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Save Money on Graduation Expenses

Save Money on Graduation Expenses

Celebrate to your heart’s content – the key is to be creative to save a little dough in the process!

Elizabeth Hoyt

April 21, 2015

You’d think that graduation would actually save money but, in reality, it can become quite expensive. Between filing fees, the cap and gown, announcements and invitations, party planning and gifts, costs can really begin to add up.

When it comes to graduation, celebrate to your heart’s content – the key is to be creative to save a little dough in the process!

Follow the tips below to help you save, high school or college students, whether it’s your own graduation or you’re planning a graduation celebration for loved one.

Reserve your cap and gown early

If you have the option, reserve or purchase your cap and gown early. The earlier, the better because students who wait until the last minute are often charged nearly double the price! If you’re renting, make sure to return your cap and gown on time because late fees often apply.

Shop around for announcements and invitations

You don’t buy your textbooks at the college bookstore because of the costs so why on earth would invitations be any different? There are websites that offer discounts or specials to students on graduation invitations and announcements.

You can check out web sites like Pear Tree, Minted, Invite Shop (and many more) for unique designs that are also affordable!

Buy thank you cards on the cheap

Check dollar stores and the sales section at card shops for thank you cards. Also, discount stores like Marshalls and Homegoods often have thank you cards for lower prices than card retailers.

Also, check for graduation thank you card sales that are affordable on the web. Card prices vary based on whether they are personalized or generic, and you can find great deals on bulk notes on websites. (They have an amazing selection of thank you notes for great prices on Amazon – for example, we found 144 for just $32.99!)

Will you really wear a class ring?

Graduates are understandably nostalgic about leaving college and want to have mementos but, if you won’t wear it, a class ring is a very expensive memento to acquire. If you will, go ahead and purchase it!

However, with an expensive purchase such as a ring, take a moment to consider if you will actually wear it – especially years from graduation. If you do not see yourself wearing for years to come, pass on the ring and opt for framing your diploma, instead.

Frame your own diploma

You’ll have the option of purchasing an “official” diploma frame. There’s nothing “official” about the frame – think of the word “official” as a synonym for the word “expensive.”

You can easily find a cheaper diploma frame online, like on Paper Direct where they start at $8.99, or on Amazon, where they start at around $4!

Take your own photos

Family and friends will be happy to take photos of the graduate in cap and gown before, during and after the ceremony. And, smart phone photos are great quality and make it easy to share photos with everyone.

Want prints of your photos? No problem! There’s an app called FreePrints, which lets you choose as many prints as you’d like from your photo gallery and other apps (up to 1,000 annually), prints them on quality photo paper and sends them right to you for only $1.99 shipping and handling if ordering 4×6 photos. There are additional fees for different sizes but the cost never goes over $9.99, which is still way cheaper than professional photos! FreePrints is available on iPhone, Android, Windows Phone & Windows 8 devices.

That way, you will not have to spend upwards of $50 on expensive packages for the school’s “official” graduation photo package. Often times, the candid shots are the best anyway!

Book flights and accommodations early

Any necessary travel plans – whether it’s for family to come to the graduation or for you to get home – should be made as far in advance as possible to keep the cost down.

Additionally, family members coming into town for graduation should book hotel reservations as early as possible. As demand goes up, the rates will reflect the change in demand and rise as well.

Simplify the graduation dinner

Instead of planning an expensive graduation dinner with family and friends, opt for slightly less expensive restaurants.

Since the occasion is what you’re really celebrating, you’ll have a great time no matter where you dine and enjoy the company of loved ones regardless!

Sometimes, local restaurants event have special menu options for graduates and their families, especially in college towns. Call around to see which of your favorite restaurants in town have affordable options before you decide on a restaurant.

DIY or tone down your graduation party

Graduation parties are a great way to celebrate; however, they can get pretty out of control in the expense department.

Scale back by making some of the food, go for a barbecue theme and by offering less expensive alcoholic beverages or lessen the variety.

Create any decorations yourself DIY style and see if you can throw the party at home or somewhere that is free, like a local park.


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