UNITED STATES—May and June, those are the two months that highlight milestones for most Americans: graduation season. You might have a youngster graduating from preschool, kindergarten or middle school. Then you have the big events, high school and college graduation. I think the next 5 years, I have graduations to attend, rather its middle school, high school or college, my wallet is about to take a massive hit. So I recently had a discussion with a family member asking, what gift do you give to someone who is graduating? It’s easy for the youngsters, but high school and college are a bit more challenging.

If I’m being honest with myself, I wanted money for both high school and college, so I would feel like a hypocrite to give anything else. At the same time, you have to ask the question, what are the limits when it comes to a monetary gift? I mean when I graduated from high school, typical money cards were between $25 and $50. If I was lucky, I think I snuck in a $100 bill from my parents, but to be honest I can’t fully remember. I think after it was all said and done, I might have earned maybe $500 for high school graduation.

That was a decent amount in my opinion at the time. Nowadays, these kids are getting their pockets loaded. I mean my little brother had maybe $2000 for graduating high school. That left me baffled, and it wasn’t because I was jealous, it was just me wondering when did the amount you give rise to such proportions. You want to teach kids responsibility, but with that type of money, most of them splurge and purchase the most expensive item they can. They don’t’ think about saving or using that money for college or something else like a car?!

For college, I do firmly believe you have to give a college graduate a larger amount. It’s such a big accomplishment in my opinion and deserving. This especially holds true if you’re dealing with a kid who worked his or her tail off to pay for school all by themselves (hence point that finger directly to me). College was huge for me because I was the first in my family to make it happen, and as a result my pockets were loaded.

I wanted a car, but I didn’t get that, so I settled for money. I easily had anywhere from $3000 to $5000 when the summer came to an end. Why? Every time I spoke to someone, I was being handed money or a card with money congratulating me on my hard work. I have a high school graduation to go to this week and I’m tinkering in my head, what is the right amount, what is too little, what is too much to give to my niece. I have a few days so I’m not going to place too much pressure on myself.

She’ll definitely get money, how much; I guess she’ll know after she opens the card that I give her. One thing for sure, I don’t plan on trying to outdo anyone else, I’m giving what my budget allows and what I think is a suitable and fair amount. It’s that simple.