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What Is a Patriot Bond and What Can You Do With It?

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

Savings bonds are intrinsically tied to American ideals, serving as a way for American citizens to grow and save their money while supporting the country.

They were originally conceived by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to help finance World War II. The Patriot Bond was created after the devastating attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

What is a Patriot Bond?

A Patriot Bond is a special paper Series EE savings bond created in direct response to the terrorist attacks of September 11. Sold from December 2001 through December 2011, the bond provided a tangible way for Americans to support the country’s reaction to the attacks, as proceeds from the bonds went to an anti-terrorism government fund. A Patriot Bond can be identified by the words “Patriot Bond” printed at the top, in between the owner’s Social Security number and the date the bond was issued.

While the bond may have a unique name, it functions like a standard EE paper savings bond. The bond could be purchased for between $25 and $10,000. It was government-backed, making it a low-risk option for Americans to grow their money.

Each bond was assigned a fixed interest rate that guaranteed the bond would grow in value over time. And just like Series EE savings bonds today, Patriot Bonds could be purchased for a variety of uses, such as saving for retirement, growing a college fund or simply to give as a gift. The Patriot Bond was discontinued in 2012 when the Treasury switched to electronic bonds.

Can I redeem a Patriot Bond if I have one today?

The short answer is yes. While EE bonds typically cannot be redeemed until after 12 months has passed from the date of purchase, the last Patriot Bond was printed well beyond that time frame, making it eligible for redemption. But there are some things to consider before heading to your bank to redeem it.

Ken Tumin, founder of DepositAccounts — which, like MagnifyMoney, is owned by LendingTree — said there are a few conditions you need be aware of before redeeming. Patriot Bonds mature in the same fashion as an EE savings bond, which means they earn interest every year for 30 years. So the longer you have the bond, the more it will be worth. Once the bond hits the 30-year mark, the bond stops accruing interest and reaches maturity, making it the perfect time to redeem.

Tumin said Patriot Bonds, as well as all Series EE bonds, are guaranteed to double in value after 20 years, but you might not need to wait so long. “If someone got a Patriot Bond in 2002, interest rates were much higher back then, so [the bond] could have doubled already,” he said.

If your bond has not yet fully matured, it may be in your best interest to convert it to an electronic bond, which will be helpful if you lose or damage a paper one. TreasuryDirect.gov — part of the  U.S. Department of the Treasury Bureau of the Fiscal Service — has a feature called SmartExchange that can convert your paper bonds into electronic bonds. Electronic bonds are much more efficient when compared to paper bonds. They can be redeemed anytime through the Treasury’s website, as well as transferred easily to another owner.

How do I redeem my bond, and can I take it all?

If you are interested in redeeming your Patriot Bond, you can head to almost any bank to exchange it for cash. In general, paper bonds come with no limitations on how much of the bond’s value you can redeem at once, but some banks may have their own restrictions.

A Patriot Bond can also be redeemed through the Treasury Retail Securities Services. To redeem this way, you must have a certifying officer from a local bank certify your signature on the back of the bond. Once certified, you must then mail the bonds, your Social Security number and the Treasury’s direct deposit form to Treasury Retail Securities Services.

I have a Series I savings bond. Do I cash this in differently?

While Patriot Bonds were printed as Series EE savings bonds, you may be in the possession of a Series I bond. The value of a Series I bond is determined differently since part of the bond’s interest rate is based on inflation (thus the “I” in the name).

Tumin said the bond is first assigned a fixed interest rate that stays with the bond over its lifetime. Then, the bond is given an inflation rate. The inflation rate changes every six months in accordance with the inflation rate, which the Treasury announces on the first business day every May and November. The fixed rate and inflation rates are combined when determining the overall value of the bond.

Just like the EE bonds, an I bond can be cashed 12 months after the date of purchase. The bond also reaches full value maturity after 30 years.

How can I find out how much my Patriot Bond is worth?

Determining the worth of your Patriot Bond is pretty easy.

TreasuryDirect has a simple calculator you can use to find out the value of the bond. You can also use the calendar to see the expected value of the bond in the years to come, which will help determine when you would like to redeem the bond.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Ben Moore
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Ben Moore is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Ben here

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How Important Is It to Have a Rainy Day Fund?

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

rainy day fund
Be prepared for the unexpected with a rainy day fund.

Life is unpredictable, which is why a rainy day fund is one of the most important components of a sound financial foundation. Even the most prepared, organized people can be caught off guard and put into a difficult financial situation when the unexpected arises. Because of this, it’s essential to have money tucked away in an emergency fund and a rainy day fund. While most people would agree that having easy-to-access cash is important, 29% of households have less than $1,000 in savings, according to a recent MagnifyMoney study.

In this post, we’ll explain exactly what a rainy day fund is, how much you should save and how to start one today.

What is a rainy day fund?

Rainy day fundEmergency fund
Money set aside for predictable expenses, like a roof repair or trip to the mechanic. Money set aside for unpredictable, and unplanned for expenses such as job loss, divorce or a sudden change in income.

