Looking for graduation Ideas this Spring? Why not give the Gift of a Financial Plan?



Vera Vlaovich

Financial Advisor


Looking for graduation ideasWith spring just around the corner, parents may be wondering what memorable gift may be appropriate for their graduating daughter and/or son.

Some of the traditional gifts that come to mind are watches, jewelry, a special piece of clothing, a new computer or smart phone.

What about giving them a true hold on their future by giving them a personalized, customized financial plan to help them learn and plan their cash flow, investments such as their first RRSP, TFSA, savings accounts and so on. Learning about money and how it can enhance their lives shows genuine care and love for our children. It empowers them as young adults and makes them comfortable with money and what it will do for them throughout their lives. Obtaining appropriate financial advice in their youth definitely helps determine their success and comfort with money for all of their lives.

My own money lessons began when I was 16. As a teenage girl, I wished for new clothes, makeup and the like and asked my mother if I, too, could have a new outfit to wear to school every day. My mother replied “Let’s see if that fits into our family’s cash flow at present”. I had no idea what she meant. My mother sat me down in the dining room (the place where we held family meetings and celebrations) and brought out a big ledger book. She asked me to turn to the current month. There, she had, in her meticulous handwriting, written down all the family’s monthly fixed expenses. There was not much discretionary income in those days. At the very bottom, mom had ‘Excess Cash Flow’ written down. Much to my shock there was no dollar figure there.

At the very top, however, was written ‘Long-term savings/investments’. There was quite a bit written there so I asked my mom if I could have some of that money and she replied “That is your dad’s and my happy retirement money’.

Then, my mom announced that she believed I was ready to begin managing our family’s money and that starting the following month, I, under her initial supervision, would begin adding up the inflows and outflows. This ongoing monthly exercise helped me learn and become very comfortable with money. I thought, at that time, that all families did this with their children, only to find later on that hardly anyone did. Subsequently, years later, under the mentorship of my late brother, Nicholas, I become a financial advisor.My mother’s gift of financial literacy to me was insightful and unusual at that time.

Over my last 25 years as a financial advisor, I have encouraged parents to bring in their young graduates so that we can begin the conversations and education about money with them— be it for a high school student entering higher education or one who has completed their degree/diploma. For some students who have obtained student loans, the meeting lends itself to preparing for a repayment plan as quickly as possible post-graduation as well as stressing the importance of minimizing debts. When should they have a credit card? Who is teaching them about interest and debt? What about long-term investments as part of a financial plan?

When my own son, Gregory, began university, he and I sat down and went over the various expenses he would incur while working towards his degree. One of the most important for me was to teach him about cash flow and budgeting his expenses. This exercise has helped him know where his money is going and how it is being spent. This was the first time in his life that he was in charge of his own money management.

He was recently home for Christmas and asked to book a financial appointment with me to go over next term’s expenses, his RESP and RRSP investments. As some of us are not completely comfortable discussing money with our children, introduce them to your financial advisor. We will take the lead and ease any apprehension for you.

As your financial advisors, it is exciting and satisfying to meet with and encourage these young adults as they move forward with their dreams, including their financial goals.

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