Wedding registries are the modern way to give newlyweds exactly what they want. Couples scan their homemaking wishlists into a virtual catalog, from which guests can purchase specific items as a token of congratulations.
Though this process is a staple of the modern American wedding, a promising new trend is gaining popularity: financial gift registries.
The Rise in Financial Gift Registries
I’m not merely talking about a gift of money slipped into a card, intended for use on some household purchase or honeymoon expense. These types of registries are designed to appropriate donations towards the couple’s financial planning goals, instead of current needs or wants.
These types of registries, run by sites such as HoneyFund, UponOurStar, Present Value, and WeddingFutures, allow couples to register for investment packages designed to help them fund the purchase of a home, pay off debt, or build their retirement nest egg.
Most accounts are free to set up, and are free or charge a percentage-based fee for their services. The process works much like a regular gift registry, but cash donations are “purchased” by wedding guests instead of gifts. Registries like these aren’t exclusive to weddings, either; accounts can be created for expectant parents, graduates, or even retirees, with the same concept in mind.
Why They Make Sense Now
The growing popularity of this alternative to traditional registries is a sign that Americans are becoming more focused on and concerned about their financial futures when approaching the marriage milestone.
Unlike previous eras, when toasters and table linen were a necessity for couples who were truly starting fresh, today’s couples are usually older and have been on their own for a while — so there isn’t as much need for the basics of setting up house. And, even though gifts of money are useful for whatever the couple needs, they aren’t intended for or easily converted into long-term investing.
A Lifetime of Financial Security
There is, of course, the possibility that people may get offended at the request for financial donations, but, then again, people get offended no matter what you do. I believe most people would view goals such as becoming debt-free, establishing an emergency fund, buying a house, and planning for retirement as worthy causes to support, because they demonstrate a desire to be financially responsible.
What’s more, guests may appreciate knowing their gift will be truly useful and beneficial to the couple. And not just for a few years, but for their lifetime together, because investments aren’t just savings — they grow.
It may be a while before this trend truly catches on, because there are still so many things couples want now, and it’s hard to get out of that mentality and look toward the future. I, for one, wish I’d known about this option when I got married, because it’s something my husband and I might have considered as an alternative to a gift registry.
Marriage and establishing a household are commitments that are designed to last for “as long as you both shall live.” Why shouldn’t wedding gifts reflect this long-term commitment?
Do you think financial gift registries are a good idea? Would you be offended if someone asked you to give to one as their wedding present?
Editor's Note: I've begun tracking my assets through Personal Capital. I'm only using the free service so far and I no longer have to log into all the different accounts just to pull the numbers. And with a single screen showing all my assets, it's much easier to figure out when I need to rebalance or where I stand on the path to financial independence.
They developed this pretty nifty 401K Fee Analyzer that will show you whether you are paying too much in fees, as well as an Investment Checkup tool to help determine whether your asset allocation fits your risk profile. The platform literally takes a few minutes to sign up and it's free to use by following this link here. For those trying to build wealth, Personal Capital is worth a look.