During World War II, one of the things grade school students looked forward to was stamp day, when, clutching a dime or two, they purchased U.S. savings stamps.
It was patriotic to purchase savings stamps, our parents told us, to help the war effort. And besides, after you filled up a stamp book with 10-cent stamps and gave another nickel, making a total of $18.75, the book could be exchanged for a savings bond that could be redeemed in 10 years for $25.What happened to the savings stamps? Don't grade school students save money? Aren't they patriotic? Nick Rodriguez, area manager for the U.S. Savings Bond Division of the U.S. Treasury Department, which is directing the current savings bond campaign in Utah and southern Idaho, provides the answers.
Rodriguez said the school savings stamp program disappeared because the schools can no longer provide the personnel to sell the stamps. And, because there is no war, Americans don't think much about "war bonds."
In addition to savings stamps being a thing of the past, savings bonds in $25 denominations are also gone. And effective last February, the people who have been enrolled in their payroll savings plan can continue buying bonds in $50 and $75 denominations; otherwise it's $100 denominations only.
Rodriguez said bonds in $50 and $75 denominations can be purchased over the counter at financial institutions. The purchase price is 50 percent of the face value.
Operating as a one-person office, Rodriguez spends much of his time pushing payroll savings plans through businesses, on the premise that if a deduction is made through a paycheck, the person saves and doesn't miss the money.
In the World War II days, the interest rate on savings bonds was fixed and many people didn't seem to mind because it was done in the name of patriotism. But in recent years, to compete with other savings programs, savings bonds were given a flexible interest rate.
Rodriguez said the interest on Series EE bonds purchased before Nov. 1, 1982, and held five years or longer is 85 percent of the average return on five-year Treasury marketable securities during the holding period, rounded to the nearest quarter percent and compounded semiannually.
Bonds purchased through October 1986 are guaranteed to earn a minimum of 7.17 percent when held at least five years. Bonds purchased after Nov. 1, 1986, have a minimum rate of 6 percent when held at least five years.
Rodriguez said bonds redeemed before being held five years earn interest on a fixed, graduated scale. Series E and EE bonds and saving notes purchased before Nov. 1, 1982, are eligible for market-based rates if held to their interest-accrual date occurring five years after the start of the market-based interest program.
Interest on EE bonds accrues through periodic increases in redemption value and is payable when a bond is cashed. The redemption value reflects the principal amount plus interest accrued during the holding period, Rodriguez said.
Series EE bonds become eligible for redemption six months after issue. Interest on HH bonds is paid semiannually by check directly to the bond holder, he said.
One of Rodriguez' main pitches on savings bonds is that they are guaranteed by the U.S. government and if lost, stolen, mutilated or destroyed, they will be replaced free and have the original issue date.