“You Save More Than Money With United States Savings Bonds!”

by J. Money -

defense savings bonds stamp booklet

BOOM!

The U.S. going hard in their marketing last century!!! Haha…

That line came from a bunch of old savings bonds ads I came across over the weekend while poring over old phone books (I’m a fun date on a Saturday night, let me tell you!), and thought it was pretty coincidental since I was literally about to blog about savings bond *stamps* based on a booklet I also stumbled across the other day (pictured above).

I didn’t know too much about them until now, but apparently they were issued by the Treasury Department during World War I and World War II and were primarily aimed at “common citizens” to help raise money for the war efforts.

The booklet I picked up came about during WWII and were specific to 50 cent stamps which offered the following proposal:

“When you fill this album with 50¢ stamps, it will have a total value of $37.50 and it will buy a Defense Savings Bond worth, in 10 years, $50. Your postmaster will give you, or you may secure from the Treasury Department at Washington, details of the Regular Purchase Plan, which has been adopted by many thousands of investors who are buying Savings Bonds each month at other intervals of their choice.”

These bond denominations also came in $25, $100, $500, and even $1,000 amounts (!!!), and essentially gave you a 2.9% interest rate (compounded semiannually) giving you 33 and 1/3% more in savings by the end of the 10 years.

And they weren’t shy about promoting these stamps and bonds either ;)

Here were other snippets found throughout it:

  • “Under this plan you can buy as often as you please and, without penalty, stop buying at any time”
  • “You will be surprised and much pleased to find how quickly you may through frequent purchase of Defense Savings Stamps accumulate funds for the regular purchase of Savings Bonds, and how many of these bonds you may own through these convenient partial payments.”
  • “[This] offers a quick and easy way for every loyal man, woman, and child in this country not only to put aside funds for future personal needs, but at the same time to give valuable help toward national defense.”
  • And the big up sell –> “If you buy a $50 (maturity value) bond each month for 10 years, and hold all your bonds, you will then own $6,000 (maturity value) of Defense Savings Bonds.”

Haha… True fact! And honestly, it would be enough to convince me to do my part too w/ the efforts :) Help our country AND bank healthy savings every month? Sign me up!! Especially when there are barriers in place for me *not to touch it* over the years. One of the biggest reasons I love retirement accounts so much – you’re not tempted to dip back in during bouts of temptation!

And apparently these War Bonds efforts paid off big time. During WWII alone a total of $185.7 billion was raised from over 85 million Americans, more than in any other country during the war. (The stamps were only a part of the efforts, with the biggest results actually coming from *payroll deduction* plans – which shouldn’t be that surprising considering how popular it is today in saving/investing!)

Here are some pics of the booklet for your viewing pleasure:

defense stamp albums

war stamps bond booklet - 50 cents

us savings bonds booklet

america on guard - defense bonds

And then here’s what the 50 cent stamps looked like that would be affixed to the inner pages:

50 cent war stamps minuteman

50¢ “Minuteman” stamps

Lastly, some of those ads I came across in the telephone directories (not relating to the *war* efforts, but still fun to see them marketing bonds well into the 70s and 80s!):

old savings bonds ad

old savings bonds ad

So that’s your history lesson for the day :)

Anyone old enough to remember these, or even purchase any?? If they were around TODAY, would the maturity value + patriotic slant be enough to convince you to pick up any?

A guaranteed return like that ain’t too shabby, though you don’t hear too many people these days raving about savings bonds, haha… We’ve all lost our patient pants!

*****
On a somewhat related note, I once found a bunch of old savings bonds in my safe when cleaning up years ago and decided to see how much they were worth decades later… You can read the story here, as well as what I ended up doing with them if curious:)

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jason September 24, 2019 at 6:42 am

I’ve always found these war bonds to be interesting. You can make money while supporting the freedoms that we all enjoy. What could be better than that?
In his book, “War is a Racket”, Smedley Butler references bankers manipulating the pricing of WW1 bonds, and many people selling their bonds at below par value. The cynic in me wonders how much of the potential profit was transferred by bondholders, likely scared by a depression in the secondary war bond market, to others who were familiar enough with the bond market to know when to jump in.
Either way, if the need were there, and government bonds paid in full percentage points, they’d have a limited place in my portfolio.

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2 J. Money September 24, 2019 at 11:35 am

I don’t know much about that, but I do know that the sales from WWI bonds were *drastically* lower than in WWII so I guess they figured something out :)

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3 Josh September 24, 2019 at 6:45 am

Not old enough to remember the War Bonds or War Stamps. But we were grateful for the savings bonds our grandparents bought us from the late 80s and early 90s which earned a decent interest rate in comparison to today. We cashed them out this summer to make a down payment for a rental property…living the American dream thanks to the sacrifices of our forefathers.

To answer your question, I probably wouldn’t buy them as my wife and I want more tangible assets (like real estate) which can earn a higher return. The bonds would be a decent hedge against potential negative interest rates, which is why I actually looked at buying more bonds this summer.

My slogan would be “Invest in America. Invest in your family’s future.”

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4 J. Money September 24, 2019 at 11:37 am

Well played parlaying them into real estate!!

I redirected mine into helping max out a Roth IRA :) (Thanks grandparents!!)

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5 Stephanie September 24, 2019 at 7:09 am

If Canada offered something like this today in $25-50 or less type sticker purchases, I’d be game. I remember collecting stickers for childhood books many years ago, and I think I’d enjoy the game of filling it up. Gamify, right?

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6 J. Money September 24, 2019 at 11:39 am

Haha yup!! Gamifying is all the rage these days ;)

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7 Anna Jarvis September 24, 2019 at 12:14 pm

I want to purchase some I bonds now. Where and how can I do that?

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8 J. Money September 24, 2019 at 1:35 pm

You can scoop ’em up directly off the web now:

https://www.treasurydirect.gov/

In fact, I don’t know if they still print out bonds anymore? I believe it might be all electronic now…

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9 Mike S September 29, 2019 at 11:38 am

Just a note about E series savings bonds. They reset the interest every 6 months but they also guarantee that the amount will double in 20 years, which comes out to 3.6% interest rate if held that long. So even if they are only paying 1% or 2% now, you will get 3.6% if you wait.

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10 J. Money September 30, 2019 at 6:28 am

Whaaaaa I didn’t know that!! Most of us will have 40 or 60 years to invest too so that’s a lot of doubling! :)

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