Lawyers Guns and Money

Or at least the money part.

I am the proud aunt to 10 nieces and nephews.  That’s 10 birthday and 10 Christmas gifts to my lovely siblings’ offspring.  Like so many kids today, mine included,  it seems like my nieces and nephews have more stuff than they need.  More stuff than they need by loads.

Before every birthday and Christmas,  I go through the kids’ rooms and toy chest and round up unused things for donation.  Garbage bags full of unused toys get rounded up for donation.  I know the same must occur at my siblings’ houses.  There is no way for these kids to possibly deal with the mounds of excess they receive.

Before holidays, when my brothers or brother-in-laws or their respective spouses call to get my kids’ wishlists, I implore them to get practical things.  My oldest wanted clothing before she was a teen.  This request was meet with disbelief and the aunts and uncles wouldn’t buy them because they were afraid to be “uncool”.  Everyone wanted to compete by buying a better, bigger, louder, shinier toy.

I don’t have this problem.  I will buy needed clothes.  I don’t need to be the cool aunt.  I gave clothes whenever appropriate and gift cards to clothing stores if there was no immediate need for clothing.

Last Christmas, my youngest nieces and nephews received savings bonds.  I loved this.  I don’t think that any of my nieces and nephews have a college savings account and it isn’t certain that these kids will attend college.   But savings bonds can’t be spent now and don’t need to be spent for college.  I love that.  Savings bonds are the traditional gifts of aunts and uncles who were inclined to give gifts.  This is a tradition worth keeping.  I only regret I didn’t start doing this years ago.

Last year was the last time one could go into a bank and buy a paper savings bond.  Now one must go online and open a Treasury Direct account.

So, about a month ago I decided it was time to open this account.   The first snag is that it must be linked to a bank account.  Of course it wouldn’t do to link this to my main bank accounts.  I chose to use an emergency funds bank account as the account to link to my Treasury Direct account.

I also thought it would be very convenient to set it up so that I could electronically transfer funds from my main bank account to this other account so I could take care of everything online.  No need to make a withdrawal from my primary bank and then deposit this in the other account.  I should be able to just log into my primary account and set up the transfer electronically.  It works wonderfully when I pay bills online.

Well, to do an electronic funds transfer, I needed to initiate account validation.  This consisted of entering all the routing and account info and having a couple small deposits made and then withdrawn from my emergency fund account.  This occurred over the course of a couple of days.

After I went through all this, I saw that my bank considers this function to be a wire transfer.  Wire transfers require a fee.  Then I checked with the other bank and saw that they charge to receive this transaction.  In fact, they charge $15 to accept a transfer of this sort.  I don’t see how this is different than a direct deposit.  And yet they have the nerve to charge $15 for an automated deposit into my account! WTF?!?  Clearly I will have to physically make the deposits into my emergency fund account because I’m certainly not paying $15 to do so online.

I finally got the time to make the deposit into my account.  So there’s one obstacle overcome.

I finally went online to open my Treasury Direct account.  I got all my bank account information out and sat down and got ready to take set everything up.  … And the site wouldn’t connect.  I’d already spent a week messing around with this crap.

The next day, I went back to try again.  I got my account set up just fine.  Then I downloaded the guide explaining how to buy savings bonds as gifts.  Well, the recipient has to set up a Treasury Direct account to accept the gift.  Well, that could be problematic.

So I called one of my brother-in-laws and asked how he felt about that.  He said it was fine as long as I would help him set it up.  Hey, no problem.  That should be easy once I finally go through all the steps myself.

So I have to decide how to register the bond and I have to be sure to designate it as a gift.  When I bought paper bonds, I picked Co-ownership with the minor as primary owner.  I needed to provide a social security number, but not for both parties, only for one.  So mine was the social security number on the bond.

This registration designation is slightly different for electronic bonds.  It’s called Primary Ownership.  There’s a small difference in how it works, but that’s fine.  Only, online it won’t let you leave the social security number for the gift recipient blank.  Obviously, there had to be a way to do this.  I must not have know the proper way to do this because one can’t possibly go ask for social security numbers in order to give a gift.

The Treasury Direct website is user friendly enough to have a link to an online form where one can ask questions.  My question read as such:

I would like to buy EE savings bonds for my nieces and nephews for birthdays and Christmases. I downloaded the instructions for buying a savings bond as a gift but have no idea how to enter the information required to register a bond. I can’t very well go and ask for my minor niece’s and nephews social security numbers. When I bought old paper bonds, I was able to provide only my social security number. Is this option available? How do I do this?

So this morning, about a week and a half into this retarded ordeal, I received a response to my inquiry.  Apparently, the government does expect one to go ahead and ask for the social security number of the person whom one wants to give a gift.  Really?  Do they not want to sell these things?  I couldn’t believe that this change was made.  What is the purpose of this change?  Who does it actually benefit?  Not me.  It was a giant pain in the ass.  And I didn’t even buy any.

I found a site that talks about the change to electronic only savings bonds and gives tips on how to use savings bonds as part of a savings strategy.  You can read the actual “article” here.  Keeping in mind that you MUST have the social security number(s) of the gift recipient(s), here are the recommendations for purchasing savings bonds:

  • invest in savings bonds for your children – I have no problem with this.  Certainly it’s appropriate for parents to have access to their childrens’ social security numbers
  • if  family and friends offer to help with your childrens’ education, encourage them to buy savings bonds for your children – yes, great idea.  for the price of a savings bond, hand over your childrens’ social security numbers to everyone you know
  • buy savings bonds for children of family and friends – ask for social security numbers for the children of family and friends.  for as little as $25 a child, set up your own widespread identity theft scam.  if you’re smart, you’ll steal bank account information from someone else to pay the $25/child cost of savings bonds
  • encourage your son or daughter to request savings bonds on their wedding registry – sure, along with the registry info, send out social security numbers in the wedding invitations.  that will certainly insure a bright future

I’m so annoyed.  I’m annoyed with the terrible suggestion of asking for the social security numbers of others.  I hope no one followed that advice.  I’m completely annoyed with the huge obstacles the government has put in the way of purchasing savings bonds.

I’m really really annoyed that I spent so much time on this already and I still have to figure out another gift for my nieces and nephews.

The US Government and the internet, making life better for everyone?


One thought on “Lawyers Guns and Money

  1. It just shows how incredibly self absorbed the bankers have become and out of touch. US treasury is full of people that came out of Wall Street. And throw in a Congress full of ideologues and we end up jumping through hoops. Very interesting post. Thanks.

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