Q&A: How to cash savings bonds for children

Dear Liz: My son is trying to cash in his children’s savings bonds, which seems to be difficult. You used to be able to go to a bank to do that. Is that still possible? If not, how can you do it now?

Answer: If the bonds were electronic, they probably would be held in a special minor’s account at TreasuryDirect.gov, the government site that allows investors to buy and redeem Treasury securities. If your son was identified as the person to have authority over the account, it would be relatively easy for him to redeem them.

We’ll assume, then, that your son is dealing with paper bonds. We’ll further assume that your grandchildren are still minors and that your son is cashing these bonds for their benefit, rather than his own. Many banks are leery of cashing children’s bonds precisely because parents (or people posing as parents) may be trying to rip off their kids.

Parents are allowed to redeem a child’s paper saving bond if the child lives with that parent and is too young to sign the request for payment, according to TreasuryDirect. The parent should write the following on the back of the bond:

“I certify that I am the parent of [child’s name]. [Child’s name] resides with me / I have been granted legal custody of [child’s name]. [She / he] is ___ years old and is not of sufficient understanding to make this request.” Your son should find a bank willing to certify or guaranty his signature. Then, in the presence of the bank representative, he must sign the request with his name “on behalf of [child’s name].”

Then he can send them to Treasury Retail Securities Site, PO Box 214, Minneapolis, MN 55480-0214. If the bonds are electronic, he can log into TreasuryDirect.com and follow the instructions there. Your son can contact the U.S. Treasury at (844) 284-2676 for further details.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Learn the truth about overdraft fees and save money. Also in the news: Beware the Dead Cat Bounce (and other stock market jargon), students breathe easy on the tax bill, and what will be more (and less) expensive in 2018.

Learn the Truth About Overdraft Fees — and Save Money
Looking at alternatives.

Beware the Dead Cat Bounce (and Other Stock Market Jargon)
Learning the language of Wall Street.

Students Breathe Easy on Tax Bill but Other Battles Loom
A momentary reprieve.

What will be more (and less) expensive in 2018
Travel prices are going up.

Would a bank payday loan be any safer?

A “safer” payday loan sounds like an oxymoron. Critics have branded these notoriously high-cost loans as debt traps that cause borrowers to go ever deeper in the hole.

Thanks to a recent regulatory change, it now may be possible for banks to offer small, short-term loans that could be a lot less dangerous for borrowers. Whether banks will actually do so remains to be seen.

The right moves could save low- and moderate-income Americans billions of dollars a year. The wrong moves could create yet another sinkhole for those who are already struggling. In my latest for the Associated Press, how to avoid falling into the payday loan trap.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: When good money advice is bad for you. Also in the news: Loyalty program overload, 4 ways socially responsible banks are good for you and your wallet, and why we stress spend during the holidays.

When Good Money Advice Is Bad for You
One size does not fit all.

Loyalty Program Overload? Here’s How to Stay Focused
Making the programs work for you.

4 Ways Socially Responsible Banks Are Good for You and Your Wallet
When your money supports a mission.

Why we stress spend during the holidays — and how to stop
Curbing impulse behavior during the holidays.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Confusion about overdraft coverage can cost you dearly. Also in the news: 3 reasons why college students need to submit the FAFSA every year, appealing your flood insurance claim denial, and opening a subaccount to save for an epic vacation.

Confusion About Overdraft Coverage Can Cost You Dearly
Don’t pay the bank for access to your own money.

3 Reasons College Students Need to Submit the FAFSA Every Year
Financial circumstances change.

Flood Insurance Claim Denied? Don’t Panic; Appeal
Take a deep breath.

Open a Subaccount to Save for That Epic Vacation
Get the details.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 5 debt questions you’re afraid to ask. Also in the news: The best accounts for short-term savings, the 10 most-stolen cars and the cost of theft insurance, and what happens when your bank loses a cash deposit.

5 Debt Questions You’re Afraid to Ask
We have the answers.

Best Accounts for Short-Term Savings
It depends on your timeline.

The 10 Most-Stolen Cars and the Cost of Theft Insurance
Is yours on the list?

What Happens When Your Bank Loses a Cash Deposit
Keep copies of everything.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Three student loan risks parent borrowers should avoid. Also in the news: Why you don’t have to be rich to feel good about your money, how second chance checking reopens doors to banking, and the lazy person’s guide to travel hacking.

3 Student Loan Risks Parent Borrowers Should Avoid
Be careful.

You Don’t Have to Be Rich to Feel Good About Your Money
You don’t need fancy cars and mansions.

Second Chance Checking Reopens Doors to Banking
Bringing back customers.

The Lazy Person’s Guide to Travel Hacking
Rack up miles without becoming obsessive.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How to read the fine print on credit card offers. Also in the news: Mistakes to avoid if you want your student loans forgiven, how to switch brokers and move your investments, and three retirement savings strategiess to use if you plan to retire early.

How to Read the Fine Print of Credit Card Offers
Paying close attention.

Want Your Student Loans Forgiven? Avoid These 4 Mistakes
Forgiveness is possible.

How to Switch Brokers and Move Your Investments
Big banking moves.

Three retirement savings strategies to use if you plan to retire early
Getting out as soon as you can.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 401(k) mistakes for new grads to avoid. Also in the news: 6 financial questions you’re too embarrassed to ask, why you should scatter your bank accounts, and 5 facts that prove Americans don’t know anything about managing money.

New Grads, Don’t Make These 401(k) Mistakes
Plan carefully.

6 Financial Aid Questions You’re Too Embarrassed to Ask
We’ve got answers.

Why You Should Scatter Your Bank Accounts
Don’t keep it all in one place.

5 Facts that Prove Americans Don’t Know Anything about managing money
We need to get better at this.