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9 Easy Graduation Money Card Ideas (so Eye-Catching!)

Cash for graduations is a great gift, but can be a bit “predictable”. Make things fun with these graduation money card ideas.

Giving a graduating high school senior or college student money, and need some unique graduation money card ideas?

four grids showing money graduation cash ideas, text overlay "graduation money card 9 fun ideas"

Smart move on the cash, since graduates typically have some big expenses coming just after getting that sweet diploma – college tuition, first apartment deposits, textbooks, office wardrobe, possibly purchasing their first car, etc.

Make the gift a bit more fun and unpredictable with these grad money ideas.   

Hint: here are smart ways to spend your graduation money.

Graduation Money Card Ideas

Stop racking your brain for a clever way to give cash to the next graduate in your life, and instead, use one of these ideas below.

1. Fill a Sushi Bento Box with Cash

chopsticks picking up money sushi rolls in blue and white bento box

Get a pair of takeout chopsticks from your junk drawer, and buy a bento box.

Here's how to make the money sushi rolls:

  • Fold each dollar bill in half lengthwise so that the president’s face shows on the outside
  • Roll them up like you’re creating a piece of sushi
  • Secure each with a small paper clip
  • Fold another bill in half lengthwise, then put the first bill inside of it before wrapping it up like a sushi
  • Secure with a paperclip on the same edge
  • Turn it “upside down”, and you won’t see the paperclips…but you’ll have a little dollar-bill sushi (go as thick as you want by adding more bills)
$10 bill folded in half lengthwise
one money sushi roll being rolled up into the second bill that has been folded lengthwise
money sushi roll shown with paperclips being put on it
full money sushi roll done, standing straight up, with paper clips underneath

Stash them in the bento box next to each other – make enough so that they’re snug.

Their money graduation card can say:

  • “Congratulations! You're on a roll! Keep going.”
  • “Congratulations – let the good times keep rollin' in.”

Bonus: they can use the bento box for office lunches or dorm room snacks in their young adult life!

2. Hide it in a Money Diversion Safe

How hilarious would it be to hand over a graduation card…and a can of shaving cream?

Or a graduation card with a can of Coca-Cola?

Your graduate will likely not know that those household products they think you’re giving as a gift is really a diversion safe with some cash in it.

A few of my favorites:

Bonus: they can use the diversion safe to help hide valuables in their first apartment or dorm room!

3. Give an Employee Badge Money Gift

red I Want More Pizza book with employee badge on front with $20 inside

Your graduate will likely be getting a job soon (or they might have already started their first teen job).

Really bring home the idea of “make your money work for you” – the idea that money earns its own money through interest from a savings account or by investing it – by putting your cash gift into a plastic employee badge.

A card is nice to go with this, for sure. But to give them a book that then talks about how to make your money work for you? That’s where the gold is.

A few of my favorite teen money books:

4. Give a Crystal Ball with their Cash Gift

plastic snow globe filled with rolled up money and red confetti

You’ve looked into their post-grad future…and it looks money-bright!

Show them your prediction of their lucrative future by buying a fillable snow globe (from the Dollar Tree), and filling it with your cash gift.

Even more fun: fill it with little notes of other predictions you have for their future.

Such as:

  • You will find great love
  • You will do great things
  • I predict you will be ­fill in a position

Keep them fortune-telly, make them specific, or make them hilarious – your choice.

5. Give a Mason Jar Money Plant

mason jar filled with soil, and dollar bills coming out of the top

You can give your graduate a card that says “it’s time to plant some seeds, and watch them grow!” along with this cool money plant.

It’s very easy to make:

You could put a tag around it, or give a card, that says

“Congratulations – may your money tree continue to grow, grow, and grow!”

6. Give them a “Fortune”

Buy a Chinese Takeout Box, and then download some free printable fortune cookie inserts.

Flood the box with the inserts, as well as some cold, hard cash.

Now that sounds like the yummiest kind of takeout to me.

7. Payday Graduation Cash Gift

payday candy bars wrapped with a $20, and a printable tag

Many graduates go straight into the workforce (OR, are at least in the job market).

Why not hand some cash over with a Payday…candy bar, that is?

She also gives you free tags you can print. Done, and done!

8. Put it in a Slim Wallet (that Fits in a Card)

slim black wallet sticking out of congrats graduation card with light green envelope

Owning a slim wallet can come in handy for teens and young adults. Choose from my review of the best teen wallets, slip in some cash, and put the whole thing inside of a graduation card.

Here’s two of my favorites that would fit:

Your card can say, “Your wallet may be slim now, but it won't be forever! Congratulations.”

9. Help them Start their “Nest Egg”

white devilled egg holder filled with golden easter eggs, and one egg open showing dollar bill

You and I know how important starting your nest egg is (and I'll bet we all wish we had started even sooner, seeing now how much money can grow, given time).

Get a devilled egg holder (I got this one from the Dollar Tree), and some golden Easter eggs. Fill each one with a bill.

In the graduation card, write something like:

  • “Congratulations! Here's a little help with starting your nest egg.”

Creating this article on graduation money card ideas was so fun – it took me back to my own college graduation party, when my aunt and uncle, a cartoonist, stashed $200 in a condolences card. This was absolutely hilarious to a person that was not looking forward to saying goodbye to college and entering the workforce (and he knew that, which is why he made light of it). Totally funny idea! I hope you've found that one idea YOU'RE super excited to do for the graduating senior in your life. They'll appreciate it, that's for sure (I know I did).

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Amanda L. Grossman is a writer and Certified Financial Education Instructor, a 2017 Plutus Foundation Grant Recipient, and founder of Money Prodigy. Her money work has been featured on Experian, GoBankingRates, PT Money,, Rockstar Finance, the Houston Chronicle, and Colonial Life. Amanda is the founder and CEO of Frugal Confessions, LLC. Read more here or on LinkedIn.