Right about now, you may be wondering what to send your niece for a high school graduation gift. If you’re like most people, you’ll wind up mailing her a check. At least that’s what 57 percent of gift givers plan to send to their graduating loved ones this year, according to a National Retail Federation survey.

The three next most-popular gifts (according to the survey) are gift certificates, clothing, and electronics.

Whatever happened to good old-fashioned books? Just because your graduate is done with school doesn’t mean she’s done learning. Why not give her a book that has been meaningful, useful, or enlightening for you?

When my little brother graduated from high school, I gave him a copy of Michael Masterson’s best-selling book Automatic Wealth for Grads… and Anyone Else Just Starting Out. It turned out to be a book he’s read a dozen times. One reason: It’s packed full of strategies for building wealth from the bottom up.

For instance, he’s taken Michael’s chapter on the miracle of compound interest to heart. Instead of spending every penny he earns, he thinks seriously about whether his purchases have long-term value. And he puts a big chunk of his earnings into savings. When he gets out of the Army, he says, he’ll have more than enough for a down payment on a house.

But even more important than that, Michael wrote the book specifically for young people – people with no knowledge of investing or real estate or business-building. He has nearly a dozen nieces and nephews and three sons of his own. So he made sure that every piece of advice in the book is useful for people just starting out. And that each suggestion is easy to follow. For example…

  • Why “regular” pay raises are a sure path to poverty (and the 3 steps you can take to build a high income in record time)
  • How to use your first job out of school as a “paid education” in the art of running a business – and how to transition easily and ethically to your own business when the time is right
  • 8 easy-to-follow direct-marketing techniques that can help you land practically any job you want

Sure, you could give your graduate a check or an iPod or a gift card from Best Buy. But wouldn’t a better gift be one that could help him discover financial independence?

[Ed. Note: Get the perfect gift for your graduate right here.]
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