Monday, November 29, 2021

Please, Thank You, I'm Sorry

I was speaking with someone the other day who was bemoaning the use of guns and how quickly people resort to violence when they have disagreements or feel slighted or insulted in some way.  Then he very unexpectedly said, “If only people would learn to say ‘I’m sorry’”.

That brought to mind an article I read a dozen years ago or more in Hospitals and Health Networks, a publication of the American Hospital Association.  The author of the article cited a study that showed hospitals that had implemented an “accept the responsibility” policy in the face of potential malpractice or personal injury lawsuits suffered less financially than those that vigorously fought such lawsuits.  The former had adopted the practice of openly acknowledging mistakes they made and then apologizing to the victims.  This seemed to have the effect of forestalling lawsuits and/or making the victims willing to settle for much less in damages.

As you might imagine, there were those—mostly lawyers, but many others, too—who railed against the idea of acknowledging mistakes as a guaranteed way to go broke with the sure-to-follow multi-million dollar damages awards in the courts.  It didn’t happen that way.  Instead, by owning up to their real mistakes (the hospitals did continue to fight what they considered frivolous lawsuits) and showing compassion for the victims and their families, the would-be litigants felt like their loss was acknowledged and their worth recognized.  They either dropped their lawsuit, never brought one at all, or settled out of court for a modest payment.

What’s true in the healthcare-legal environment is true in our everyday interactions with others.  Who of us would not respond positively to a sincere “I’m sorry”?  It’s disarming, it’s affirming, and it can reverse the downward spiral of an emotional situation; and in that sense it is empowering.  Not to turn it into a dollars-and-cents matter, but (after all, this is a blog about personal finances) the emotional well-being and healing that that empowerment generates goes a long way to promoting overall health—saving money in health care expenses.  Depression, anxiety, and other conditions of poor mental health are more widespread than most people realize.  I saw that every day as an insurance company representative working on patients’ claims.

Those other magical words, “please” and “thank you”, should often flavor our conversations, too.  In an ever more coarsening society where the art of talking to one another is lost in the noise of electronics, the kindness of a smile and an expression of gratitude to another person are priceless.

This Thanksgiving season and on through Christmas and beyond, express gratitude…to others, to God.  You likely also have reason to say “I’m sorry” to at least one person, and certainly to God.  Just say it…and mean it.

Until next time,


“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” Proverbs 25:11 New King James Version

Thursday, November 4, 2021

A Safe Way to Earn 7% on Your Savings


Kiplinger magazine runs a feature each month to name the highest yielding savings accounts and certificates of deposit in the country.  It would be comical if it weren’t so sad.  The “high yields” are often just half of one percent, rarely over 1% these days.  That’s not to fault Kiplinger.  They are just reporting what we already know: it’s nearly impossible to make any money on your money these days outside the stock market.  (Incidentally, Kiplinger cannot possibly check out every national, regional, and local bank in the country, so there are surely some better deals out there somewhere.  I’ve found them locally, in fact.  It pays to shop!)

But this week the U.S. Treasury announced its new interest rates for savings bonds.  In light of the recent inflationary outlook for our economy (which led to the biggest cost of living increase in decades for Social Security recipients come 2022) I had expected the rate to go up.  I certainly didn’t expect this though: from November 1, 2021, to April 30, 2022, Series I U.S. savings bonds will pay 7.12% interest.  The previous six months’ rate of 3.54% was already a standout figure, but to see it doubled literally overnight was a pleasant surprise for anyone searching for more money on their savings.

Buying savings bonds is not for everyone.  First, it must be done online through and requires setting up an account with the Department of Treasury.  That’s not an obstacle for most people.  But Series I bonds are like a certificate of deposit in that you may not withdraw any money for the first twelve months; and there is a penalty of three months’ interest if the bond is cashed before five years.  So money put into a savings bond would best not be needed for any expenses in the near-term.  Moreover, there is a $10,000 purchase limit per calendar year, although a taxpayer could purchase up to another $5000 of I bonds with his tax refund.

The rate on a Series I bond readjusts every six months, so it could go down on May 1.  Or it could go up, depending on what’s happening with the economy and inflation.  It is even possible the rate could drop to 0%, though I find that unlikely in the next year or two, at least.  But even if it did, getting 7% interest for even just six months then getting 0% for the next six months beats getting 0.01% for twelve months.  Even if you cash in after that time and forfeit three months’ interest, according to the Treasury website the interest penalty would be the most recent three months’ interest.  If you weren’t getting any interest those last three months, then the penalty is $0, if I understand that correctly.

Savings bonds might seem a little old fashioned, but they look like a solid investment to me.  They are backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government (as good as an FDIC-insured account at the bank) and the interest is not subject to state and local taxes, making the effective after-tax yield even higher.  If used for qualified educational purposes, the interest can even be exempt from federal taxes.  I used that benefit for my sons’ college education with Series EE bonds.  See the website for full details.

If you have some cash you don’t need for a few years but would like to see it grow in a safe account with an above average interest rate, Series I savings bonds might be for you.

Until next time,



“Invest in seven ventures, yes, in eight; you do not know what disaster may come upon the land.” Ecclesiastes 11:1 NIV*

*Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV® Copyright © 1973,   1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™  Used by permission.  All rights reserved worldwide.