Christmas Trees and Savings Bonds

Christmas tree and cat
Puffies the cat survives a bout with curiosity.

We got our Christmas tree a little earlier than usual this year. As we often do, we bought it from the lot run by the local Optimist International chapter.

As we were decorating it, my son and I reminisced about the time when he won first place in a safety poster competition sponsored by this same group. He was in second grade at the time.  He’d chipped his top front teeth in a playground mishap not long before, and a photo of his damage teeth played a prominent role as he advised kids to slow down and use caution when climbing.

As we laughed about it, a thought occurred to me. “You won a savings bond for that,” I told him.

He said, “Oh, yeah. I had forgotten about it.”

“I had, too,” I said. “I haven’t thought about it in a long time.”

There was a pregnant pause as significant looks were exchanged. My son is now 21 and could use a few extra dollars. I told him I was confident it had to be in the house somewhere. I would see if I could find it.

Guess what! That’s right –chicken butt. Also, I found the $50 savings bond in a folder of his old school papers. It was issued in 2006, a few days after his eighth birthday.

As far as I can remember, it’s the only government savings bond I have ever touched. I had never really researched them. I had a vague idea you had to keep them for a long while before they were worth the full amount. Ten years maybe? Ten years seemed like it had to be right. We looked it up.

It’s twenty. Twenty years! You can cash them in after one year, but the longer you wait, the more they’re worth, until they mature to the full amount, where they sit static, no longer drawing interest. The U.S. Treasury Department has an online calculator that will give you the value of your bond. My son’s is currently worth $41.12.

I asked him if it was worth it to wait six and a half years to earn another $8.88. He immediately started calculating for inflation and told me it would be a wash if he held onto it until he was 28 in order to earn the $1.37 per year interest. He is like me in that he tends to save more than spend. But I’m pretty sure he’s going to cash it in before the end of the year.

If you, Dear Reader, would like extra holiday cash to come your way, sharing this post as if it were an old-fashioned chain letter will do nothing for you. But I hope you enjoyed the anecdote and that good things come your way. Enjoy the season!



Wedging in Holiday Traditions – Christmas Tree Edition

As my kids get older, the calendar only gets more challenging. We still want the same family holiday traditions, but it takes more planning. For instance, we always buy a Christmas tree from the nearby Optimist Club lot. It’s a mere five-minute drive from  our house. Easy peasy, right? Until we start looking at schedules.

We definitely wanted to get it done this past weekend, so we’d have time to enjoy the tree before it came back down. We couldn’t go Friday evening, because my husband had to work late. I was scheduled to work all day Saturday. Then my daughter had a thing Saturday evening. Sunday, I’d promised to buy some supplies for my mom and take them over in the afternoon. And there was a meeting I needed to attend in the evening. Meantime, my son had a collaborative homework project he had to schedule with some other kids.

I looked up the hours for the Christmas tree lot and discovered it opened at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday. There it was – our time slot. Arrive at 10:00, 15 minutes to look over the selections and make a choice, whole thing decorated by noon, and we had time to get our other stuff done. My daughter even dialed up an internet Christmas music station for us so we could listen to carols as we hung the ornaments.