By Lynne Adkins

SOUTHAMPTON, Pa. (CBS) — Congratulations! Your daughter (or son) has finally graduated from college and has received some nice financial gifts.

Do you know how to advise your child about ways to spend that money that will make a difference?

Graduation gifts are often in the form of checks, and your son or daughter may want to use the money for a new laptop or a post-graduation trip.

But there are better uses for the windfall, according to Mark Zinman, a CPA in Southampton (Bucks County), Pa. — especially if the graduate has a job and needs to relocate.

“The money would be great to be used to buy the furniture, help with the apartment,” Zinman tells KYW Newsradio, “because I think the worst thing that somebody graduating from college can do is take on credit card debt that they’re unable to pay right away.”

He says opening a retirement account or a mutual fund may seem foreign to a 22-year-old, but the money, socked away early, has a chance to grow substantially over the next few decades.