Thursday, February 17, 2005

Spending Money

I have a small inheritance. A few years before my grandmother died (almost 10 years ago), she bought some US Savings Bonds jointly in my name and hers, shielding the money from mandatory spend-downs and allowing the money to skip probate. When she bought the bonds, interest rates were high; rates are lower now. As of February 1, the rate they're earning is less than the rate I'm paying on the mortgage, so it makes sense to redeem the bonds and send the money to the mortgage company. I ran the numbers: doing this would shave a little more than a year off the mortgage. (Ah, the power of the exponential function.)

I've already started spending the money on other things. A couple weeks ago I bought myself a sparkly trinket at the pawn shop estate jewelry center for $700. I knew it wasn't a good value (the $2300 trinket that I decided against -- much too expensive for a gift to myself -- was a much better value), but I like sparkly trinkets.

Now I'm thinking of using the money to finance Ring Theory Tour 2005. There's the AMS sectional meeting in Bowling Green (March 18-19) and the Conference on Algebra and Its Applications somewhere in Ohio (March 22 - 26). Since I have no travel money, I'd have to pay my own way to these conferences. And then there's the teacher in-service that I need to travel to in early April. Lots of self-financed travel this spring.

And don't forget that I need to pay federal income taxes on the interest from the bonds. And I'll probably have to send money in to the feds when I get around to filing my 2004 taxes -- last April I owed a lot of money, and I haven't fixed my W4 (I need to change it from 1 exemption to 0 exemptions).

This might be why I've been procrastinating about calling the mortgage company to find out how to make a payment of extra principal -- by the time I get around to redeeming the bonds and having a check cut, I'll probably be left with just enough money to make a regular payment.