long-term horizon - at least 10 years, probably longer.
Did you know that you can also invest in shares of high-end artworks, just like buying shares in a publicly-traded company? It's called Blue Chip Art, and you can own a share of an Andy Warhol or a Claude Monet for an annualized return rate of anywhere between 8% and +20%. Several premium websites allow you to invest smaller sums instead of having to buy the entire painting, which is obviously a lot more expensive.
Gifting a graduate additional funding for higher studies is another excellent long-term idea. Postgraduate and doctoral courses can be expensive at private institutions, but annual course fees at public institutions can be as low as $12,000 to $13,000 a year.
Education is definitely something worth investing in, and doing it at the postgraduate level is merely a continuation of supporting your child's education needs. The best part is that Ph.D. students can often get funding easily depending on their area of study. There are full-ride scholarships, fee waivers, and even assistantships that pay. You'll actually end up paying a lot less than the 'sticker price.' You can invest any savings from scholarships or other sources of funding so they'll have something for a rainy day.
Many countries allow non-residents and even non-citizens to invest in land, property, and other assets from overseas locations. For example, New Zealand allows anyone from another country to invest in business assets, residential land for development, buying forestry, etc. as long as consent is obtained.
Other countries may even allow you to buy a multifamily home, apartment, or other types of residences. There are companies that specialize in such transactions. All you need to do is some leg work on the research side and let the professionals handle the deal for you.
Of course, investing overseas depends on your citizenship, country of residence, residency status, and many other factors, but it's an option that's worth looking into.
Here's a quick summary of the graduation gifts we've suggested thus far:
- Money, but wisely
- Real Estate
- Overseas Investments
The graduation gift ideas given here fall into various price categories. In most cases, you can invest as little as $100 to as much as $1,000,000 or more. The idea of giving a gift that offers long-term benefits is to give your child a chance at a better life. Naturally, your gift can also have nothing to do with money and everything to do with sentiment.
As an example, Friendship Lamps can help you keep in touch
once your child goes off into the world to make their stamp on the world. Another good example would be carving a half-hour out of your weekly schedule to spend time with your faraway offspring over Zoom or Skype. You could also consider planning surprise visits a few times a year, which is especially effective for kids who tend to get homesick every so often.
The gift itself is only a part of the act of graduation gifting. The important part is what the graduation present signifies and how it can benefit them in some way, either in the short term, long term, or periodically.