I have four $100 (face value) Series EE savings bonds sitting in my safe right now. Every time I open up my safe and peek at them, I would wonder what they were worth and whether that money could be put to better use somewhere else, but then I’d just close the safe and not think about it.
Today, I opened up my safe and examined the four bonds, then headed off to Treasury Direct to see what they were worth. Here’s the data:
One EE bond, worth $51.20 if I cashed it in right now, earning 3.2% interest.
Two EE bonds, worth $51.36 each if I cashed them in right now, earning 3.2% interest.
One EE bond, worth $51.84 if I cashed it in right now, earning 3.5% interest.
A total value of $205.56, with $5.56 in interest year to date.
Right now, I’m only on the hook for $5.56 in taxable income with them, which is trivial, of course. These numbers do include the three month penalty for cashing in early.
So, is it worth it to crack the bonds now and put the money in a high-interest savings account? The earnings benefits are pretty obvious: I would earn roughly an extra dollar per year by cracking them now and putting the money into ING or HSBC. The bonds are arguably a more stable investment, since their interest rate is locked in, plus they’re easy to just forget about and sit on if they just sit in the safe.
My feeling is that at this point in my life and given what I’ve learned about investing and money management recently, I’m better off if I cash in the bonds, pay the small tax amount, then put the money into a high-yield savings account. This is not to say that savings bonds aren’t a great gift for young people, but with young people they are a tool to teach about stable long-term investing. For me right now, I think I’m better off earning more. Comments are very welcome here.