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The best financial gift for college graduates is not necessarily money, says Deborah Owens, ‘The Wealth Coach.

“I want to encourage parents to begin to pay it forward financially and you can do that by gifting stock. It doesn’t have to be difficult. Do it by investing in companies you buy everyday. Everybody’s on their smartphones. Apple is one of the largest holdings. Many of the sisters want these expensive designer bags like Louis Vuitton. What many people don’t know is Louis Vuitton’s [parent company] is LVMH and they have a ton of brands. If you’re going to buy a $2500 Louis Vuitton bag, why not buy LVMH stock.”

Owens says that the site is one that can assist you in buying stocks in companies you love and that they don’t charge transaction fees like many companies do. They also allow investors to start at as little as $10 a month.

“You’re limited to the types of stock – you can’t invest in every stock but many of the brands that you know like Apple and Nike, that’s a great way to get a college graduation involved in investing.”

College grads in their first jobs should also take advantage of their 401K plans, usually after you make the probation period.

“The average debt coming out of college is 30,000,” Owens says. “I hear college graduates saying they can’t afford to [invest] but I tell them you can’t afford not to. At least invest to the amount that the employer will match. Sometimes you can get up to $.50 on the dollar up to even more. They’re not going to see a significant difference in their take-home pay because they are taking it out of pre-tax, so what ends up happening is it looks like you’re earning less money so you end up paying less in taxes.”

As far as when the college grad should leave home, for those that have bounced back to the family homestead.

“A lot of them want to stay home and knock out some of that debt before they go out on their own. But if you want the bird to fly the coop, keep making it uncomfortable. A lot of parents make it very comfortable. Another thing I want to tell parents is its really important to get them started on the right habits. Pay yourself first, and start a mutual fund account that will let you pay as little as $50 a month. I provide a list if you sign up to my newsletter at A lot of times you think you need $2,000 or $3,000 but what many people don’t know is those minimum investments are reduced if you set up some kind of automatic account billing.”

Deborah Owens, ‘The Wealth Coach,’ is a 20-year financial services industry veteran and former vice-president and financial consultant with Fidelity Investments. She is a contributor to CNN, ABC News Now, News One Now, Essence Magazine, Ebony, Black Enterprise and other local and national media outlets.

She talks to Skip Murphy about the best financial gifts for college graduates.

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