It’s April. Here in DC Cherry Blossom  season has come and gone and the weather is getting warmer every day. We grownups (at 25  I still have a hard time thinking of myself that way!) are in the midst of putting away winter clothes and making summer plans. But students everywhere are gearing up for the last few weeks of classes – and for those lucky enough to be just weeks away from graduation, the big day  cannot come fast enough.
As a former graduate myself and the proud girlfriend of one soon-to-be-former law student, I know that this is an exciting time for those finishing high school, college  or professional school. I also know that no matter what it is that you are finishing, the build-up to graduation can be an expensive time…and it doesn’t necessarily get any easier to handle your money after graduation ! Below I’ve listed some of my advice for celebrating in style…without breaking the bank!
If you’re the graduate
- Don’t rack up debt. If you have fees associated with graduation events, ask your parents (or family members if you’re close) if you could maybe have an advance on graduation presents.
- Lots of events? Shop from your closet. I won’t deny you the “right” to buy a new dress or suit for the big day itself. But if you have other events leading up to graduation, and parties after, see if you can get by with outfits from last summer.
- Speaking of events…take advantage of as many free ones as possible. If your school has events that require you to pay, think carefully about which ones actually matter to you before committing to (and paying for) all of them.
- And if you want to say goodbye to your friends in ways that don’t involve free school-wide events, think of creative ways to enjoy each other’s company inexpensively. A pool party, potluck, board game night, margarita night or even a look-at-old-facebook-photos night are all good ways to celebrate your accomplishments and make more memories.
- Want to acknowledge friends’ accomplishments? Think of fun and personalized gifts like photo tiles  instead of expensive gifts .
- Still job searching , or spending some time income-less before starting another degree program or your job? Cut down expenses by considering moving back in with mom and dad, or taking on an extra roommate. Remember that nobody is above working a summer job  to earn a few extra bucks.
- …And finally, when you DO start your job, don’t fall prey to the mistakes of new earners !
If you’re a proud supporter
- Plan travel as far ahead of time as possible. Keep in mind our tips for traveling on the cheap .
- If you have a little cash to spare, consider giving your graduate their gift in advance. You might also ask your graduate if he or she might need a bridge loan to help set up their own place  – you can charge minimal interest to keep it all business. You can earn a return on your money while saving them from the high interest rates of credit card debt or a bank loan.
- If you want to celebrate your graduate by throwing a party, consider joining forces with the parents/family members of other graduates. If your guest lists would overlap anyway you can save money on each guest by splitting the cost of food and drinks.
If you’re graduating…congratulations! If you know someone who is, give them a gift ahead of time by sharing this with them!
More on Graduation
- 29 Financial Tips for New Grads 
- Investment Advice for New College Graduates 
- 10 Financial Tips for New Grads 
- 6 Mistakes of New Earners and How to Fix Them 
- Tips For Parents and College Grads Moving Home After College 
- 51 Finance Tips for New Graduates 
- 6 Job Search Tips for New College Grads 
- Should I Go To Grad School?