Friday, May 13, 2005

Are I-Bonds attractive? 

Ibonds seem to be pretty attractive at a 4.8% yield and 6 month inflation adjustment.

Apparently you can defer taxes until the bond matures. This does not imply that if you hold the bond for 12 months that you can treat it as capital gains. The interest is always subject to Federal income tax (unless used to finance an education, in which case it may be tax-exempt). The interest is exempt from state taxes. See:

The advantages/disadvantages of Ibonds compared to other treasuries are that their yield fluctuates with inflation--the 4.8% is actually a 1.2% fixed rate, plus a 3.6% inflation adjustment. The yield will never drop below 0%, even if deflation occurs and exceeds the base 1.2% fixed rate. For current and historic rate information, see:

Redeeming them before 5 years results in losing 3 months worth of interest. They must be held at least one full year. They earn interest for a maximum of 30 years.

Like other saving bonds, they're not liquid--you can't sell them in an aftermarket, just hold them or redeem them.

The interest is not paid out periodically as it is for Treasury notes and bonds, but rather is paid only when the ibond is redeemed. On the plus side, that means you may be able to hold off redeeming them until tax conditions are more favorable, but that also means it's harder to use them to generate normal income over the shorter term unless you're willing to pay the penalties.

They're available in a broad range of denominations ($25 through
$30,000) if purchased electronically, with a maximum of $30,000 each in electronic and paper purchases made by any one person per year (which includes those purchases as gifts).

For more information on ibonds, see:

Note that ibonds are *very* different beasts from TIPS (Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities). The latter are liquid, have multi-year fixed durations, generate interest payments and increase their principal value based on inflation, and can have extremely unpleasant tax implications if held in a non-tax-deferred/exempt account. For more about TIPS, see:

Monday, May 02, 2005

OTC treatments for viral infections 

I got this terrible virus where I had a fever ranging from 102 to 104 for 5 days! I haven't been this sick in a long time! It sucked. It happened right after a weekend with my friends where I went to bed at 1:30-2 am two nights in a row. Guess I am not so young to handle this kind of activity any more! That, or the baby just takes so much of my energy that I really need all the rest I can!

You can't take antibiotics or do anything about viruses; you just have to wait for them to work through your system. Moreover, if you take antibiotics when they're not needed, they may increase the chance of bacteria becoming resistant to antibiotics. In other words, the antibiotic will no longer work against the bacteria.

It is important to take care of yourself so the illness doesn't develop into an infection: ear infection, sinus infection, bronchitis or pneumonia. If that happens, then you're really screwed. In the meantime, all you can get is rest rest rest fluids fluids fluids. You can try the following to make you feel better while your body's own defenses defeat the virus:

- Drink a lot of fluids
- Use a cool mist vaporizer or saline nasal spray to relieve nose or chest congestion
- Soothe throat with ice chips, sore throat spray or lozenges (zinc)
- Take echinacea and lots of vitamin C

- Acetaminophen - generic Tylenol 500 mg
- Ibuprofen - 200 mg - can take up to 800 mg every 8 hours

Cough / Sore throat
- guaifenesin syrup (generic Robitussin DM) - loosens up mucus and makes coughs more productive
- Dextromethorphan - suppresses coughs
- Sore throat spray (generic Chloraseptic)

Congestion / Runny Nose
- loratadine (generic Claritin) - decreases the mucus secreation
- Afrin (Oxymetazoline Hydrochloride) - only use for 3 days to clear nasal congestion
- Pseudoephedrine (generic Sudafed) - clears nasal congestion and runny nose