Graduation season is here – Survey finds 82 percent of Americans wish they knew more about personal finance when they were younger

INDIANA – Graduation is a time to celebrate all the hard work it takes to get a diploma.

And according to a recent survey conducted by, the USA’s most generous cashback site, 59 percent of Americans know someone graduating this year and 52 percent of Americans say a graduation gift is expected.

The survey polled a cross-section of 1,880 adults, aged 18 and over.

“Pomp” Up the Party

Will you be attending any graduation parties?

  • Yes (63 percent)
  • No (37 percent)

Gift of “Grad”

Will you be buying any graduation gifts?

  • Yes (57 percent)
  • No (43 percent)

How much do you plan to spend per graduation gift?

  • $26 to $50 (32 percent)
  • $51 to $100 (32 percent)
  • $25 or less (14 percent)
  • More than $200 (11 percent)
  • $101 to $200 (11 percent)

What kind of graduation gifts will you be purchasing? (select all that apply) [top five responses]

  • Gift card (62 percent)
  • Cash (54 percent)
  • Tech [laptop, phone, tablet, etc.] (21 percent)
  • Jewelry (15 percent)
  • Clothing/shoes (14 percent)

Diploma Dilemmas

How long did it take you to find a job after graduation?

  • Less than 1 month (54 percent)
  • 1 to 3 months (21 percent)
  • More than 6 months (17 percent)
  • 4 to 6 months (Eight percent)

Were you financially independent after graduation?

  • Yes (61 percent)
  • No (39 percent)

(If no) How long did it take you to become financially independent after graduation?

  • Less than 3 months (60 percent)
  • 3 to 6 months (16 percent)
  • More than a year (12 percent)
  • 6 to 9 months (Six percent)
  • 9 to 12 months (Six percent)

In your opinion, what is the biggest financial hurdle that college graduates face?

  • Paying off student loans (53 percent)
  • Keeping up with rent/mortgage payments (23 percent)
  • Saving for retirement (15 percent)
  • Reducing credit card debt (Nine percent)

And since 89 percent of Americans would have found it useful to learn about personal finance when they were younger, here are three personal finance tips for college grads from Rebecca Gramuglia, a consumer expert at

  • Build credit early. As young adults, it’s important to know how your financial decisions will affect your future. Having a good credit score will benefit you and prepare you for when you’re buying a home or a car, taking out personal loans, and more. Start by opening a credit card in your name, if you don’t have one already. Look for a credit card that fits your lifestyle and interests (ex: travel, dining, shopping, etc.) so you can earn rewards and/or cashback on things you’ll actually buy in the future. And even if you don’t use the card often, you’re still establishing credit — the longer your credit history, the better!
  • Stop paying full price. Even if your student discounts no longer work, there are still ways to save in the “real world.” When you shop online, be sure to research applicable coupons and discounts before clicking the “purchase” button. Make sure you’re shopping through a cashback site, like, where you’ll score the highest percentage of your money back on purchases from stores like SephoraUrban OutfittersStubHub, and more.
    • Buy and sell used. When you eventually move out of your college dorm or apartment, don’t feel like your new place needs to have all brand new furnishings. See if you can repurpose your furnishings in your new living space. Or, if you’re looking for extra cash, try selling anything you’re no longer using (i.e. textbooks, bedroom furniture, etc.). Likewise, if you’re looking for new items for your post-grad residence, look for items at thrift stores or on places like Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and Mercari.
  • Start saving sooner rather than later. While you may be excited about your newfound freedom, job, and income, don’t spend it all in one shot. If you find yourself getting cash from graduation gifts or your last paycheck from your college side hustle, see if you can stash either a portion or all of that money into your savings account or an emergency fund. And as you continue to make money, always try to put a portion of it into that other account when you can. Consistency is key no matter how big or small the amount is. By having a dedicated fund, you can eliminate future financial stress in unexpected emergency situations that you would typically need money for.