5 Steps to Take When Applying for a Business Loan

If your business can use a shot of cash to help it grow, fund a move or to get through its slowest season, a business loan can be the right answer. 

Here’s what you need to know about applying for a business loan.

  1. Check your credit

Before you apply, check your personal and business credit health. 

Personal credit scores range from 300-850. A score in a range of 580-669 is fair, 670-739 is good, 740-799 is very good and 800-850 is exceptional. In general, the higher your score, the easier it will be for you to qualify for a loan and the lower the interest rate you’ll have on your loan when approved.

Business credit scores are measured differently. Experian uses Intelliscore Plus as its credit scoring model, with scores ranging from 1 to 100. Equifax assigns each business a payment index score, which ranges from 0 to 100; a credit risk score ranging from 100 to 992 and a business failure score ranging from 1,000 to 1,880. The D&B score, assigned by the Dun & Bradstreet Corporation, ranges from 0 to 100. Finally, the FICO Small Business Scoring Service score ranges from 0 to 300. 

If your personal and/or business credit scores are low, work on improving your credit before applying for a loan. Be timely or early with your bill payments, work on getting rid of debt and check your monthly credit statements for any erroneous charges.

  1. Update your business plan

Most lenders will ask to see a current business plan before approving a loan. It’s a good idea to review and update yours so it’s ready to show a potential lender. The plan should include information about the loan, such as how the company plans to use the funds. 

Be sure to have a comprehensive business plan to show a prospective lender. The plan should include details about how the company intends to use the funds, the anticipated increase in revenue and plans for repaying the loan. 

3. Organize your personal and business documents

You’ll need the following documents and identifying paperwork when applying for a business loan:

  • Photo ID
  • Accurate monthly financial statements from the past two years
  • Business license
  • Any commercial leases
  • Business insurance plans
  • Payroll records
  • Incorporation documents
  • Current financial obligations
  • 3 months of bank statements
  • Personal and business tax returns
  • Collateral

4. Research potential lenders

A business loan is a big deal, and it’s best not to jump into the decision too quickly. Take the time to research potential lenders carefully, being sure to check each lender’s eligibility criteria, the average size of the loans they offer, their current interest rate average and more. 

Consider applying for a business loan through a credit union. A credit union will offer you personalized service, looser qualifying criteria and a competitive interest rate. [Call, click, or stop by Advantage One Credit Union today to discuss your options.] 

5. Submit your application

You’re ready to apply for a loan! With luck, you’ll soon have the funds you need to take your business to the next level. 

Your Turn: What are your best tips for taking out a business loan? Tell us about it in the comments. 

What to Buy and What to Skip in August

Independence Day sales are long gone and Labor Day is a month away, but you can still pick up great bargains in August. Here’s what to buy and what to skip this month. 

Buy: Back-to-school supplies

Back-to-school season is still going strong. Cash in on great deals before the season draws to a close with the start of the school year at the end of the month. Look for weekly deals on all kinds of school and office supplies at big-box stores, pharmacies and e-tailers alike. Think beyond school – you can stock up on a year’s worth of pens and paper for your home printer at a bargain price this August by shopping back-to-school sales. Don’t forget to take advantage of any sales tax holidays your state may offer this month as well.

Skip: iPhones

Apple hasn’t officially confirmed it as of this writing, but word on the street is that the iPhone 14 will drop in late 2022. If you’re looking to replace your phone with a newer model, you’re best off waiting a bit before you make your purchase. When the brand-new models hit the market, retailers and private sellers will be desperate to get rid of their older phones to make room for new inventory. You’ll see prices slashed on any phones that aren’t the newest model being sold directly from Apple, all the way down to private sellers. 

Buy: Summer apparel

Expect to find prices on hot-weather wear dropping lower as summer slowly fades into autumn. Pick up a few new stunners to add to your wardrobe this season, or load up on timeless classics you can wear next year. 

Buy: AC units

In some parts of the country, temperatures hit their annual high in August. But even as temps peak, retailers know that most shoppers already purchased their AC units for the season. If your AC needs replacing, take advantage of discounted prices to snag a great deal on a brand-new unit.

