Smart Ways to Use Your Graduation Gift Money

A graduation cap surrounded by coins

Graduating from college is an accomplishment that very few get to experience. Receiving this distinct honor is a moment that is celebrated with those closest to you. While sharing this moment with family and friends is great, a huge bonus is the monetary gifts you’ll receive for such an achievement. In preparation for the big day, here are some great ideas for spending this money wisely.

Make Payments on Student Loans

Student loans are one of the biggest headaches most college graduates face. Although finishing college is an exciting moment, the uncertainty that follows can be a downer. For some, it can take months of job hunting and interviews with numerous employers before the choice is made.

To alleviate some of the stress that comes with searching for a new job, setting aside your graduation money to cover the payments for the time being can make things easier. This way, you can focus more of your time on searching for the right employer that is ready to make you a part of their team.

If you were able to score a job right out of college, then congratulations. You have one less obstacle to worry about. Using your graduation money to make early payments on your loans can still benefit you. Making an additional payment can help reduce the overall interest you end up paying.

Pay Off Extra Debt

You aren’t a college student if you don’t have some sort of debt lingering somewhere. As a student roaming campus throughout your college career, you’ve either used your credit cards to make smart purchases like textbooks or a laptop... or you spent most of your credit limit on Starbucks runs before class. Whatever those purchases may have been, it's time to start making those credit card payments. Credit cards are known for having high interest rates, so the faster you pay off your remaining balance, the less you pay in the end. Paying off your credit card debt is one of the most important financial responsibilities that everyone looks to accomplish, so the faster the better. And making on-time payments is important to build excellent credit history.

Set Aside for Savings

It’s hard to set money aside when there are a million and one things you want to buy. Putting money aside either for savings or as an emergency fund is one of the first steps toward financial stability. You can use this money as an initiative toward a personal goal. Whether you’re working toward moving out of your parent's home or planning to go to grad school, these savings can be money that is used for supplementing these wants.

We also cannot predict the future. There are several financial setbacks like an unexpected trip to the ER or being laid off from your job that will make it hard to pay your bills. Having this safety cushion can make these falls a lot softer and easier to live through.

Purchase Interview Clothing

First impressions are always key. If you want to avoid being cast aside to the pile of “not fit for our company,” then you must make sure you look like you’re prepared to begin the job that same day. Although it is very unlikely that that is the case, being well-dressed for these interviews shows the interviewer that you are serious about the opportunity. Depending on the jobs that you’re applying for, for most, it is code that you show up in formal business attire. Besides, nothing beats the feeling of confidence that you get when you know that you look good, which is just what you need to perfect your responses in the interview.

Treat Yourself

Yes, being financially stable and making sure all your priorities are met is what brings peace to everyone's life. Although this is a great achievement, nothing tops doing what you chose to do with your money. Remember, you are the one who spent countless hours, days, and years working toward this degree, so if you feel like you need to take a vacation before things start to get real, do it. If there is a pair of shoes that you have been eyeing for a while, buy them. Spending money on the things that you like is important for taking care of yourself. Don’t feel guilty about it, you deserve it. Just make sure you won’t be homeless by the time you come back from that trip.

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The content provided in this publication is for informational purposes only. Nothing stated is to be construed as financial or legal advice. Some products not offered by PSECU. PSECU does not endorse any third parties, including, but not limited to, referenced individuals, companies, organizations, products, blogs, or websites. PSECU does not warrant any advice provided by third parties. PSECU does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information provided by third parties. PSECU recommends that you seek the advice of a qualified financial, tax, legal, or other professional if you have questions.