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  • Archive for the ‘I Bonds’ Category

    Not your grandmother’s savings bonds: purchasing savings bonds electronically

    Friday, March 1st, 2013

    As highlighted in our last blog, savings bonds are still a great way to save. But how you purchase them is changing. Starting last year, the sale of paper bonds—the kind you used to be able to walk into a bank and purchase—were discontinued. You now have to purchase them electronically through the Treasury. This can take some know-how to get set up, and we’re here to help.

    The U.S. Treasury’s Bureau of the Public Debt (soon to be renamed Bureau of the Fiscal Services) operates an online account system in which U.S. citizens can invest in savings bonds, as well as marketable securities. The website is www.treasurydirect.govOutside of purchasing a savings bond through your tax filing, it is now the only way to purchase bonds. It can be a bit confusing, and the Bureau is planning an upgrade, but to help you now, here are some tips for setting up an account. Below is a picture of the home page, with a red arrow showing the link to “open an account.”

    Before you start, you need to have ready:

    An e-mail account, and be able to access it during the sign-up process. You will be sent your account number and one time passcode in separate e-mails after you complete the initial application.

    Your bank account number and the bank’s routing number—the money you use to purchase the bonds will be transferred from that account.

     

    Purchasing Savings Bonds once you’ve set up a Treasury Direct account

    Below is another screen shot of the home page with an arrow showing where you log in to your account.

    You will have to log into your account using the one-time passcode sent to you via e-mail.  If you are using your own computer and want to register it, check the box below where you enter the passcode, otherwise you will have to get a new passcode e-mailed to you every time you access your account.

    Once you have done that, you have to enter the password you created in the set-up process. You will then be taken to the Account Summary page; Click on the BuyDirect tab at the top of the page.

    There will be an assortment of Securities and Bonds listed; to purchase an I Bond, click Series I – an accrual-type security with a combination interest rate of a fixed and an inflation rate.

    You can set up automatic purchases (the “set and forget” kind of savings plan that is a sure way to build a nest egg) in the Purchase Frequency section.

    Happy Saving!

                           

    U.S. Savings Bonds: Still a Great Way to Save

    Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

    This week is America Saves Week, a national effort to focus on the importance of savings. As grandmother would say, “it is not how much you make that matters, it is how much you save.”

    One of the most “American” ways to build savings is through U.S. Savings Bonds. But most people think of them as old-fashioned—the birthday gift you got from your grandmother (and as a 10 year old, you thought booooring!) U.S. Bonds, however, are still a very good way to save, and the way you can purchase them is changing.

    An easy way to buy bonds now is from your tax refund. Using IRS form 8888, you can “split your refund” and use part or all of it to buy a U.S. I Bond. The I Bond is issued at face value, unlike other bonds you may remember. A $100 bond costs $100, and interest is added to that amount. Its rate is reset based on the inflation rate. This feature– interest adjusted based on inflation–is something financial money managers seek for high-dollar portfolios for a reason: while inflation has been low recently, it is an economic fact of life and it will eat away at your savings.

    The current I-bond rate (in effect until April 30, 2013) is 1.76%–try finding a CD at that rate! Plus, you can buy one for as little as $50. There are no fees, they are guaranteed, and if you need money for an emergency, you can cash it out after a year.

    To bring attention to this opportune time to buy a bond, there is a national sweepstakes being held called “Save Your Refund.” Through a very simple on-line application, if you buy a savings bond through your tax filing, you can enter a weekly drawing for $250 (five winners a week) AND be included in the $25,000 grand prize drawing on April 19, 2013. This makes buying a bond not only smart, but fun. Check it out at www.saveyourrefund.com 

    When you purchase a bond via your tax filing, a paper bond will be mailed to you. This is now the ONLY way to get a paper bond because in January 2012, the U.S. Treasury stopped issuing them. This means the old-fashioned savings plan has gone electronic, and you must create an account on TreasuryDirect.com to buy bonds. It is not as easy as walking into the bank to get a savings bond, but in our next post, we’ll walk you through how to become a saver via TreasuryDirect.

    It’s National Save For Retirement Week! Today’s Topic: Investing

    Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

     

    It’s National Save for Retirement Week 2012! A week dedicated to building knowledge and taking action toward securing your retirement. Each day this week we are going to look at a different contributing factor to retirement and help you increase your understanding of it so that you can take action and be prepared. Today we are looking at investing.

    You don’t have to have saved a lot of money to start investing, and you don’t have to be a financial guru to start making smart investment decisions. Some good, basic information can go a long way. Whether you have $25 or $2,500 to spare, there are smart ways to invest your money to build your retirement savings. Once you have money saved up, it can be hard to decide where to invest your funds in order to see the greatest returns. There are many options, including I Bonds, mutual funds, CDs and IRAs. To learn more about these options, read through WISER’s guide, “I’m Ready to Save, Now What?”

    Read over our Investment 101 fact sheet to get a feeling for the three basic places you can invest your money: cash, bonds and stocks. Want to better understand the difference between a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA? You can find that information here on the WISER Roth IRA fact sheet. Listen to our five-minute podcastsInvesting through Mutual Funds” and “Take Stock of Your Investment Options!” to learn more about mutual funds and how they work, as well as the difference between stocks, bonds, and cash investment options, and the investment risks that come with each. Also listen to our “Why How Long You Have until Retirement Matterspodcast to learn how your retirement horizon should play into your investment decisions.

    If you still want more information, peruse WISER’s Saving & Investing web page. And come back tomorrow when we go over the basics of money management to help you find even more ways to save.

     

     

    WISER

    About Us

    WISER is a nonprofit organization that works to help women, educators and policymakers understand the important issues surrounding women's retirement income. WISER creates a variety of consumer publications including fact sheets, booklets and a quarterly newsletter that explain in easy-to-understand language the complex issues surrounding Social Security, divorce, pay equity, pensions, savings and investments, banking, home-ownership, long-term care and disability insurance.

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