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Affordable Graduation Gifts

It’s graduation season for high school and college students. You may be wondering how you can congratulate and help them transition into the next phase of life while remaining financially healthy. Luckily, there are plenty of gift ideas for recent graduates that are affordable and thoughtful. If you’re paying off credit card debt, this will still allow you to give a gift!

Our credit counseling advice is to find affordable graduation gifts.

Our credit counseling advice is to find affordable graduation gifts.

Affordable High School & College Graduation Gifts

DIY Graduation Gifts

One affordable option is giving a DIY gift. Whether you make the entire thing yourself or decorate a basic photo frame to your liking, DIY gifts tend to save people money. There are plenty of tutorials online to inspire and advise you.

Consider a framed quote or photo. You can print out what you need at home and use a frame you already have. Another DIY gift is a quilt or blanket. Draw inspiration from their college mascot or t-shirts they have collected.

Regifting Graduation Presents

Check around the house to see if you have something of value to give your grad if you have $0 to spend. Sometimes buying a gift isn’t possible in debt management. Regifting is totally appropriate as long as the graduate doesn’t know it’s regifted. Don’t forget that gift cards can function as a gift too.

Thrifty Ways to Purchase a Grad Gift

If you have a specific item in mind to get your grad, take time to shop around retail stores to find the best deal. Don’t forget to look online! Dollar stores and thrift stores are also great places for gifts. It may not sound appealing at first, but high quality items often end up there just waiting to be snatched at fraction of the cost. Plus, your grad will never know about the sweet deal you got. They will just appreciate the gift and thoughtfulness. Here are a few items to consider purchasing for your grad:

  • Backpack- Travel or Studying
  • Journal
  • Briefcase or Portfolio
  • Books- Cookbook, Financial or Professional Advice
  • Freshman Survival Kit

Gift of Service or An Outing

If you are truly strapped for cash, offer to help your grad using your skills, time and energy. Most likely they will be moving in the near future and could use your help. They may also want a break- take them on hike or go to the movies (your treat of course!).

While it’s nice to receive a gift for graduation, it is not essential. A well written card can mean even more than a gift. Remember to keep your budget and financial goals in mind when choosing a graduation gift.

If you’re struggling to pay off debt, ACCC can help. Schedule a free credit counseling session with us today. 


Michelle is a regular contributor to Talking Cents. She has taken several financial courses on debt management and is ready to circulate what she has learned from them as well as lessons from her own life- family to DIY projects to student loan debt.

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