What is the program that allows investors, especially young people, to purchase individual stocks in various companies. Was the brokerage house that has this program set up Fidelity? Thank you.

Terry Says:  Stockpile.com is the website you’re probably thinking of — It allows you to buy “gift cards” that let the child choose shares in almost any company.  My old favorite, Sharebuilder.com, has been absorbed into CapitalOneInvesting.com — and though I searched for it, I could not find the program that used to allow you to start with small amounts of money to buy a few shares of stock.

Now, just remember, these accounts are opened on a “custodial” basis, which means that at the age of majority the money belongs to the child!  And money in a child’s name or in a custodial account weighs 7x more heavily against a family in the analysis of “need” for financial aid.  So you might want to gift a few shares of a few stocks to whet a child’s interest.  But larger amounts should be invested in a 529 college savings plan, which has far less impact on financial aid and which grows tax free for college expenses.