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Savings Bonds have become dauntingly cumbersome

Published: May 6, 2012

Dear Mr. Berko: I'm 41 years old and I have 17 $1,000 U.S. Savings Bonds given to me over the years by my grandparents (who have passed away) to celebrate various milestones in my life like my 10th, 16th and 21st birthdays, high school and college graduation, my Master's degree, marriage, and other events.

Two of them have come due. So I took them to our bank, where we have our checking account, got our home mortgage, our car loans, our CDs, our credit cards, our IRAs and a business loan and they insisted on charging a $25 for each redemption. I complained but paid the charges, telling the snippy bank officer that I was offended by the charge considering all the business we have given this bank.

She told me that they and other banks no longer purchase Savings Bonds for customers and basically we could like it or lump it.

Over the past dozen years, my husband and I have followed my grandparents' tradition of giving U.S. Savings Bonds (in much smaller denominations) to family members who have reached milestones in their lives. Because we believe Savings Bonds are meaningful, less tacky than giving cash or buying a gift that will probably be returned, we would appreciate your recommendation of a bank, an S&L or credit union in our Fort Walton Beach area that can help us continue this tradition.

— WS in Fort Walton Beach.

Dear WS: That $50 charge is perfidious and obscene. Today, many banks have morphed into armies of giant, marauding vampire bats that suck blood plasma from the necks of depositors to nourish their balance sheets. And like service stations (an oxymoron) that charge its customers for water and air, it won't be long before banksters install pay toilets to improve their bottom lines.

Savings Bonds strike an emotional cord with me. I recall when Abbot & Costello, Judy Garland, Bugs Bunny, John Wayne, Mickey Rooney and Walter Cronkite encouraged millions of Americans to buy Savings Bonds at their neighborhood banks — and we did for over 75 years. It was a solid comfort to hold those beautifully engraved pieces of art in your hands, running your fingers on the raised print. No more. But I enjoy my unique collection of U.S. Savings Bonds with various Walt Disney figures, some with Al Cap's Lil Abner, Schmoos and his comic book characters and still others commemorating the U.S. exploration of outer space. Well, those Norman Rockwell days are gone, and last January, the purchase of U.S. Savings Bonds officially morphed into an “all electronic” platform.

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