Deciding when to cash in savings bonds can be a bit tricky if you have never dealt with them before. You could potentially cash them in at a number of different times and receive varying benefits. Here are a few things to consider about when to cash in a savings bond.
The one restriction that you do have on when you can cash in the savings bond is that you have to wait at least a year from the date that it is issued. You are free to cash it in any time after that.
Doubling the Value
United States savings bonds are guaranteed to double in value. Depending on when the bonds were issued, some double faster than others. However, they are guaranteed to at least double within 20 years of the date of purchase. If, through the regular course of business, the bonds did not double within 20 years, the United States Treasury would adjust the interest rates that are paid in the final year and double the value for you. Therefore, as long as the United States lasts 20 years beyond your bond's issue date, your money should double; in other words, this is a very safe investment.
Still Earning Interest
Although the bonds are guaranteed to double in 20 years, you do not necessarily have to cash them in at the 20-year mark. You could keep them beyond that 20 years and let them keep earning interest. United States savings bonds earn interest for a period of 30 years from the date that they are issued. Therefore, you could potentially get another 10 years of interest out of them before you cash them in. If you do not need the money and want to watch the value of the bonds continue to grow, you might as well leave them alone for a little longer. Depending on how much the Treasury is paying in interest at that point, it could amount to a nice profit for you during the extra time.
Since the bonds can be cashed in at any point after the first year, you need to assess your personal needs and investment goals to decide when to cash them in. Cashing the bonds in is simple and can be done at any bank. Therefore, if you need money for something, you can always take them and get the cash. Just understand that you are throwing away any interest that could have been made in the future.
Paying for a child's education with savings bonds is a popular investment method because of the incentive that the government provides. If you use savings bonds to do this, you do not have to pay taxes on the profit from the bond. Therefore, with this incentive in mind, you need to wait until the year that your child is ready for college to cash them in. The bonds have to be cashed in in the same year that the education expenses are incurred.