Bonds are debt securities that are usually issued by governments and corporations looking to raise capital for various projects. When governments issue bonds, they use them to fund public-interest projects. However, corporations tend to use the money raised to run their businesses for a profit.
Bonds vary in the way they work and build value. But they usually protect the capital, thus making them an excellent option for investors who have a low appetite for risk. Generally, the higher the quality of a bond, the lower the interest rate it offers and vice versa. Also, bonds with shorter maturity periods will offer lower interest rates since there is less risk associated with owning them.
Savings bonds are popular because they are usually backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government.
If you are interested in investing in these bonds, it would help to learn what your options are and how to calculate an approximate value on a savings bond.
Read More: Difference Between Stocks & Bonds
How Savings Bonds Work
The U.S. Department of Treasury issues savings bonds to raise money for its government projects. And while they are subject to federal taxes, they are exempt from local and state taxes, thus reducing your tax liability.
For Series I bonds, the interest rate is usually adjusted for inflation. Its interest rate is a combination of a fixed rate given at the time of issuance and an inflation rate adjusted twice yearly.
However, for current Series EE bonds, the rate is fixed at the time the bonds are issued, and they are usually issued at half of their face value. And then, they double in face value when 20 years of maturity pass.
You can buy the savings bonds electronically through the Treasury Direct website. You cannot resell these bonds in the secondary market. When you redeem a savings bond, you will receive the monthly interest income accrued, in addition to your principal.
You can redeem the bond early if you choose. But if you do so before five years have elapsed, you will lose three months of interest income.
Read More: Advantages & Disadvantages of Government Bonds
How to Calculate Savings Bonds Values Without Serial Numbers
Serial numbers on bonds are worth knowing because they can help you replace them when you lose them or they get damaged. In addition, they come in handy if you need to determine if they have been cashed or some payments are still due to you. However, you don’t need the number to calculate the savings bond value if you want to redeem it.
Below are tips on performing these calculations. Most concern paper bonds.
- Find your bonds. Find all your paper bonds. If you don’t have them anymore, use the serial numbers to look them up.
- Note the denominations. Determine and note down your paper bonds’ denomination, which could be anywhere up to $10,000. This limit represents the maximum value of savings bonds you can invest in per year per series.
- Note the issue dates. Determine and note down the issue date of the bond, which must be written in a MM/YYYY format. For example, if your bond was issued in April of 2020, you will write it as 04/2020.
- Note the series categories. Determine and note down the series category under which your paper bond falls. The chances are high that it is either a series EE or a series I bond. But you may also have savings notes or series E bonds whose values you may want to investigate to determine if some money is due to you.
- Determine if you want to store the information. If you want to store your savings bond information, you can also include your serial number. That way, the system will save that information so you can use it for future reference.
- Choose the date. Determine the date on which you want to determine the savings bond value using the MM/YYYY format. For example, if you want to estimate your paper bond’s value as of January 2022, you should note it as 01/2022.
- Calculate. Include all the relevant details on the savings bond calculator on the TreasuryDirect.Gov website and press “calculate.” It will provide you with an approximate value on a savings bond.
Example of Savings Bond Calculation
Suppose you invested $5,000 in an EE series bond issued in April 2015 and want to know its estimated value as of January 2020. In that case, when you include the relevant details, you will discover that your bond is worth $2,526, and it has earned $26 worth of interest.
On the other hand, for a series I bond worth $10,000 issued in April 2000, the estimated value as of January 2022 is $33,508.
The Treasury Department’s online calculator enables you to calculate several savings bonds values and view their estimated value on one page. So, you can compare your investments to see how much money is due to you in total if you were to redeem your bonds at the current time.
- Enter the issue date using the month and year as in 07/1999 for July 1999.
- You can calculate the value of several bonds, one after the other, and the results for all the bonds will remain listed on the screen. If you are not sure of the bond issue date, use this feature to calculate the savings bond value over a range of months.
- Series E and EE bonds are sold for one-half of the denomination value. For example, a $500 series EE bonds costs $250 and will grow in value from the initial cost. Unless the bond is close to 20 years old, the calculated value of an EE bond will be less than the denomination value.
I hold a BS in Computer Science and have been a freelance writer since 2011. When I am not writing, I enjoy reading, watching cooking and lifestyle shows, and fantasizing about world travels.