By Wendy Mihm | Monday May 23, 2011
Graduation season is fast approaching – time to plan celebrations and find some unique grad gifts for your favorite graduate!
As usual, at FinancialRx our goal is to help you fulfill these tasks in meaningful and fun ways, without crushing your budget.
With that goal in mind, let’s count down our FinancialRx Top 5 Unique Grad Gift Ideas, with our Top Pick saved for last. We’ll tell you why it’s our top pick in a moment – stay tuned…
#5. Mini fridge and/or a small, basic dish and flatware set
This is specifically for high school grads on their way to a college dorm. It doesn’t seem glamorous, but these items will be extremely useful and appreciated once your grad arrives on campus in the fall.
#4. A one-year gym membership
This is for the college grad or the high school grad who is not college-bound, as college students generally have access to free gym facilities on campus. This will set new graduates up for a healthy habit that they can continue after your year-long gift membership expires, provided you get the membership at an inexpensive place like a YMCA or community center near where they live.
#3. A professional photo shoot.
Your grad may love to have some beautiful, professional photos taken alone, with family, or with his or her best friend(s) at the beach, in the yard, at their school, at a sports facility or someplace that holds special meaning to them. If it’s done tastefully, this is a gift they could treasure forever.
Alternatively, if you’re throwing a party for your grad, as a unique grad gift, you could hire a photographer to shoot for an hour or so at the party and capture these precious memories as gorgeous, professional keepsake photos.
#2. A set of “survival” books
These could include books that would help them either in college, such as “The Real Freshman Handbook” or, if they’re headed off to the “real world,” titles such as “Show Me How: 500 Things You Should Know.” Be sure to include both real words of wisdom, as well as a good dose of humor.
#1. *** FinancialRx Top Pick *** A year’s worth of health insurance. This is by far our top recommendation in the category of unique grad gifts, for two important reasons.
First, health insurance protects the recent grad from catastrophic financial loss in the event that he or she suffers from an accident or serious illness. Did you know that the average cost of one night in a hospital is over $9,000? One night. If your grad is not insured, and he or she ends up in the hospital, it could be financially devastating.
What a wonderful gift of love to protect your grad from such a possibility!
Second, it teaches your grad that health insurance is a priority, and sets up the opportunity to have a conversation about the topic. This, of course, means that you should have this conversation, which you can do by reading this short paragraph together: “Why Should I Bother to Buy Health Insurance Anyway—Isn’t It Expensive?” and then talking about it.
Right afterward, you can sign them up for Step 2 of our FinancialRx Free Weekly Email Series, in which we cover the importance of health insurance. You’ll be doing your graduate a big favor, because they will also learn insider strategies for how to make their dollars go farther in other budget biggies like food, housing and car expenses.
But hold on for just one second! Why would I buy health insurance for my graduate now?! Didn’t health care reform just allow adult children to stay on their parents’ plans up to the age of 26?
Yes, it did.
However, health insurance for recent grads often ends up being more expensive when they stay under their parents’ plans.
Said another way, it will often cost less to buy an individual plan for a recent grad than it will to pay the additional cost for that grad’s portion under the parent’s plan.
If your graduate is healthy, it often makes sense for him or her to get his or her own plan now, for two reasons.
1) If a young person is healthy, the premium on an individual plan is typically relatively low. And there is a good chance that it will be lower than the extra payment that you’re making to keep your recent grad on your current health insurance plan.
2) If he or she gets into an accident or gets sick, this will be considered a “pre-existing condition.” Once he or she has a pre-existing condition, most other plans will reject your grad after (s)he turns 26, which is the time when he or she will be unceremoniously dropped from your plan.
So if your grad is healthy, the time to sign him or her up for their own individual plan may be now.
That’s why a year’s worth of health insurance is the FinancialRx top pick for unique grad gifts.
Is it sexy? No. Is it an iPad? Nope.
But it just could keep your favorite grad safe, and teach them an important lesson about how to live a healthy, happy financial life.
To get you moving, here’s a site built specifically for recent grads to find health insurance plans designed specifically for them. It’s called HealthyGrads.com. Disclaimer: I know the owners personally, and they are real, live humans who provide top-notch customer service in case you need help navigating the health care maze to select an appropriate plan.
Congratulations to you and your new grad!