Saturday, February 6, 2010

Forgotten Money

Last weekend, I redeemed a savings bond left to me by my grandmother. My grandmother died last summer, and I never expected to receive anything, especially considering I was one of about eighteen grandkids. I was touched to find that she had put an EE savings bond in my name when I was only three years old. It kind of made me feel like she was still looking out for me.

I went to the U.S. federal government's Treasury website and downloaded a Savings Bond Wizard calculator, then entered in the bond number and amount to determine what the EE bond was worth. Goodness gracious! The bond's "face value" was $500, but it was actually valued at over $1600 after 30 years of 6.41% return.

Finding out that the bond was worth that much was like getting a message from my Grandma, or a sign from above (if one believes in such things). What did the sign say? It said, "Go ahead and buy that 75% efficient fireplace insert that you've been eyeing to heat and cook during ice storm and blizzard blackouts - especially since weather may be getting more severe and the electrical grid may be increasingly degraded in the next ten years." Thanks, Grandma.

It was simple to redeem the bond - I went to the bank with my ID and my marriage license (since the bond was in my maiden name), and walked up to the teller. Easy as that.

Do you have any savings bonds laying around in a file cabinet, drawer, or safety deposit box? People tend to lose track of these things over the years, especially as we move around the country, change banks, and never unpack that old paperwork from the boxes in the attic.

Maybe now is a good time to look in all the spots you've got paperwork stashed. If you find any bonds, check them out to see what they are worth. It might be much more than you think. And if the bonds are mature, you are no longer getting interest on it - so you might as well redeem it - perhaps to fund some crucial project you've been considering. Or to pay down debt, or maybe just to give you peace of mind that you have a financial cushion.

Happy hunting!

Disclaimer: I'm not a financial adviser and this should not be construed as financial advice.


Peak Oil Hausfrau said...

I almost forgot the disclaimer: this should not be construed as financial advice!

Wendy said...

That's cool! I don't have any savings bonds ... that I know of, but if I were to get such a windfall, I'd do exactly what you did - spend it on making my home more resilient to the coming economic and climatic fluctuations. We already have a woodstove, but a small windmill or solar generator ... or having a well dug ... would all be on my list ;).

And, frankly, if I'm going to take financial advice, it would be yours and not any of the "experts" whose advice will still be very much entrenched in the hope (based on nothing more than their belief that *it* won't get worse) that "things are going to get better."

Sharlene T. said...

I'm so sorry about your grandmother, but, what a delightful surprise. Found money is such a great way to spend without guilt. Thanks for sharing.

Ivy said...

That's awesome. But if you do find Savings Bonds, it's a good idea to check the Treasury site to see the value--I have a few that could be redeemed now, but are actually still maturing, so if you find that's the case, it might be worth hanging onto them.

Peak Oil Hausfrau said...

Ivy - Yes, that's what I did. No point in redeeming them (if you don't need the money) if you are going to put a 5% bond into a .4% savings account.

Shamba said...

Going through all your financial papers is a way of prepping, if not for the peak of finance just for yourself. One of the things I did in the past 2 years was go through all my financial papers to find out if I had any stray things like your bond.

I didn't find any "free money" but I know what i have now and in some cases made major decisions about other things to do with them. I.E., I pulled whatever I had in the stock market out!
peace to all,