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