For seniors, graduation can be an expensive endeavor.  First, there’s all the fees you have to pay to your school just to file for graduation.  Then there’s the cap and gown you have to buy.  Lots of people send out announcements and invitations to the commencement ceremony so family and friends can celebrate with you.  Some people like to go out to eat afterwards or throw a party.  Plus, there’s the frame to buy for your diploma.  The costs can add up pretty quickly if you aren’t careful.

As someone getting ready to graduate (under 30 days now!) here are my 5 tips for saving money on graduation costs:
Don’t Buy Your Announcements/Invitations from the Bookstore.  The bookstore overcharges absolutely everything -so don’t waste your money on them.   Plus, you’ll be avoiding the crazy long bookstore lines.  Instead, create your own announcements using a word processor and some nice cardstock from an office supply store.  If you don’t want to make your own, check around at office supply store or using an printing website like Vista Print.  Plus, Vista Print often has really great deals to help you get a bunch for cheap.

Check Dollar Stores for Thank You Cards.  Graduation generally means people are sending you gifts and money.  Thus, you better have a Thank You card ready to show your appreciation.  Rather than buy these at the bookstore, check your local dollar store for some cute cards.  Handwriting the cards versus sending an appreciative email or text might sound so last century, but it is the polite thing to do that will truly make an impression on the recipient.

You Don’t Need a Class Ring.  Most people will never actually wear their class ring – especially not after a few months of leaving college.  I know it can seem hard not to get a piece of jewelry that represents the school you’ve called home for the last four (maybe 5) years, but these rings are expensive and really impractical.  If you absolutely feel the need to get something to represent your school, get creative to think of alternatives.  Maybe a nice coffee mug to remind you of your education as you sip your morning cup of coffee.  Or maybe a charm bracelet.  Whatever you choose to buy, it’ll be cheaper than a class ring.

Take Your Own Pictures.  Buying the professional school photos is often really expensive.  As an alternative, try finding an amateur photographer friend or family member to take the photos.  You still got some time before graduation – now is the time to get friendly with a photography students.

Scale Back the Party.  After the commencement ceremony, most graduates and their families go out to a nice restaurant to celebrate.  Some people even continue the party once they get home.  But if you’re looking to save some cash on graduation, one of the best ways you can save money is to scale back on the party a little bit.  Try to find a more inexpensive restaurant that is just as tasty as that fancier one (check Yelp for reviews) and if the party is happening at your home, serve snacks instead of a full meal.  Alcohol is another huge expense, so consider buying less alcohol or at least less variety.

When are you set to graduate?  Are you excited or sad for graduation?

[Photo: Flickr User Ajschwegler]