Editor’s note: For daily tips on saving money, check out the Centsible Saver blog on newsobserver.com. Amy Dunn writes every day about coupons, saving money and frugal living. Below is a recent excerpt from her blog.
An estimated 20,000 high school seniors will graduate in the Triangle this month, which means a lot of folks are on the hunt for the perfect graduation gift.
By perfect, I mean:
A) Something that an 18-year-old will like and appreciate (no small feat).
B) It can be given to multiple graduates, which is a likely scenario if you have a teenager in your house.
C) It won’t cause this month’s electric bill to be late.
Forget the advice books, which they won’t read, and the college T-shirts, which they probably already have in triplicate.
Here are a few suggestions for gifts they really want or need and you can likely afford, no matter how many grads are on your list:
1. Cash is king. It might be impersonal, but 18-year-olds love to get it. The perfect amount for a member of the class of 2014? $20.14. Write a check or put a $20 bill, a dime and four pennies in an envelope. You’ll get extra props for creativity.
2. A laundry basket or duffel bag paired with a jug of laundry detergent. It’s practical and will be well-used by graduates headed to a dorm or an apartment. Buy these at any big-box store or, if you’re handy, sew your own duffel bag. My sons both received handmade duffel bags sewn with fabric in the school colors of their universities. Six years later, my younger son is still using his.
3. A plastic shower tote filled with toiletries. Not only will you be saving the graduates and their parents money, you’ll be giving them a leg up on the organizational skills needed to coexist in a postage-stamp space and a shared bathroom.
I’ve given this gift to many grads over the years, filling it with body wash, a razor, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, a toothbrush, toothpaste, over-the-counter pain medicine, and other health and beauty items. Pay full price, and this gift could easily top $50, but shop the sales and use coupons, and you can easily fill a plastic tote for under $10 – and that includes the price of the tote. (Follow my Sunday drugstore deals posts at http://newsobserver.com/CentsibleSaver to get health and beauty products for pennies on the dollar.)
4. A first-aid kit stocked with all the items a teenager won’t even think about needing until mom and dad aren’t there to provide them free of charge. Band-Aids, over-the-counter allergy and pain medicines, cough medicine, tweezers, antibiotic ointment, hand sanitizer, a flashlight and sunscreen are all potential items to include.
5. A gift card to the campus bookstore where the teen will be attending school in the fall. Check university websites for information. These can be ordered online, most often with free shipping.
6. Make gift certificates for survival boxes of goodies to be sent during the fall semester. Think midterms and finals. Include self-addressed stamped envelopes so the graduates can “redeem” their care packages when they most need them. Home-baked oatmeal or chocolate chip cookies ship well. Or send their favorite packaged candy and snacks. Pick up medium-size Priority Mail Flat Rate boxes free at the post office so you’re ready. Postage on this size box is $12.35, making this gift both affordable and from the heart.
Dunn: 919-829-4522 or email@example.com; Twitter: @amygdunn