As we quickly approach the graduation season, the question becomes what to get our budding new professionals?

My suggested gifts are filled with wisdom (rather than monetary value). Here are my top three ideas:

1. Teach your kids how to do their own laundry (if they haven’t already learned!) - do this before they leave the “nest”. Yes whites, colors and dark clothes do have to be separated. Perhaps you could splurge on a gift of laundry detergent. In order to save money my now 21 year old son washed his clothes in a bath tub for his first year at university. Needless to say when he came home to visit we were wondering what the peculiar smell was - he had a huge bag of dirty laundry in tow. Am I the only parent who thinks kids should do their own laundry, especially when they come home to visit? I already supply the water/electricity for the washing machine/dryer and the laundry detergent! Doing the laundry for your kids can be a handicap for future co-habitation.

2. Help your son/daughter put together a budget, preferably using an excel spreadsheet - putting the numbers in writing really does make it clearer about what things cost and helps everyone remember what those costs are. The reality is that until your kids get settled into a job (which is a real bonus in today’s difficult economy), they may need some help with start-up costs and learning to live within their means.

The other side about learning to budget, is of course learning to save. This seems to be a dying skill. Bring it back to life for the good of your kids. Our daughter was the first one off to college and this spreadsheet idea really worked. It made us realize pretty quickly that the housing costs in London were more expensive than the actual tuition! It paved the way for more relaxed future discussions about money as we had a benchmark to go back to, especially if more money was needed. She has learned how to save despite a tight student budget and is now ready to use this skill as she enters the world of work.

3.Teach your kids some basic cooking and grocery shopping skills – keep in mind their limited budget. Whenever I cook our older son wants to know how I made it (my meals seem to be a mystery). I could write a whole book on cooking shortcuts, but here’s a few to share:

• Plan your meals and your grocery list – and stick to it once you get to the store (or shop online). This way you avoid buying things you really don’t need – very handy for those on a tight budget.

• Include lots of fresh fruit and veg on your list – these items are cheap and healthy. If meats (which are usually the expensive part of the grocery list) are on sale, buy more than you need and put in the freezer. Chicken for instance is a great one as there are tons of quick and easy chicken recipes out there.

• Cook more than one serving at a time – leftovers are way under-rated and they reduce the preparation time as well as the clean-up time for busy young adults. You can use the cooked meats later to make a salad – it looks and tastes like a different meal even though it’s the same meat you ate the day before.

• Marinate your meat – don’t let the fancy name full you. Simply take any left over wine or use soy sauce, pour over the meat, add onions and spices such as thyme, rosemary, and parsley. Place the meat in a dish with a cover and leave in the fridge overnight. It makes a significant difference to the taste and texture. Olive oil, lemon and thyme also makes a quick and easy marinade.

There you have it! Off they go! It’s time for them to learn these key survival skills. With these 3 gifts at least your newly graduated young adult will be better prepared for the real world. Good luck to all.

Author's Bio: 

Entrepreneur and author, Christine Brown-Quinn founded her consultancy practice The Female Capitalist ™ in 2010, after publishing her book entitled Step Aside Super Woman, Career & Family is for Any Woman. As a former managing director in banking, she now works as an author, international speaker and management consultant focused on helping organizations leverage female talent as well as empowering professional women to successfully combine career and family.

Christine has an undergraduate degree in Foreign Languages from Georgetown University (Cum Laude) and an MBA in International Business from George Washington University (Beta Gamma Sigma scholar). She has also tutored for Georgetown University’s Graduate Program in International Management at Oxford University on managing diversity in the workplace.