August 17th, 2011

More mail follies

Last year, I related the tale of being sent recruiting material from the very same United States Navy from which I gloriously separated twenty-seven months ago. In the recent weeks, I have received some more lovely pieces of mail worth mention.

Let's start with Hofstra. Since I matriculated there, I have often been bombarded with brochures for various study-abroad programs. I don't doubt that some of these mailings are effective at attracting people. But I'm not one of them. I saw a lot of a few other countries during my time on Memphis; at this point in my life, I'm not particularly in the mood to see a bunch of others. I'd rather just stay on Long Island and finish out this degree. That being the case, this latest round of brochures is particularly annoying. Three and a half months ago, I filed with Hofstra my intent to graduate on December 20 of this year. You may or may not have noticed on those advertisements various date ranges in January 2012 - in other words, after I'm gone. I'd think Hofstra might not want to waste money on postage, what with this economy and all. But Caitlin makes a good point:
They just pass along the postage to your tuition bill. Stay classy Hofstra. Plus checking records involves too much work.
Sounds like as good an explanation as any to me.

I got this solicitation from USAA a couple of weeks ago. I left the "PO3 USN" unblurred because that is the point. For starters, as I mentioned at the top, I've been out of the Navy for over two years. Second, it's been nearly six years since I was a Petty Officer Third Class. I took the exam for PO2 in September 2005 and found out that I passed two months later. I'm not sure that USAA can be held to blame; I'm not sure exactly how they would update their records, other than possibly the same way they got my name in the first place. Regardless, making an error like that is a sure way to draw negative attention and to not make a sale.

This came in the mail yesterday; since it came from Ford Credit, I opened it, figuring that it might be an important notice regarding my payment plan. Nope. It was a solicitation to get myself into a brand new 2011 Fiesta. The first thing to note is that Ford is pitching me a higher interest rate than the one I currently have. Beyond that, this simply made me realize that they can't see into my mind and read my personality. I've only owned my current car for seventeen months, and I bought it new. In other words, it has plenty of years and miles ahead of it, and therefore I won't be in the market for another car for a LONG time. Generally, I don't replace things until they irreparably break. For example, I'm still using the same "clamshell" phone (a Motorola V220) that I've used for six and a half years. It's branded Cingular, a company that was subsumed into AT&T four years ago. There may be people out there interested in trading in for a new car just before the end of the model year, but I'm not one of them.

This has nothing to do with mail, of course. This was my haul from the Borders in Syosset; I saved about $30 off the listed prices. I didn't intend to buy any of these when I walked in...I was just poking around and happened upon them. I'm looking forward to all three, and I'm not sure which I'll read first. I'm also not sure of how fast I'll get through these books. I may have been able to read at the ripe age of one and a half, but I'm not really a "born" reader, unlike Jaclyn. All these books should nicely help to fill out the three weeks until the start of the fall semester.

A Quick Influx of Cash

If Bill Simmons ever writes another epic tome on the NBA, that will supposedly be the title. But it's also what I achieved kind of by chance yesterday.

I was going for a file in my documents folder, and as I did so, I noticed a saved Web page named "SBCPrice." That's the inventory of my various savings bonds that I did on the Treasury Department's Web site; the most recent calculation was in April 2010. Most of those bonds were purchased as gifts for me in the early 1990's. But three of them bore issue dates of July 1981, just a couple of months after my birth. If you know the general characteristics of Series EE U. S. Savings Bonds, and recall which birthday I celebrated not too long ago, you might realize the same thing I did about 3:30 yesterday afternoon, upon seeing that file. Those three particular bonds had reached final maturity - that is to say, they no longer accrue interest.

I decided to cash out those three bonds. The only reason to keep them would be to maintain something that could be liquidated in the event I desperately needed cash at some point in the future. In the event that happens, I still have those other bonds, which continue to rack up interest every six months. That being the case, the three 1981 bonds are effectively at the peak of their value right now. Whether I redeemed them yesterday or five years from now, I would get the exact same amount. Therefore, continuing to hold the bonds reduces their effective purchasing power, which would be slowly inflated away. And so, I drove to the local Capital One Bank, and for each of the three $50 face value bonds, I received $146.90.

What to do with this new found four hundred and forty American dollars? Well, I am now thinking about replacing my cell phone - you know, the really old one I mentioned last night. And despite my mild perturbation at Apple Inc. last month, I'm leaning heavily toward the iPhone 4. (I had thought about the 8 gigabyte 3GS version before redeeming these bonds.) If any readers have any tips, tricks, or recommendations - on the phone, data plans, or what I should do with the rest of the money - please let me know below.