Dear Sun Spots: In Oct. I sent an order for $83.70 to the Lakeside Collection Company, P.O. Box 3088, Northbrook, IL 60063-3088, 847-444-3150. This was a Christmas order. I have not heard a word from them, although my check has been cashed. I’ve called several times, but the line is always busy. I have also written to them. Would you please be able to get in touch with them for me? I would be forever grateful to you if you could please help me. I love your column. – M.D., Dixfield.

Sun Spots called the company and spoke with Lisa in customer service, who notes they have two accounts for you in their system. Lisa says that neither one shows an order being placed for the above amount back in Oct. She recommends you contact your bank to see who cashed your check. You should also get a copy of the front and back of it and provide a copy to The Lakeside Collection. Sun Spots wishes you the best of luck in locating your order.

Dear Sun Spots: Could you please find out how long it takes for a U.S. Savings Bond, Series EE, to mature? Thank you. – Wondering, No Town.

According to, Series EE bonds are issued on paper and electronically. Paper bonds are purchased at half their face value or denomination; for example, you purchase a $100 Series EE Bond issued on paper for $50. Electronic bonds are purchased at face value; for example, you purchase a $100 Series EE Bond electronically via Treasury Direct for $100.

The minimum purchase is $25 for a $50 paper bond or $25 for a $25 electronic bond from Treasury Direct. The maximum annual purchase is $30,000 in paper bonds and another $30,000 in Treasury Direct bonds (that’s a total of $60,000). The limit applies to bonds where your name appears, so you cannot evade the limits by using many different co-owners. Series EE Bonds earn market-based rates that change every 6 months. There is no way to predict when a Series EE bond will reach its face value. For example, a Series EE Bond earning an average of 5% would reach face value in 14½ years, while a bond earning an average of 6% would reach face value in 12 years.

Series EE Bonds issued after Feb. 1, 2003, must be held for at least 12 months before they can be cashed. Bonds issued before that date can be cashed anytime after 6 months.

Series EE Bonds absolutely should be cashed before their final maturity dates for the following reasons. Firstly, if you fail to cash the Series EE bond before the critical date, you will be losing money because the bond will no longer be earning interest. Secondly, under IRS regulations, tax is due on the interest in the year the bond is cashed or it reaches final maturity. If you hold the bond beyond Dec. 31 of its maturity year, when you finally get around to cashing it, you will not only owe the tax on the earnings, but interest and penalties besides.

For current rates, call 1-800-4US-Bonds (1-800-487-2663). You can call any Federal Reserve Bank to request redemption tables for U.S. Savings Bonds. You may also request the tables from the Bureau of Public Debt, Bonds Division, Parkersburg, WV 26106-1328.

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