Skip: Major household appliances and other items

Need a new fridge or another major household appliance? Hold off a bit until Labor Day, when you can find prices on brand-name appliances slashed by as much as 30%. Similarly, if you’re shopping for new mattresses, you’re best off waiting until Labor Day sales for more savings. This year, Labor Day is on Sept. 5, but sales can start up to a full week before the actual date. Check the sites of your favorite retailers a few weeks before Labor Day so you have time to comparison-shop and snag the best deals. 

Buy: Wedding decor, gifts and wear

According to wedding magazine The Knot, the months of June, September and October are the most popular for weddings. With August right in the middle of these months, but not popular for actual weddings, it can be the perfect time to pick up discounted wedding decor, gifts and even wedding wear. 

Skip: Amazon devices

Amazon just hosted its Prime Day sale, so don’t expect to find any great prices on Amazon devices this month. Wait for Black Friday to shop for a new Kindle, Echo device and more. 

Buy: Storage supplies

It’s nearly time to head (back) to college, and retailers know this well. You can find deals on all kinds of storage supplies this month, such as shelving units, large containers, decorative bins and more. Shop stores like Office Depot, Target and Walmart, or check out online sources, like Overstock and Wayfair, for similar offers. 

The summer is dying down, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a blazing hot deal in August! Use the tips outlined here to know what to buy and what to skip this month. Happy shopping!

Your Turn: Have you picked up any great bargains in August? Tell us about them in the comments. 

8 Ways to Spot a Survey Scam

Survey scams are almost as old as the internet. They’re so prevalent, you can hardly spend an hour online without running into an ad for a “super quick” survey promising a reward for just a few minutes of your time. 

What actually happens, though, is that the scammer walks away with a free survey, or worse, your information and/or your money. The alert consumer can spot a survey scam easily, but fraudsters are unfortunately becoming more sophisticated at luring innocent victims into their schemes. 

Don’t get caught! Here are eight ways to spot a survey scam:

  1. You’re asked to pay to participate in a survey

Authentic survey companies need you – you don’t need them. There’s absolutely no reason to pay to take a survey of any kind. If you’re targeted by an ad asking you to take a survey and to pay for the privilege of doing so, don’t respond. 

  1. You’re asked to share sensitive information before you can take the survey

They’d really appreciate it if you could take this quick survey for them. They just need some information from you first, like your Social Security number, date of birth and maybe even your checking account number. If a survey company asks for anything more than basic information from you, sign out as quickly as you can. 

  1. They advertise on Craigslist and similar sites asking for your email address

“Survey companies” that advertise on sites like Craigslist asking you to share your email address are usually fronts for scam rings. They use the bogus surveys as bait so you will share your email address. Once they have this information, they’ll use it to spam you with scam emails, phishing schemes, malware or worse. Alternatively, they’ll sell your email address to another scam ring to be used for similar purposes. 

  1. They offer too much money

If a survey is offering you $100 for a 20-question survey that shouldn’t take you more than five minutes to complete, you can be sure you’re looking at a scam. No legitimate survey company is that desperate. The pay for authentic survey-taking is generally on a much more modest scale. 

  1. You’re directed to download attachments 

Any time an unknown contact asks you to download attachments to your device, be super-suspicious. More often than not, these are scams and the attachments are loaded with malware. Don’t respond to the offer, and if it was made via email, be sure to report the email address as spam. 

  1. They advertise aggressively

If the same solicitation for survey participation keeps popping up across your screen, you may be looking at a scam. Scammers tend to flood their targets with ads in the hopes that one of them will actually work. Similarly, if the survey offer is full of unbelievable testimonials of past

participants, you’re likely looking at a scam. Legitimate survey companies don’t need to try so desperately hard to get people to take their surveys. 

  1. They give you an hour to pre-qualify for the survey

Often, a survey company will want you to answer a few pre-qualifying questions to see if you fit their desired demographic. Scammers exploit the prequalification by having the target answer dozens of questions and then informing them they’ve run out of time and cannot participate in the actual survey. This is false, of course, and the questions the scammer just answered actually were the survey questions, only now they won’t be getting paid for it. Check to see if a survey has a time limit on the prequalification before you start answering questions. 

