Last Updated Feb 5, 2010 11:44 AM EST
What are the best sources of information on savings bonds?
You can't rely on banks to answer your questions on savings bonds correctly, even if they handle them. The program is complex and the clerks may not be fully trained. You should go online to TreasuryDirect.gov or get information brochures to research the bonds yourself. The Bureau of the Public Debt answers questions, handles problems, and mails out forms.
For a question about paper savings bonds, call the Savings Bond Processing Site. There are two numbers: 800-245-2804 and 800-553-2663.
If you don't want to dig through all the numbers yourself, you can buy a personal savings bond report from SavingsBonds.com. It tells you about each bond you own — interest rate, current value, maturity date, and so on. If you're cashing bonds in, it will advise you on which ones to redeem first (those paying lower interest rates) and when to redeem them, to capture the final six-month interest payment. The Web site also contains plenty of free information.
You can get a similar report offline from the Savings Bond Informer at P.O. Box 11721, Monroe, MI 48161, or call 800-927-1901. If you want to look before you buy, the Informer will send you a free example.
I also recommend the Informer's valuable reference book on how the bond program works, U.S. Savings Bonds. It was published in 1999 but comes with an update on all the latest changes, strategies, and interest rates. Cost: $19.95.
Excerpted from Making the Most of Your Money Now by Jane Bryant Quinn
Copyright 1991, 1997, 2009, by Berrybrook Publishing, Inc. Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster, IncBuy the Book