Often, the terms rainy day fund and emergency fund are used interchangeably. While they are both savings accounts that can be used to pay for the unexpected, they differ in a few key areas. It’s important to learn the difference between the two types of savings accounts and contribute to both.

A rainy day fund is a designated amount of money that has been set aside for one-off expenses that you can typically predict the need to pay for at some point. Rainy day funds should be easily accessible and used to cover expenses that fall outside of your normal budget. This fund can be used to pay for things like car or house repairs, broken appliances, additional taxes, children’s field-trip fees, or last-minute travel expenses. While these expenses are usually not part of your monthly budget, you could likely anticipate the need to pay for them once or twice a year. So, a rainy day fund comes in handy.

“The number one reason to have a rainy day fund is peace of mind,” said Corbin T. Green a financial advisor in Salt Lake City. “People are able to go to bed knowing that if something were to happen, there are funds available to take care of that.”

This fund allows you to pay for smaller, one-off expenses without going into debt or pulling from your checking account and throwing off your well-planned budget that is used to pay for predictable monthly bills and expenses.

An emergency fund is exactly what it sounds like—a reserve of money or savings account that you can quickly access in case of an unexpected and unplanned life emergency. Typically, emergency funds are used to pay for unexpected, longer-term events such as medical bills, job loss or divorce.

“If something were to happen where you got laid off, left a job or got injured, having an emergency fund protects you and buys some time,” Green said.

Experts suggest having three to six months’ worth of money in this account that you could easily access and use to run your household and pay your monthly bills in the case of an emergency.

How to save for your rainy day fund

rainy day fund side gig
Consider taking on a side gig to bring in extra cash for your rainy day fund.

It can seem daunting to put extra money away each month, but saving money is a key part of smart financial planning. We know it’s important to save for your rainy day fund, but how do you get started? Here are some easy ways to save more money each month:

  • Create multiple savings accounts: Instead of lumping all your money into one savings account, create multiple savings accounts to help you distinguish between the emergency fund and the rainy day fund. If you ever need to access either of these accounts, you’ll know which one to pull from.
  • Automate your savings: It’s easy to say you’ll put extra money into your savings account at the end of each month once bills are paid. But, if you don’t pay yourself first, at the end of the month, you likely won’t have saved what you originally intended. By automating your savings, you’ll automatically have money set aside each month and won’t have to worry about it. Treat your savings as a bill and pay it automatically, on time, each month.
  • Reduce your spending: Money saved is money earned. If you’re looking to save for a rainy day fund, try trimming your spending and adding a little more each week or month to your fund. Cut back on eating out or your daily coffee run and put that money towards your fund.
  • Take on a side hustle: Many millennials are taking on additional work or side hustles as a way to earn more money. If your full-time salary isn’t cutting it, consider taking on a side hustle as a way to quickly boost up your rainy day fund.

Where to keep your rainy day fund

rainy day fund
The best place to stash your rainy day fund is in a savings account, where you can easily access the money in a time of need.

Now that you’ve built up some money for your rainy day fund, where should you keep that money? You want to find a safe place to store your money that gives you easy access to the funds in a pinch but can also allow you to earn interest on your funds.

The best options

Saving accounts: A savings account is a no-brainer when you’re looking for a place to stash your rainy day fund. Savings accounts are FDIC insured and offer better interest rates than checking accounts. Check out the best savings accounts here.

Money markets:Money markets are a type of account that usually offer higher interest rates than checking or savings accounts. You can access more money relatively easy, but money market accounts may limit the number of withdrawals each month. Also, most money market accounts require a minimum balance to be met.

Avoid these options

Checking accounts. Checking accounts probably aren’t the best option for your rainy day fund. They give you quick, easy access to your money, but often offer low, if any, interest. You may also be more tempted to spend the cash if it’s readily accessible in your checking account and you’ve got a linked debit card you can use.

CDs.CDs often charge early withdrawal penalties when you try to cash them out before your term is up. Since emergencies are unpredictable, avoid locking your rainy day fund up in a CD. Stick to accounts that offer easy access like a savings account.

What to spend your rainy day fund on

rainy day fund
A home repair or unexpected medical bill are two examples of a good time to dip into your rainy day fund.

Rainy day funds are usually not used to cover ongoing, long-term, emergency events. “If it’s a true emergency, it’s usually not a materialistic expense,” said Green.

Rainy day funds can be spent on things like car repairs, new tires, and emissions and inspections. Or perhaps you need a new washing machine, fridge, roof or floor? Rainy day funds are meant for such expenses. Most people wouldn’t budget for a new roof because it’s a one-off expense. However, it’s somewhat predictable that you’ll have to repair your car or home at some point, so this type of fund is the perfect financial resource for occasions like this.

However, if you lose your job, become sick or are unable to work for a sustained period of time, you would not use your rainy day fund, but instead, pull from your emergency fund.

“Use your emergency fund when something impacts your ability to earn a paycheck or you lose your income and need to use it [emergency fund] to pay your bills and live off of it,” Green said.