  1. They require an outrageous minimum before payment

Most legitimate survey companies require the survey taker to complete a minimum number of surveys before the first payment. However, scammers require their targets to take an unrealistic number of surveys before they receive their first paycheck. Often, the victim will just quit before they qualify for a payment and the scammers now have these completed surveys without paying anything for them. 

Survey-taking can be a great way to earn some pocket money, but survey scams are rampant. Follow these tips to stay safe!

Your Turn: Have you been targeted by a survey scam? Share your experience in the comments. 

Ten Signs it’s Time to Leave a Job

Making it work at work isn’t always easy, but sometimes the environment, working conditions, lack of growth and other factors can mean it’s time to call it quits. Here are 10 signs it’s time to leave a job: 

  1.  You aren’t challenged.

If you feel like your skills and strengths aren’t being used on the job, you are likely limiting your growth potential. This is especially true if you’ve been at the position for a while and have been denied opportunities to really use your skills. 

  1. You aren’t passionate about your work.

If you took a job that seemed to speak to your passions, but you are growing increasingly disinterested in your work, you may want to look for another job. 

  1. The work environment is unpleasant.

You may love the actual work you do at your job, but if the environment is unpleasant, 

or worse, toxic, it can be time to hand in your resignation. This includes colleagues who don’t get along, an overly critical or controlling boss or supervisor, an atmosphere of dishonesty and 

distrust, and the like. 

  1. You’ve maxed out your growth at this company.

If you know you’ve hit your ceiling and there’s no or limited room for growth at this firm, consider moving on to new ventures

  1. Your values are being compromised.

Compromising your values on a regular basis can leave you feeling miserable. If you’re being forced into this position in the workplace, it may be time to leave your job. 

  1. The company’s future is unstable.

If the ship is sinking, get off while you can. You can review the company’s annual financial reports for insight into its stability and future. 

  1. You aren’t earning your true worth.

If you know you aren’t being adequately compensated at your current job, consider seeking a new one elsewhere. You can look up average salaries for similar positions on sites, like Glassdoor, to determine if you are earning your true worth. 

  1. You dread returning to work after a break.

It’s normal to look forward to the weekends and to count down until your next vacation, but if you feel physically ill at the thought of returning to work after the weekend or break, or work stress keeps you up at night, it can be a sign that it’s time to leave your job. 

  1. Your job can no longer provide you with the work-life balance you need.

Whether it’s due to changing circumstances in your personal life or to an increase in hours at your position, your job requirements may no longer be in sync with your home life. If this is the case, it may be worthwhile to seek new employment. 

  1. There are better opportunities available elsewhere.

If you know that another company has job openings that may be better than what you have currently, it can be a good time to switch jobs. When considering new options, don’t forget to look at the entire package, including room for growth, benefits the job offers, paid time off and the general schedule and more, in addition to the actual salary.

Your Turn: How do you know when it’s time to leave a job? Share your own tip with us in the comments. 

The Power of One More: The Ultimate Guide to Happiness and Success

Title: The Power of One More: The Ultimate Guide to Happiness and Success 

Author: Ed Mylett

Hardcover: 272 pages

Publisher: Wiley

Publishing date: June 1, 2022

Who is this book for? 

  • Anyone looking for a way to live a happier life, enjoy better relationships and grow their wealth. 

What’s inside this book?

  • A culmination of revolutionary ideas Ed has built over the course of 30+ years as a successful entrepreneur, performance coach, bestselling author, podcaster and inspirational speaker. 
  • An actionable roadmap for achieving your personal and professional goals using tools you already have.
  • A meaningful discussion intersecting faith, energy and quantum science

4 lessons you’ll learn from this book:  

  1. The dynamics of team chemistry and how to utilize them to become a One More Multiplier.
  2. All about your Reticular Activating System and how to live in your Matrix.
  3. Why you should become an Impossibility Thinker and a Possibility Achiever.
  4. The power of developing one more positive habit, fighting one more battle, creating one more identity and building one more relationship.

