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In the past, it was common to give saving bonds as gifts. Often they were given when a new child was born. I know some grandparents that would give them to all of their grandchildren each Christmas. The idea being that it would have more lasting value that the latest Furby or toy.

You probably didn’t realize it, but during the last year, Scrooge got a job at the US Treasury department. Scrooge wants all kids to get a lump of coal or a bag of switches. He does NOT want any kids getting saving bonds.

The report is in and Scrooge was successful in his mission. The treasury discontinued “paper” savings bonds you could buy from a bank. The only way to buy them is on-line. USA today has the story.[1]

Saving money for nieces, nephews and grandkids used to be as simple as showing up at the bank to buy a U.S. Savings Bond.

But now that you can't buy bonds at banks, some fiscally focused grandparents aren't going to be happy.

"It's just not easy to give an electronic bond," said Mckayla Braden, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Treasury's Bureau of Public Debt.

Savers must go through a complicated online system to buy digital bonds.

Many folks are simply frustrated. "They're saying, 'I don't think so, ' " said Daniel Pederson, who blogs about Savings Bond issues at The Savings Bond Informer.

To buy a bond online, you'd need your Social Security number, e-mail address and bank account and the bank's routing number. You also need your driver's license number.

It can take time to carefully type in numbers, write down answers for three security questions, select a personalized image and caption, and retrieve two e-mails from Treasury for the account number and one-time password.

If you're buying a bond online as a gift, you'd need the recipient's Social Security number, too.

When you log into your account, there is a "Purchase Express" option. Red letters on this feature say: "NOT for gift bond purchases."

How do you buy a gift bond? I dug for the Treasury's tip sheet, which was useful.

Watch that "Add Registration" line near the top. You must add the registration of the child. But then, you also must use a scroll-down on the top bar to make sure the registration is locked in for that next purchase.

You need that child's Social Security number and the parent's Social Security number if you want the bonds in two names.

Eventually, I registered the two $25 bonds for my niece's children. I spent about 45 minutes, not including some breaks to clear my mind.

Once, about 12 years ago, I made a gingerbread house from scratch. The bond thing wasn't quite that bad. But I cannot see many people asking for this recipe, either.

WELL DONE Scrooge. I guess grandparents can go to Walmart and buy the grandkids something of long lasting value instead.[2]

On a serious note, I don’t think it is practical to open up an UTMA/UGMA investment account with $25 to $100 annual contributions. You could probably do that about as easily as buying saving bonds online. Too much time, too much trouble IMO for the average grandparent.



[1] USA Today story Your Money: Savings Bonds no longer an easy gift

[2] Most popular toys for Christmas/Hanukkah 2012
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