A ticket to paradise may be just what your new college graduate has in mind before starting the 9-to-5 grind. But youre thinking of something more affordable and a wee-bit more practical.
By STEVE ROSEN
The Kansas City Star
I have just what youre looking for gifts that could help your grad get a jump-start on life after commencement day.
• Financial help. Book an appointment for your son or daughter with a financial planner. Use an hour or two to go over the new employers 401(k), health insurance and other benefit plans, map out student loan repayment options, review renter and auto insurance policies, and set up a monthly spending strategy that includes socking away a few bucks every paycheck into an investment account.
I also suggest your college grad ask the planner about how to get off to a good start with credit cards and building a sound credit history.
If you need to find a planner, go to the Financial Planning Association (fpanet.org) or the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors ( napfa.org). Expect to pay $100 or more for a one-hour visit.
• Reading material. A few primers might be just the thing to fill in the gray areas if your twenty-something never took an economics or finance course.
There are many good titles to choose from, but a few of my favorites: The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness, by Dave Ramsey; The Wall Street Journals Guide to Starting Your Financial Life, by Karen Blumenthal; and Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance in Your Twenties and Thirties, by Beth Kobliner.
One other favorite: The Last Lecture, by Randall Pausch. Dying of pancreatic cancer, the author shares advice on how to live life to its fullest.
Or give a subscription to Consumer Reports magazine or Kiplingers personal finance magazine.
• Investment starters. Give a few shares of stock. Its actually quiet easy through programs such as Capital One ShareBuilder. The online investing site offers easy-to-set up, low-cost investment accounts that offer a $6.95 flat base trading rate regardless of the size of the account. Place a trade by February 2014, and youll get a $50 account bonus.
• Fitness funds. Purchase a gym membership. Its a good way for young workers who no longer have ready, convenient access to the campus recreation center to release stress from the workday. The money peg: Fit, healthy workers are less likely to spend chunks of their paycheck on doctor appointments and prescriptions. Gym membership prices also tend to fall in the summer.
Another approach: Some gear for working out from the friendly confines of an apartment living room.
• Gas gift cards. If your grad is living closer to minimum wage, having a $50 or $100 gift card from a gasoline company should provide some cushion. And if public transportation is an option, consider a bus, train or streetcar pass.
• Closet upgrades. Dress-for-successful interview attire could make a difference if your grad is looking for a job.
To reach Steve Rosen, call 816-234-4879 or send email to email@example.com.