4 questions this book will answer for you:  

  1. Can I really achieve my goals and dreams without any significant changes to my life circumstances?
  2. How can I remove the mental roadblocks that have been holding me back from success? 
  3. How do I tap into the superpowers that exist inside me?
  4. What steps do I need to take to take my life from ordinary to extraordinary?

What people are saying about this book: 

“The strategies in The Power of One More are universal. You can incorporate them into your life whether you’re a CEO, a world-class athlete, active in your community, or if you want to build better relationships with your family and friends.”

The Power of One More is a must-read for anyone seeking a happier and more successful life.

This groundbreaking book is the first of its kind, revealing how you can combine thoughts and actions to unlock dynamic and impactful changes.

“The premise of The Power of One More is simple: you are closer to living your best life than you may think.”

Your Turn: What did you think of The Power of One More? Share your opinion in the comments. 

Don’t Get Caught in a Vacation Rental Scam

With prices rising on everything, including hotel stays, record numbers of vacationers are choosing to rent private homes or apartments on sites like Airbnb and Vacation Rentals by Owner (VRBO). Unfortunately, though, vacation rental scams are on the rise as well. Here’s all you need to know about these scams and how to avoid them.

How these scams play out

There are several variations of vacation rental scams. 

In one version, the vacation rental advertised on Airbnb, or on a similar site, does not exist or is in very poor condition. The scammer uses online images or doctored photos to create the bogus listing, and rounds out the ruse setup by creating several phony reviews. If a target falls for the scam and rents the “vacation rental,” they’ll be disappointed to arrive at the posted address on the listing and find that the rental does not exist or is quite run down. 

In another version, an individual rents a listing and receives a message from the renter just before their arrival about a last-minute plumbing emergency at the rental site. They’ll be directed to go to another rental instead. This substitute rental will be in far worse condition than the one the vacationer has actually rented. 

In yet another variation, a vacationer unknowingly books a rental on an Airbnb look-alike site. Scammers lure their targets toward these sites by utilizing “URL squatting,” or creating a site that has a similar URL as a well-known site, which in this case, is Airbnb. The fake website enables scammers to capture the payment information of their victims and use it to empty their accounts, or worse. 

In a more recent version of the vacation rental scam, criminals are exploiting people’s kindness and the war in Ukraine to con victims out of their money. Here’s how it works: Generous donors are booking vacation rentals in Ukraine without intending to actually use them as a means to get money to Ukrainians. Airbnb has been supporting this initiative by waiving all host fees for rentals in Ukraine. Unfortunately, though, scammers have been creating fake listings in Ukraine and simply using the money to line their pockets. 

Red flags

Avoid a vacation rental scam by looking out for these warning signs: 

  • The listing is relatively new, yet seems to have multiple reviews from alleged past guests. This is especially true if the listing is in Ukraine.
  • The listing is riddled with typos and spelling mistakes. 
  • The images of the listing look too professional and perfect. 
  • The pictures and description of the rental don’t match up to its price.
  • The URL of the listing site is not secure.
  • The owner asks you to finalize the reservation on a platform that is not the hosting platform.
  • The owner insists on being paid via prepaid gift card or wire transfer. 
  • The owner demands you share more information than they should need for you to reserve a rental. 

Protect yourself

Take these steps to protect yourself from a vacation rental scam:

  1. Check, double-check and triple-check the URL before booking a listing. Look for signs of a secure site, like the lock icon and the “s” after the “http”, and make sure you are still on the authentic host site, such as Airbnb.com, and that you haven’t been lured into a bogus look-alike site. 
  2. Verify that the street address of a rental does indeed exist. You can also Google the address to see if there are any images associated with the address outside the vacation rental site. 
  3. Do a reverse image search to confirm if the photos are doctored up or copied stock images.
  4. Never share sensitive information online with an unverified contact. 
  5. Use a credit card for all online purchases. 
  6. Do an online search of the owner and look for anything suspicious. 

Don’t let your dream vacation turn into a nightmare. Follow the tips outlined here and stay safe! 

Your Turn: Have you been targeted by a vacation rental scam? Tell us about it in the comments. 

