The Best Gift Card For Grads: A Financial Planner's Business Card

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A diploma, and student debt are two things most college students can expect to walk away with on graduation day.

A diploma might help students increase their earning potential. But that debt can seriously hamper their credit and therefore decrease their purchasing and saving potential. That is why, instead of a gift card, MainStreet suggests you consider passing along the business card of a financial planner instead. A session with a financial professional can help guide the former student through their first budget, and unlike from a parent, the advice given is likely to be listened to.

Let’s say the former pupil is offered a job at investment firm Goldman Sachs (GS) making $70,000. A young graduate might conjure up numerous ways to spend $70,000, not fully understanding that the amount is not their take home pay. If you’re planning to reside in Atlanta, Georgia after college, where state income taxes is about 6% of your income, then $4,200 will go to the state of Georgia. That doesn’t sound like too much money. But, before you go off on that shopping trip, keep in mind more than $17,000 may go to the federal government. That means your take home pay is now around $50,000.

Who knew Uncle Sam was so needy? Well, Mom may have known, because mothers always know. Again, that’s why a financial planner is helpful because it adds someone that is objective to the mix.

Where can you find a financial planner? Organizations such as the Financial Planning Association, and Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards are a good place to start. With fees of about $100-$200 an hour, a planner costs you much less than a Mercedes-Benz. It’s your decision how many hours you want to get the new grad.

Before you pick up the phone to book your sessions, determine what you want your new graduate to learn. “Look for someone that is going to educate [your child], says Barbara Shapiro, a Vice President of HMS Financial Group. You need “someone who is willing to sit down and teach a child how money works.” That includes discussions of what a 401(k) is, in addition to living expenses and things like how much to spend on entertainment.

One of the important lessons is compounding interest, says Shapiro. “Compounding is really the eighth wonder of the world,” says Shapiro. Compounding means making money on your money through savings, which is positive. And, with a “credit card that you’re paying 20% on, that’s negative compounding and you’re never going to get ahead,” says Shapiro. “If a child knows what compounding negatively and positively, then they have learned something invaluable.”

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