For college graduates entering a challenging job market, some of whom are carrying tremendous student loan debt, any gift to help them better manage their
 money is both practical and welcome.

The following are three ways to help recent graduates find their financial footing in the real world:
1. Investing For The Long Haul

When William Bauer, managing director of Royce, a New Jersey leather goods company, graduated from McGill University in 2014 and HEC Paris in 2015, his mother gave him 100 shares of Johnson & Johnson stock and 100 shares of Qualcomm.

"It's nice to have money to fall back on for the inevitable rainy day," says Bauer, who liked the gift idea so much that he recently gave his brother stock upon college graduation.

Jake Rheude's parents essentially gave him a forced savings plan. Rheude studied marketing at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, driving a 2001 Audi A4 his parents loaned him. He paid the insurance on it to them every month.

When Rheude graduated, his parents gave him access to a bank account where his monthly payments of $96 had been deposited and accumulating in a mutual fund account.

"Their gift to me was over $5,000, money that would have likely been spent on frivolous expenses had I not been required to make the payments," says Rheude, now director of business development and marketing for Red Stag Fulfillment, in

"It taught me an immense amount about the realities of living expenses, but also about the power of saving a relatively small amount—although some months it seemed like a huge amount—consistently, over the course of several years," he said.

Cash gifts are another conduit to fiscal responsibility. For financial writer Scott Bowen, a gift of $1,000 from his father as he graduated from an MFA program was directed into a mutual fund account.

"That wasn't much money, but it got me focused on two essential habits: putting your own money away for the future and not thinking you can rely on a 401(k) or Social Security," Bowen says, adding that "you have to pay attention to the things that you invest in—you actually have to understand some things about the fund itself and its investment direction."

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