Beware Malware Scams

Oh no! Your computer’s been hacked, and it now has an awful virus. But there’s good news; a helpful caller reached out to you to offer their expert help. The caller may even be a representative of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), or another reputable company, and they’re happy to help restore your device to safety. Just do as they say, and all will be right again. 

Unfortunately, it won’t: If you do follow the caller’s instructions, you’ll be lured into a scam. 

Malware scams are particularly malicious, as they exploit the prevalence of scams and hackers to trick innocent victims into losing their information and money. Here’s what you need to know about malware scams and how to avoid them.

How these scams play out

Malware scams, also known as tech support scams, begin as a seemingly innocent phone call. As described, a scammer reaches out to an individual and informs them that their computer or another device has been hacked. The caller will claim that the alleged hacker has gained access to the victim’s computer and can now do all kinds of damage. The caller, posing as a tech support representative, can help remove any viruses or malware that may have been installed in the device. The alleged tech support rep gives clear instructions, often involving giving the caller access to their device. Unfortunately, though, if the victim follows these directions, they’ll actually be installing malware on their computer. 

Red flags

Avoid malware scams by looking out for these warning signs: 

  • An alleged rep of a tech support company, or the FTC, has called you without you reaching out to them first. 
  • The “tech support rep” asks you to provide them with remote access to your device so they can allegedly remove any malware that has been installed.
  • The caller claims that serious damage has already been done to your computer even though everything looks untouched from your observations.
  • The caller urges you to act immediately or risk causing further damage to your device. 
  • The caller asks you to enter your credit card information or checking account details to pay them for their service. Alternatively, they’ll ask to be paid via prepaid gift card. 

If you’ve been targeted

If you believe you’ve been targeted by a malware scam, take these steps to protect your money, and your device, from harm.

First, do not engage with the caller. Hang up as soon possible and block the number. Next, if you’ve started entering information into your computer as per the caller’s instructions, close your device immediately. If you believe you have already given the scammer access to your device, you may want to consult a genuine tech support expert to remove any malware that may have been installed. In addition, consider canceling any credit cards you may have shared with the scammer or which were stored on browsers and apps on the device. Also consider placing a credit freeze on your name to prevent any loans or new lines of credit the scammer may take out in your name. Finally, report the scam to the FTC.

Signs your device has been infected by malware

A computer may be infected with malware and still operate almost normally. Here’s how to tell if your computer’s been infected:

  • It’s slowed down considerably.
  • You’re being blasted with endless pop-up ads. Most of these are also scams. 
  • Your system abruptly crashes. 
  • You’re suddenly low on disk space.
  • There’s an unexplained increase in internet activity. 

If you notice any of these signs on your computer, it’s best to bring it to a tech support expert who can scan it for malware. If malware is found, follow the steps outlined above to protect your money and your information from further harm. 

Don’t get caught in a malware scam! Stay alert and stay safe. 

Your Turn: Have you been targeted by a malware scam? Tell us about it in the comments. 

Step 6 of 12 to Financial Wellness: Pay it Forward

[Now that you’ve started paying down debt, you and your partner have tackled big money issues, and you’ve mastered the art of spending mindfully, you’re now ready to think beyond your own needs by learning how to pay it forward.]

Money management can sometimes feel inherently selfish. You’re earning, budgeting, saving and investing, all so you and those you love can enjoy a worry-free life on your own standards. But there is so much more you can do with the money you’ve been blessed with – as well as with your time, talents and possessions. Let’s explore five different ways you can make the world into a better place by paying it forward. 

  1. Donate funds to your favorite cause

The classic way to pay it forward can also be the simplest. Find a charity or two that speaks to your heart and make a donation that fits your budget. Ideally, it is substantial enough to make a difference, but any amount you are able to responsibly commit adds value and is appreciated. Be sure to verify the authenticity of the organization on a charity-vetting site like, BBB Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator or CharityWatch. Don’t forget to save your receipt so you can claim a charitable-giving deduction on your taxes. 

  1. Commit to do one random act of kindness each day

Kindness doesn’t have to be big or loud to make a difference. It doesn’t even have to be costly. Small things that mean a lot can really make someone’s day. You can offer to make a coffee for your coworker, feed a parking meter that’s about to run out for a stranger’s car, remove a branch or rock from the middle of a busy thoroughfare or walking trail, or let someone go ahead of you at a checkout counter. There’s so much you can do when you look to give. 

