I’ve been writing about TIPS and I Bonds for nearly 10 years, and as 2020 comes to a close, I’ve decided to scale back a bit on my writing. I’ll still be posting the inflation “news” each month — and its effect on I Bonds — along with auction previews and results, but I won’t be providing in-depth analysis.
If you’ve been following my writing on SeekingAlpha.com, you know that I have built a sizable audience there, and I have written more than 300 exclusive articles for that site since 2015. Those articles generally take an hour or more of work (sometimes much, much more than an hour) and for that work I was getting about $35 an article. It added up to be enough to pay the bill for one of my two monthly Costco trips.
SeekingAlpha recruited me to write about bonds back in 2015, and over the years I have consistently been the site’s No. 1 or No. 2 writer on bonds, and often in the top 10 on retirement topics. The site has altered its pay structure at least four times over the last five years, and generally I ended up making about the same amount, at least $25 an article but sometimes much more for highly successful articles.
Last month, SeekingAlpha drastically altered its pay structure, rewarding authors only for delivering page views to its “high dollar” premium subscribers. It connects its premium payments only to authors writing about specific stock tickers (such as, TSLA) . I rarely write about a specific stock or even ETFs. My articles are focused on near-zero-risk investments in Savings Bonds, U.S. Treasurys and bank CDs. It’s hard to find any other coverage of these topics, anywhere.
The payment change took effect in November. So, although I drove 30,465 page views to the site last month, my pay is going to be $34.76. The same number of page views a month earlier would have earned at least $215. My regular “breaking news” articles earned only about $3.50 an article. An hour of work for $3.50? I’m done.
Last month I wrote my TIPS auction preview story from Hilton Head Island, S.C., while on a brief holiday. Over the years, I have annoyed my wife by writing breaking-news articles aboard a cruise ship on the Nile, from Hanoi, from Paris, on a ship off the Norweigan coast, from Hong Kong, from Lisbon. I took this work very seriously and it was part of my commitment to you, the readers.
So now I am going to scale back. On this site, I will continue to post “news only” updates on inflation, I Bonds and TIPS auctions and results, but without the commentary. I might be a little “late” at times, but not too late, I hope. Sorry!
And I will try to answer questions posted by readers. Thanks for visiting.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH. I too appreciate your educational information and predictions. I never stop telling people that I-bonds are better than gold or the fake bitcoin, since your assets always keep appreciating and you never loose value. If you don’t mind me asking do you by any chance have a succession plan. Your past columns and techniques of analysis are too valuable to be lost. Perhaps someone could continue some of it for future readers.
I’m “fairly” young, but no, I don’t have a succession plan. It’s hard to imagine anyone else wanting to do this for earnings of maybe $1,000 a year (from ads on this site). It still works for me, though, and I would be tracking TIPS and I Bonds, anyway.
I really appreciate you dedicating your time and sharing your knowledge with us. From your writing, I can feel your genuine desire to help others make informed decisions and find that type of altruism a rarity in today’s world. That’s why I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Seeking Alpha can go kick rocks. Thank you for everything and once we’re all able to travel safely again, I hope you and your wife continue to enjoy all this world has to offer. Take good care.
Tipswatch — I echo Judy’s comments above. You have been very informative and educational over the years. Maybe there is a different venue out there for you to communicate with your loyal followers. Perhaps a simple monthly newsletter for an annual fee. One example of the sort (and I’m not endorsing it) is Brinker’s Fixed Income newsletter, monthly delivery, $99/yr. Download a copy from their website to see it. I’m sure you could refocus something like that with your specialiazed skills. Thanks again for everything.
Thank you, David. I’ve enjoyed reading your columns on Seeking Alpha and as a result have included I-bonds in my portfolio most years since 2014. Am now glad to find you at tipswatch.com. If you decide to use a subscription model at a “tipping point” that is remunerative for you and reasonable for subscribers I would happily join.
