Monday, April 13, 2009

Historians = bad money managers

Between taxes and other life events, I've had occasion to sit down and really assess my finances the past few weeks.

One part of my "portfolio" is U.S. Savings Bonds, which were my grandparents' financial gift of choice. When I was growing up, every birthday and holiday brought a $25 or $50 savings bond, with occasional larger denominations. My grandmother could buy a bond for half its face value, and if you let is sit long enough (I think 10 years or so), it would earn enough interest to surpass the face value - a nice return, though taxes ate a big chunk out of it.

The bonds helped pay portions (far from all, but some) of my college tuition, my first used car, my first new car, my computer and my house down payment.

Each purchase required assessing which bonds to use out of the ones I had left. There were two that I never wanted to touch, for history's sake - they were the oldest of the bunch, issued on the day I was born; my late great-grandfather's name was on them; and the issuing bank had changed names twice - the "Marine Bank" stamp made me nostalgic.

So now, after all these years, they are two of the last three bonds I have left (the other was issued a month after I was born, and was kept for some of the same reasons).

When I checked on their value today, I learned that they have matured and are no longer earning interest; the cutoff was 30 years. So now I'm left to wonder why I didn't cash them sooner, and instead keep some newer bonds that would have kept earning 3-4% interest for a few more years. I guess a love of history and proper money management might not go together all that well.

But what's done is done, and given that earning nothing is better than most investments these days, I'm going to salt them away for later. Some day, I'll pull them out, look at that day-I-was-born, old-bank-name stamp one more time, and sign them away.

1 comment:

Beverly said...

You could make a nice color copy of them to keep, if looking at them is something you enjoy.