  1. Write thank you letters 

When was the last time you thanked your child’s teacher for doing such a fantastic job on providing your child with an education? When was the last time you thanked your parents for giving you life, a happy childhood and their ongoing love and support? When was the last time you thanked your mailperson? Pick up a nice set of thank you cards and spend 20 minutes writing thank you cards to the people in your life; those who do so much for you, but aren’t always thanked for everything they do. Your letters will likely be cherished by the recipients for many months to come. 

  1. Donate your time 

Unfortunately, there are numerous people in this world who are suffering from sickness, poverty, loneliness, mental health challenges or other hardships. With just a small donation of your time, you can help alleviate some of their suffering. You can volunteer at a soup kitchen, help bring cheer to hospitals, offer to babysit for a couple who is going through hard times so they can have a night out to themselves or make a habit out of visiting a lonely person. You can brighten someone’s day with your presence alone!

  1. Share what you have

Aside from money and time, there are so many ways you can use what you have to bring cheer into someone else’s life. You can donate old clothing to Goodwill or gift a friend or neighbor with a full set of your child’s outgrown clothing if it’s still in great condition. Offer to lend out your books to your bookworm friends. Run a low-cost, or even no-cost, yard sale for all the toys, furniture and other items in your home that you don’t use any longer. Share your unused sports equipment with children who are less privileged than yours.

There are so many ways to pay it forward and make the world into a better place. And when you give to others, you’re really giving to yourself by learning how to be a better, kinder person. 

Your Turn: How do you pay it forward? Share your best ideas with us in the comments. 

Don’t Get Caught in a Shopping Scam!

Shopping in 2022 is worlds away from what it was at the turn of the century, or even just a few years ago. According to retail research firm, Digital Commerce 360, ecommerce sales surpassed $870 billion in 2021, a 50% jump over 2019. Online shopping is quick, easy and convenient. 

Unfortunately, though, when a lot of shopping moved online, it also ushered in a wave of scams that are often successful. Some of these scams can be difficult for the untrained eye to spot, and many offer no way for the victim to reclaim their lost funds. Here’s what you need to know to recognize an online shopping scam and avoid being the next victim. 

How these scams play out

There are several variations to the online shopping scam. 

In one version, a shopper will scour the internet for a specific item in their desired price range. They’ll find the item retailing on a site at an attractive price and then proceed to make the purchase. They’ll share payment information, input their delivery address and complete the transaction. Unfortunately, though, the item never arrives on their doorstep. Alternatively, a cheap knockoff of the product will arrive instead of the item they’ve purchased. When the buyer tries to demand a refund, they are unable to reach the seller. 

In another variation, a shopper finds an item online and tries to make a purchase. They’ll be asked to input sensitive information, such as a credit card or checking account number. At this point, the shopper will be unable to complete the transaction and will continuously run into errors on the site. However, the scammers now have their information and can proceed to empty the victim’s accounts, or worse.

In a third version of the online shopping scam, a seller clicks on an ad, or on a site that came up in a Google search for one of their favorite stores. They’ll proceed to make an order, not knowing they’ve actually clicked into a bogus look-a-like site run by scammers. The rest of the scam will follow one of the scenarios described above. 

Red flags

Watch for these warning signs that you may have stumbled upon a shopping scam:

  • Prices are too good to be true. If you find an online offer for a new iPhone retailing at just $450, you’re likely looking at a scam. 
  • The offer urges you to act now. If an offer warns that the bargain prices it’s offering won’t last until sundown, it’s likely a scam. 
  • The seller demands specific means of payment. If an e-tailer insists that you pay via prepaid gift card or wire transfer, opt out. 
  • The website is full of typos and grammar errors. If the site is badly in need of editing, it may be run by scammers. 

