All about the Savings Bond Guru
Tuesday, July 5th, 2005
Categorized as: Current value of a US Savings Bond
If you have just a couple of Savings Bonds and you want to know what they’re worth or what interest rate they’re earning, you can find out in a few seconds using my own US Savings Bonds Calculator.
If you’re a true Savings Bond investor, on the other hand, my simple calculator is pretty limited. Its big problem is that when you return next time, you’ll have to re-enter all your Savings Bonds. For a couple of bonds this isn’t a big deal, but for lots of bonds it’s a problem.
The Treasury offers two ways to find out the current redemption value and interest rates of your Savings Bonds. One is online and the other is downloadable software for Windows computers.
The Treasury’s online Savings Bond Calculator is a bit more sophisticated than mine, but not much. Where mine will show you only today’s redemption value and interest rate for a Savings Bond, the Treasury’s allows you to enter other valuation dates. And it offers some footnotes about some of your bonds. But there’s still no obvious way to save your bond data for next time.
If saving your bond data for next time is a feature you need, you have two choices.
The Treasury’s Savings Bond Wizard software saves the data about your bonds in a file on your computer. But to use it you have to have a Windows computer, you have to download and install it, and every six months you have to update it with new Savings Bond data from the Treasury’s Savings Bond web site. If your computer crashes, you lose your data. If you change computers, you have to move your files.
The Savings Bond Guru is online software that automatically saves your data for next time. Instead of the footnotes the Treasury’s products use, the Guru color codes the bonds that need your attention. Like the other three programs, you can use it for free, but after 14 days you have to buy a subscription to keep your account open.
Why would I recommend that you pay for something the Treasury offers for free? Basically, because you get what you pay for.
The Savings Bond Guru has a major feature all the other products lack – it emails you a monthly statement about your Savings Bond portfolio. The Treasury never sends you anything equivalent to what banks, mutual funds, and brokers send out on a monthly basis. I think of the Guru fee as a very inexpensive way to get this service.
In addition, the Guru backs up your data. You don’t have to worry about losing it when you change computers. You don’t have to update it with new Savings Bond data every six months. It’s all automatic. All you have to do is remember – and protect – your password.
It’s a lot easier to sign up for the Savings Bond Guru than to download and install the Treasury’s Wizard. You have to fill out a little form with your email address, password, name, and zip code, but it takes just a few seconds to begin entering your Savings Bonds and seeing what they’re worth.
If you do try out the Savings Bond Guru, tell them you found out about their web site from Tom Adams.
Feel free to comment below on your experiences with any of these Savings Bond calculators.