I was wondering why I hadn’t gotten a notification in some time that you had a new article on Seeking Alpha! And then I did a bit of searching and voila, here I am. In any case best of luck – I’ll miss your very helpful and informative writing on iBonds and Tips (still confused by how Tips work but one of these days I’ll figure it out). I’ve been purchasing iBonds for over 10 years now and your writing has confirmed for me that that has been a worthwhile endeavor.
Sad to see you will be writing less, but grateful that you will still be writing for us boring bond investors. I started purchasing I Bonds because of your articles. Thank you.
I’ve looked forward to your I-bond advice every year. Be well and thanks for many years of analysis on this amusing niche of finance. Your writing was my only reason to visit seeking alpha.
Jason, thanks. I probably will write “something” about I Bonds in January, but here is a hint: I plan to buy up to the max in January, because I have a 10-year TIPS maturing that month and can use the proceeds. Buying in January goes against my usual advice, but I think there’s little chance this year that the fixed rate will rise above 0.0%.
Sorry to be late discovering your scaling back on writing. I can tell that SA definitely leans toward certain stock tickers, so I have stopped really paying much attention to the daily updates I get. I will add my thanks to the info you have provided. I bought my first I bonds and T-Bills staring in 2017 after reading a couple of your articles, and then doing some follow-up research of my own. I dropped out of t-bills, but continue to accumulate the I bonds. I will be watching for your updates here.
Just wanted to say thank you so very much for the educational and informative articles. I have followed them closely for years now and they will be truly missed. I will keep coming back to your site even for the minimal posts!
Thank god I found you! Have been looking on SeekingAlpha and was beginning to worry that the reason you weren’t there was that something had happened (medical, whatever). You have been a sensible, honest source of advice on gov bonds that are good for people who buy them but aren’t covered enough. Many thanks for all you have done. Am glad that you are still writing.
BIll in D.C.
I have really enjoyed your insights in the gov bond world. Thanks! Will miss you timely advice but glad you might be spending a little more time enjoying your vacations!
I found your blog this year and was very happy to learn from it – and apply it. As Im still building my portfolio (38) Im in the need of independend information so I thought about another way for you and want to suggest Patreon to you? This way you have subscribers to your blog who pay monthly for a year or so. Please consider that option and let me know as I would be an early subscriber.
Count me as another beneficiary of your insights. I am still learning about fixed income and have found no other resource quite like yours. Thanks to you (and to Bogleheads) I am building my TIPS ladder and adding I-bonds annually. Selfishly I’m hoping you will find another avenue that compensates you, but can’t blame you if you are done. Thanks to your wife for her patience!
I found your Blog in early 2014 and read every post religiously since then, and I really appreciate your writing style (clear and actionable). I had been buying I-Bonds and TIPS randomly since 2005 but without a real plan on how they fit into my overall portfolio. Your articles helped me understand these investments and cemented their important place in my capital preservation approach.
Thank you for all the time you spent to educate us.
Thanks for helping my finances stay healthy. Wish I had found you before they put the limit on how much we can put into I bonds.
Sorry to hear, but understandable…
Michael Lonier *The Financial **Preserve**™* Conscientious Financial Planning and Retirement Income Management from Lonier Financial Advisory LLC 457 E. Mac Ewen Dr. Osprey, FL 34229 201-741-9528
See my recent webinar *The Anatomy of a Retirement Plan* at *Retirement Daily on TheStreet*
Websites: The Financial Preserve and R-MAP Planner
Featured in USA Today: How to plan for a smaller Social Security check
Recent posts: • The SECURE Act Puts Roth Accounts Front And Center In Retirement Plans | Seeking Alpha • Planning for the Long Run | Seeking Alpha • Goldilocks Risk Management And Living Without Sequence Risk | Seeking Alpha
On Thu, Dec 3, 2020 at 9:04 AM Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities wrote:
> Tipswatch posted: ” I’ve been writing about TIPS and I Bonds for nearly 10 > years, and as 2020 comes to a close, I’ve decided to scale back a bit on my > writing. I’ll still be posting the inflation “news” each month — and its > effect on I Bonds — along with auction previews ” >
Thank you for your excellent, concise, informative articles. I would not be investing in Series I bonds if not for your excellent advice.