Stay safe

Follow these tips to keep yourself safe from online shopping scams:

  • Only shop on safe, secure sites. Check the URL for the lock icon and for the “s” after the “http”.
  • Check the URL for proper spelling of reputable sites. Make sure the URL of the site you’re on matches the authentic URL for that retailer and that you haven’t landed on a spoof site. You may want to save the genuine URLs on your computer for future use. 
  • Avoid clicking on high-pressure pop-ups and banner ads. These are often scams.
  • Pay with a credit card when shopping online. A credit card offers the most protection for your purchases. 
  • Never share personal information with an unverified contact. Don’t input your credit card number or account details unless you’re absolutely sure you’re dealing with a reputable website. 

If you’re targeted

If you’ve fallen victim to an online shopping scam, there are steps you can take to mitigate the damage. 

If you’ve paid via credit card, call the company to dispute the charge. At this point, you may want to consider closing the card and placing a credit alert and/or a credit freeze on your name. Next, alert the FTC about the scam. If the alleged retailer is on the BBB website, you can let them know, too. Finally, let your friends know about the scam so they know to be aware.

Stay safe!

Your Turn: Have you been targeted by a shopping scam? Tell us about it in the comments. 

The Ultimate Grad Gift Guide

Your soon-to-be grad has worked super-hard to reach this momentous occasion and to have their diploma in hand. Celebrate with your grad and show them how proud you are of their hard work and dedication with these low-cost, but awesome, gifts!

  1. ID lanyard

Make it easy for your grad to carry their ID and wallet around campus or the workplace. Super-cute and durable, these lanyards make the perfect graduation gift. 

  1. Oh the Places You’ll Go

You can’t go wrong with this Dr. Seuss classic! Whimsical, yet inspirational, it’s a great read for the older teen setting off into the big world of adulthood. Add your own words of wisdom to the front inside cover for a personalized touch. 

  1. College survival kit

Hit the dollar store and scour the aisles for a big basket and all sorts of stuff you can add to it for making a college survival kit or house/apartment warming kit. You can include essentials, like flip flops and hair ties, kitchen utensils and hand soap. Don’t shy away from having fun by adding extras, like Bluetooth speakers, wall decals and more!

  1. “Open when” letters

Your recent grad’s got a long road ahead of them, but you can make it a little easier with a few well-worded missives. Pen some letters for your grad to open at specific milestones and/or at more challenging times, such as after the first round of final exams, when they’re feeling homesick, when they need a laugh, after handing in their first term paper, etc. Your letters will be the gift that keeps on giving throughout their time in college.

  1. Picture collage

Help your grad have the most awesomely decorated room in college with a fantastic homemade picture collage! Check out their social media pages for the best snapshots of your grad and their friends and family. Then, put together a low-cost, meaningful gift they’ll always treasure. As a plus, they’ll think of you every time they see the collage hanging on their dorm room wall.

  1. Laundry essentials

Spring for an adorable laundry hamper and fill it with all your grad needs to master the wash. Think detergent, dryer sheets, stain remover and more. Add a cute note, like “Have LOADS of fun in college!” to complete the gift. 

  1. Chef’s special

Is your grad a foodie who’s thrilled to prep their own meals? A kitchen-phobic young adult who is worried about being in charge of their own meals? Either way, they’ll love a chef package to help them out. Take a huge mixing bowl, Bundt pan or another large, round cooking essential, and fill it with all they need to master the kitchen. You can load it up with spatulas, measuring cups and spoons, a cute apron, oven mitts, a skillet and more. To make it even more personal, fill a small cookbook with your favorite easy recipes for your grad to try out. If you don’t have a collection of recipes, you can purchase one of the many college cookbooks you’ll find on sites like Amazon.

  1. Bright light

If you’re looking for a cute way to present a cash gift to a grad, try this bright idea: Throw some money in a fake lightbulb and add a note that says “Wishing you a future that’s as bright as you are!” For a variation of this idea, insert cash into the photo slot of an empty picture frame and add a note that says, “In case of emergency, break glass!” Cash is always appreciated, and a creative presentation makes it personal and fun. 

Your grad is off to college or into the workforce soon. Show them how proud you are and prepare them for the exciting years that are ahead. Use these ideas to find the perfect low-cost gift for your grad. 

Your Turn: Have you found the perfect low-cost gift for your grad? Tell us about it in the comments.