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The Cheapskate's top gift picks for grads

Whether you're sending a kid off to college or out into the world, these are among the most practical (and affordable) gifts to give.

This is the time of year when kids finish up high school -- or, scarier still, college. Looking to reward their achievements? Give them a little help as they venture on to the next chapter? I've got some ideas.

Below you'll find my picks for some of the best gifts you can give a grad. Because I'm The Cheapskate, I do tend to look for affordable options -- you won't see Apple AirPods or Sonos speakers here. But I think any young person would be happy to get any of these items, regardless of what you paid.

Read more: The best grad gifts under $50

Read more: The best grad gifts under $100

Read more: CNET's complete guide to graduation gifts 2019

Gift subscription to LinkedIn Premium ($29.99 per month)

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Statistics increasingly show that college graduates are "underemployed," meaning they end up taking jobs that don't leverage their education. If you want to give your kid every possible opportunity, consider a subscription to LinkedIn Premium Career. The service offers a variety of useful tools for job-seekers, including InMail credits (for directly contacting any user), on-demand courses and help finding jobs that meet the applicant's criteria.

See at LinkedIn

Amazfit Bip smartwatch: $80

Sarah Tew/CNET

Going off to college or out into the world means learning to be responsible, which means remembering appointments, catching calls and messages as they come in and just generally keeping tabs on time -- challenges assisted nicely by a smartwatch. The Amazfit Bip remains my favorite affordable option for Android and iPhone users alike, and it's particularly ideal for kids learning "how to adult" because it needs charging only every two to three weeks.

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Read full review

Wyze Cam Pan ($30) and Wyze Cam Sense ($20)

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Dorm rooms and apartments are, unfortunately, prime targets for thieves. So why not give your grad the tools to keep an eye on things? The Wyze Cam Pan security camera is a fantastic choice for smaller living spaces, as just one of them can probably provide all the necessary surveillance. 

Meanwhile, the just-released Wyze Sense kit comes with a motion sensor and two door/window sensors, all designed to integrate with the Cam.

See at Wyze
Read full review

AirPod alternative: TaoTronics TWS TT-BH053: $50

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By the end of school, any kid's favorite headphones or earphones are probably plumb worn out. It would be a nice gesture to replace them, but don't bother with pricey Apple AirPods or Samsung Galaxy Buds -- not when these TaoTronics true-wireless earbuds are nearly as good for a fraction of the price.

See at Amazon
Read full review

The Elements of Investing: $13


Forget the whimsical, obvious choice -- Dr. Seuss' Oh, The Places You'll Go -- and give a grad something of actual use: a book that teaches the basics of saving and investing money. Because, let's face it, few high-school or college programs give kids the knowledge they need. Elements is a relatively slim 208 pages, so it's not as intimidating as some money-advice books.

See at Amazon

Mighty Vibe portable Spotify player: $80

Sarah Tew/CNET

There's nothing inherently graduate-friendly about this, but the Mighty Vibe is one of my favorite under-the-radar products -- and kids are all about the Spotify, right? This tiny portable player resembles Apple's old iPod Shuffle, but sucks up Spotify playlists for phone- and data-free listening.

See at Amazon
Read full review

Moto G7 Play phone: $199

Sarah Tew/CNET

So the kid suffered through school with that slowpoke phone with the cracked screen. A pretty great reward would be a new phone. CNET has rounded up some of the best phones to gift to a grad, but I'm going to give the nod to the Moto G7 Play, which delivers a ton of features for under $200. 

See at Amazon
Moto G7 models compared

Originally published on May 13, 2019.
Update, May 20: Added new gift ideas, removed expired options.  

CNET's Cheapskate scours the web for great deals on PCs, phones, gadgets and much more. Note that CNET may get a share of revenue from the sale of the products featured on this page. Questions about the Cheapskate blog? Find the answers on our FAQ page. Find more great buys on the CNET Deals page and follow the Cheapskate on Facebook and Twitter!