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Web Sites Let Couples Register for Stock

May 31, 2004

NEW YORK (AP) _ The big wedding trend this year was supposed to be the gift registry at home-improvement chain Home Depot Inc. But another twist was introduced earlier this month, allowing future brides and grooms to register for gifts of Home Depot stock.

GiftsofStock.com was launched by financial publishing firm The Moneypaper Inc. in Rye, N.Y., as a way for people to more easily invest in dividend reinvestment plans, or DRIPs.

DRIPs are company-sponsored investment programs that let anyone with at least one share grow their stock holdings by reinvesting their dividends. DRIPs are a great investment tool for young investors, like newlyweds, who can’t always afford more common methods of investing, such as brokerage accounts.

GiftsofStock.com can help people overcome the initial hurdles of DRIP investing. Rather than front the cost for the first shares yourself, you can receive them as gifts for a wedding, the birth of a newborn baby, a graduation, an anniversary or a birthday.

Melissa Longmire, a 21-year-old student from Houston, was already registered at shops like Target Corp. and Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. for her wedding. But she made sure her family knew which gifts she preferred when she sent notice that she had registered with GiftsofStock.com.

``I told them I would much rather have shares of stock than a roasting pot or dishes,″ Longmire said.

GiftsofStock.com is part of a small but growing trend toward alternative wedding gifts, said Sharon Naylor, an author of wedding advice books.

Couples today get married so much later in life and often already own the household appliances wedding registries were designed to help them acquire, said Naylor, of Madison, N.J. Many couples would rather receive money or even patio furniture than a toaster, she said.

Despite the growth in demand for alternatives, financial gift registries aren’t always successful. The Department of Housing and Urban Development, for example, created a registry in 1996 so couples could ask wedding guests for help saving for a new home. But it was discontinued about four years ago, according to Lemar Wooley, a HUD spokesman.

One reason financial registries haven’t grown as fast as other registry alternatives is that there’s still some discomfort with asking for money. ``Etiquette-wise, that’s still a big no-no,″ said Naylor.

She recommends people who break with tradition and ask for financial gifts for their wedding temper it with one or two traditional registries so that guests who are uncomfortable with the idea of giving money can still give kitchenware.

People might also consider notifying only close friends and relatives, and those who would be more receptive to the idea, Naylor added.

GiftsofStock.com offers choices of 56 different stocks _ picked because they have low or no costs associated with setting up or making additional cash investments, said Vita Nelson, editor and publisher of MoneyPaper.

After picking the stocks, you can e-mail people to notify them that you have registered. When someone buys you a stock in your registry, GiftsofStock.com will mail you a mock certificate, along with information about how to get started with that company’s DRIP. Once someone buys you a stock on your registry, no one else can buy it, so there’s no danger of doubling up.

Companies like OneShare.com and Frame-A-Stock.com have a similar service, in that they let you buy one share of stock, which comes with a stock certificate, as gifts for other people. GiftsofStock.com also has that option _ but is one of a few that also has a registry service.

GiftsofStock.com charges around $20 for the service of buying the stock and registering it in the owner’s name.

If you go through a broker to buy one stock, you would first pay for the trade _ roughly $8 to $30, depending on the brokerage firm _ and then an additional $15 to $25 to register the stock in your name.

The cost associated with GiftsofStock.com can rise, however, when the stock price fluctuates. In other words, the fee of roughly $20 is added to the price of the stock, but if the stock falls before the purchase is fulfilled, you still pay the same rate you were initially quoted.

Longmire experienced some backlash when she registered with GiftsofStock.com. Some family members made comments that it was a ``bold″ move, she said. Still, she doesn’t regret her decision and has used the service to buy stock for her roommate as a graduation present.

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