Why a rainy day fund is important

rainy day fund

Change is the only predictable thing in life. It’s almost inevitable that something unplanned will occur requiring additional money to pay for it. Knowing this, it’s smart to plan ahead and prepare for the unexpected. Having a rainy day fund is important because it gives you peace of mind and financial protection in case something happens. This type of fund is extra padding in your budget that can keep you out of debt and on track financially, no matter what unexpected life event unfolds.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Sage Evans
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Sage Evans is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Sage here

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5 Reasons You Want to Keep a Secret Bank Account From Your Partner

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

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Even partners in the healthiest relationships may question whether or not to keep a financial account or evidence of poor financial habits a secret from their significant other. Money can be a sensitive subject to discuss, and some people find the temptation to keep a secret bank account irresistible when the alternative means an honest talk about a loved one’s spending or saving habits. But for anyone thinking of taking a covert trip to the bank, you first need to think long and hard about why you want to set up a hidden bank account, and whether your situation warrants all of the hassle that comes with keeping secret finances.

How common are secret bank accounts?

It’s difficult to pin down exactly how many Americans are harboring secret bank accounts from their spouses, but it’s more common than you probably think. A 2016 survey of newlyweds by credit reporting agency Experian revealed 16% of those who just tied the knot hide a financial account from their partner, and 31% of people who combined finances with a significant other have lied to their partner about finances, according to a poll from The National Endowment for Financial Education.

Similar to a romantic affair, the reasons for a person lying about a secret bank account can vary, but one common factor is an atmosphere of discomfort around discussing finances and a fear of being judged poorly by their partner.

“It’s such a taboo subject to talk about,” said Dr. Maggie Baker, psychologist and financial therapist practicing in the Philadelphia area and author of the book Crazy About Money.

When people with incompatible spending and saving habits intertwine their lives, one half of the couple—usually the one who likes to spend—may find it easier to squirrel away some cash in a hidden checking account, where it can be used to indulge splurges away from the prying eyes of their more frugal partner.

The other noteworthy reason spouses hide money from another partner involves not spending, but saving. Broadly speaking, spouses who find themselves financially dependent on their partner may want to maintain a sense of independence by having money in an account under their own name, but don’t feel comfortable enough to do so out in the open.

Reasons you want to keep an account secret, not just separate

Having a separate account of your own money in a marriage doesn’t have to be a clandestine operation. A TD Bank survey found that 42% of couples who were either married or cohabiting also maintained a separate bank account, despite having joint accounts with their partner. And you retain sole ownership of a separate account despite your marital status—your spouse just can’t walk into your bank and demand access or information about your account just because you put a ring on it. But given the amount of people hiding secret bank accounts from their spouse, there are certain situations where it’s tempting to keep an undisclosed stash of cash.

You’re embarrassed of your spending. Nearly half of married people (47%) say they and their partner don’t share the same spending habits, according to a survey conducted by SunTrust Bank. To avoid arguments over whether it’s worth spending more than $1,000 from the joint checking account for a new iPhone, it may be easier for you to set up your own separate account to use for those “must-have” purchases. This doesn’t need to be a secret, but the mere existence of an account created for the sole purpose of what your spouse considers frivolous spending might prompt you to keep it a secret.

You want to keep your financial independence without feeling pressure. Millennials are more likely than previous generations to keep finances separate after walking down the aisle, pointing to a trend of greater financial independence for members of married couples. Maintaining a source of funds in your own name doesn’t have to be a secret, but if your spouse knows about it, he or she may lean on you to dip into it during tough times. If you’re uncomfortable saying “no,” you may want to avoid disclosing the existence of these accounts in the first place.

Your spouse can’t be trusted with money. A more serious version of the scenario above is where you spouse has an out-of-control spending problem (like a gambling addiction) and, in addition to clearing out any joint accounts you share, will demand you give up your own money to fuel their reckless habits. A spouse displaying abusive or threatening behavior is one of the few situations where you’re completely justified in keeping any accounts in your own name secret in order to protect yourself.

You see divorce on the horizon. If your marriage is starting to look like a dress rehearsal of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? it may behoove you to start setting aside some money in your own name to prepare for a separation. Depending on the nature of the divorce and your own financial circumstances, you may need to save a large enough amount to cover not only legal fees, but also living without the income your partner earned. While you don’t have to keep this a secret, alerting your spouse you’ve begun to build a war chest could cause him or her to start making things difficult for you, such as clearing out joint accounts upon which you rely.

You’re planning an elaborate surprise. A favorable situation for keeping a secret bank account from your spouse is that you need to make purchases for a surprise vacation and don’t want the risk of your other half seeing the statements on your joint accounts.

Is the secret worth it?

All in all, most reasons you could think of for keeping a secret bank account from your spouse could be just as easily solved with a separate, non-secret bank account. While this means you and your partner will need to have a frank discussion about finances, more honesty almost always benefits the relationship (unless you’re being asked “do I look fat in this” or “am I going bald?”). By being upfront now and avoiding financial infidelity, you’ll save yourself a ton of stress and maybe even strengthen your bond with the person you love.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

James Ellis
James Ellis |

James Ellis is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email James here

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