Class of 2018, congrats on graduating college. It doesn’t matter if you’re a tradition student who put in four years or if you’re a transfer who dropped out and returned to finish your degree. You did and it is time to celebrate. Celebrations means gifts and sometimes money. If you find yourself coming into money from loved ones yet unsure how you want to spend it, I’ve got a few paths you can follow. There are multiple ways to spend your graduation money, you only have to find the right one for you
Book a Trip
This is likely the most cliche option but you only graduate once…for most people. So why not make the most of it and travel. If you can’t fit a trip abroad into your budget, think of somewhere domestic that you’d like to visit. If somewhere international is on your list, consider a country that will let you stretch your dollars. If you happen to have credit points waiting to be used, now might be the time to cash those babies in. If you have no clue about using credit cards and points to fund your trips aka travel hacking, Luxe of The Luxe Strategist some awesome starter tips.
Open a Retirement Fund/Invest
Not the most exciting option but it is one your future self will thank you for. If you worked at all during the school year and hadn’t considered saving your retirement, you might want to open a Roth IRA. This lets you invest your post-tax earnings and offers the ability to remove all contributions sans-penalty. If you aren’t ready for that level of commitment, you can try an investing app like Acorns or Stash.* Both options allow your gift money to work for you can gain interest.
*signing up with my Acorns or Stash link,gifts you $5 for free
Nest Egg for Your Big Move
If you’re moving to a new city after graduation like my fellow Tar Heel Gabby of The Swirl Blog, you might many expenses. Apartment application fees, security deposit, getting utilities turned on, buying furniture, and a slew of other hidden costs no one considers when they first think of moving. According to the American Moving & Storage Association, the average move between states costs $5,630. Gaining $25 here and $100 there from family and friends will definitely pay off when you get to having to shell out money after you relocate.
Pay Off Your Debt
This option is not as exciting as some of the others, but it is part of adulting. If you find yourself with student loans or credit card debt post-graduation, some of the gift money you’re receiving can go towards that. If you have private or unsubsidized loans, you probably are already paying on them but this is a good way to stay on top of those as you job hunt or take a break between undergrad and first job/graduate school. If you have subsidized loans that have been in deferment, go ahead and pay down that balance for the interest kicks in. It’ll speed up your repayment process by not incurring as much interest once you come out of deferment.
Upgrade Your Wardrobe
If you went to a college similar to mine, it wasn’t uncommon to see people in attending class in oversized sorority shirts and leggings. Comfort was the name of the game. Unfortunately, those days are behind us and our social contract says we have dress in a business casual manner. This means those shirts and leggings are meant for the weekends and lounging around the house.
That being said, you might be trying it figure out how to dress or fumbling to build a professional wardrobe. I’m not going to tell you to buy all new pieces and waste a grand on clothes, a few pair of slacks, dresses, and blouses never hurt anyone. If your weight is fluctuating or you haven’t identified your personal style yet thrift stores or chains like Old Navy are great places to find affordable pieces that will fulfill the wardrobe social contract most of us didn’t sign up for, but still have to live by. This way your graduation money can help fund your post-grad life and you might even have a little fun doing so.
If none of the other options appeal to you, you can always treat yourself. It can be a spa day, luxury skincare you’ve been lusting after, or a piece of tech that has recently come out. I used some of my grad money to buy a camera lens that had been on my wishlist for quite some time and I have no regrets about it. Sure I could’ve put it towards my Acorns or Stash, but it was nice not to think about delayed gratification. For those who juggled parenthood, fulltime jobs, financial insecurity or health issues with their class load it can be hard to shift your mindset to do something for yourself. I’m here to tell you this is your moment. I worked my butt off in college and this was my reward.
No matter how you choose to spend your money, I say do what brings you happiness. This can be a time filled with relief and uncertainty and insecurity. As you find yourself working through does emotions, find a healthy way to cherish this once in a lifetime moment and do something selfless to celebrate. Give yourself a pat on the back and be ready for the next chapter in your life.
If you received graduation money, what did you do with you? If you haven’t spent it yet, do you plan to follow any of these suggestions? Drop me a line below.