In a world where you are lucky to earn 1% on your savings, the federal government is offering a risk-free return of more than 7%.
For the next six months, the rate on Series I savings bonds — which earn interest based on both a fixed rate and a variable inflation-based rate — will be 7.12%, the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced Nov. 1. The fixed rate will be 0%, but the inflation-based rate will be 7.12%.
The recent surge in inflation has pushed returns on Series I savings bonds, also known as “I bonds,” to relatively dizzying heights. But before you cash in, there are some important things to keep in mind.
For starters, remember that the 7.12% rate is only good for the first six months you own the bonds.
Each year, the federal government sets rates for I bonds on May 1 and Nov. 1. So, on May 1, 2022, the inflation-based rate will reset for another six months. That rate could be higher or lower than the present rate, depending on what happens to inflation.
The fixed rate applies for the 30-year interest-bearing life of the bond. So, if you buy an I bond between now and the end of April, the fixed rate will be 0% for the next 30 years.
Series I bond interest accrues monthly and compounds semiannually.
Also, you can only purchase $10,000 worth of electronic I bonds during a calendar year in most cases. You can purchase an additional $5,000 in paper I bonds as well, but only if you use your federal income tax refund to do so.
Finally, you cannot redeem your I bonds for a period of one year. And if you cash them before they are 5 years old, you will forfeit three months’ worth of interest.
Series I bonds earn interest for 30 years. You can either pay the taxes on this interest every year or defer the taxes until you cash the bond. You typically can avoid paying taxes altogether if you use the bonds for higher education expenses.
At a time of high-flying stock returns, buying bonds can seem a bit stodgy. But as Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson has said, I bonds are a good investment for multiple reasons. For more on Stacy’s take, check out “Should I Buy Inflation Bonds?”
Unsure if you have the right mix of savings and investments? Stop by Money Talks News’ Solutions Center and find a fee-only financial planner.
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