Get the Most out of Graduation Gifts in these Lean Times?

Graduating seniors, please accept my most heartfelt condolences. You did not fare well in the economic lottery. But plan ahead and you’ll be better off in the long run. Your graduation money, if you are lucky to get any this year, should probably be spent. . .getting stuff you’ll need for your first apartment. Ditto for any wish lists that your relatives are asking about. If you’ve been living in the dorms for 4 years, this can mean anything from a toaster to a matching placemats. Or, you could take stock of your daily habits and try to find the items that would let you make more at home, ultimately saving some serious $. For instance, you might want to invest in a coffee maker, should you be a fellow caffeine addict. They’re not too expensive and you can find them at Target, Sam’s Club, and at a local department store that’s having a sale.

Along those lines, if you don’t have a working computer, that’s as important as anything. There was an article in the NY Times this week about how libraries are becoming overcrowded as adults working on resumes battle for computer time with kids intent on playing video games. Also, if you own a computer you can avoid buying a TV as so many TV networks have free episodes online. Of course, there’s also Hulu.

Another suggestion would be an air conditioner. I know, not an exciting purchase, but they cost about $100+ and putting one of those on your wish list now pays off when the hot waves of summer hit town. An even less romantic suggestion would be dishes/flatware. You don’t have to spend too much, but it’s something you probably don’t have that you’ll need to live on your own.

Notice I haven’t suggested furniture . . .my reasoning is twofold. Firstly, I am a total Craigslist convert. Secondly, I’m guessing someone in your family has some nice, unwanted basement furniture. Especially if your relatives are feeling strapped for cash, older furniture would make an excellent gift and would let them feel good that they’d still be able to get you a nice ‘gift’, but it wouldn’t cost them. Just a thought.

Even if you still have your heart set on that backpacking trip to Europe (although it looks like Nate and Vanessa are not making it this time!,) you’ll need all this stuff when you come back.

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Author My First Apartment

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I've lived in apartments in 6 cities (including 2 foreign countries). Does that make me an expert? As of now, my ceiling isn't leaking and I don't have rodents (knock on wood) -- so I'm going to say yes . . . but ask me again tomorrow:) These days, I'm enjoying life Chicago style, but my years in Brooklyn are never far from my mind. P.S. By day I work at, but these opinions are totally, 100% my own.

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