Many thanks for all of your careful, articulate, useful, and interesting articles. Starting in 2010, I relied heavily on your insights to build a ladder of 30-year TIPS that I bought at auctions and will be holding until their maturity years in 2040-2049 (switched to I-bonds during the past year). As an economics professor, I have also made use of your articles in teaching my students about inflation, economic policy, and real interest rates. Your work is greatly appreciated!
Thanks so much for your articles and analysis. I have enjoyed your work.
Thank you very much for your informative articles over the years. You are making the correct decision, but we will all miss your insightful thinking.
You have done a fine job over the years and I certainly do appreciate it. I had never given savings bonds much thought until I encountered your articles. And I am certainly glad that I did too. So however you manage your future writing you have a loyal fan here.
Best wishes to you and yours.
Thank you for all of your contributions in this field! Your detailed insights have driven my TIPS/Ibond investments for the last several years. Sorry to see it end (or even slow down), but I understand the reasons. If you can find a way to continue your work but also receive the compensation you deserve, I hope you let us know.
Very sorry to hear that you’re going to stop writing your terrific articles on TIPs and I-Bonds. I’ve really enjoyed your thoughtful, analytical pieces and am now (I hope!) a smarter investor because of them. I haven’t seen anything else quite like your posts, probably because it’s hard to monetize sensible, low-cost investing! If not for Jack Bogle, we would probably all still be paying active fund managers 2% a year. Thank you, and best of luck.
I have been reading each and every post you’ve made, starting long before you switched to Seeking Alpha for your complete articles. Thanks so much. I firmly believe in the importance of inflation protection in a retirement portfolio. I have a 10 year tips ladder and your advice has greatly helped me build it. This is the first year that I have not replaced my matured 10 year TIPS with a new one. I just don’t want to buy a negative interest rate TIPS anymore, even with the inflation adjustment. I will just wait until next year and hope to get a better rate then. I appreciated your I-Bond advice and we buy the max every year. Your CD advice has been equally helpful. If you find a way to charge for your Tipswatch website, I will gladly pay. Maybe you could let us know a way that we who have benefited from your Tipswatch posts could send you a payment now, in thanks for your help. It is the fair thing to do. Capital Preservation through safe fixed income investing is an important part of our strategy.
I cannot thank you enough for all of your efforts over the years, David. It was because of your articles that I began to invest in I Bonds a few years ago. I am so grateful to you. I agree with Steven that hard work and quality is no longer rewarded in today’s society. It will be Seeking Alpha’s loss, not yours. So enjoy the extra time you will have to spend on what matters in life. All the best for the future.
Dave — I’ve been enjoying your reports for years. I moved on from TIPS to iBonds because of your analysis. Not only have the iBonds and TIPS stories been helpful, but the in-depth feature on picking the right Medicare plan when I turned 65 was indispensable. I’ll continue to look for your updates. Good luck to you, and congratulations to your wife on getting your full attention back!
Hello Mark and Dave: Please help me find that article on picking the right Medicare Plan. I have read every magazine article I can find and only find superficial information. My philosophy is: “Don’t buy insurance to cover a risk that you can manage out of your own resources.”. So I don’t need prepaid eyeglass purchases. That is means that I cancel collision insurance on my car when its value drops “below $10,000”. Thank you.
I also wrote a more limited article on Medicare costs last month, but didn’t look at the supplemental plans: https://seekingalpha.com/article/4389149-medicare-costs-will-rise-slightly-in-2021-beware-of-irmaa
Check to see how your state offers SHIP (State Health Insurance Assistance Program) services, which are free, unbiased sources of advice on Medicare. These can be excellent. https://www.shiptacenter.org/
Or, use a well-respected Medicare insurance agency, like Boomer Benefits, which I have heard a lot of good things about. There are others equally good, I am sure. There is no cost to the consumer, but I suppose they might have favored insurers. https://boomerbenefits.com/
Thank you, Mark and David. The author of “How to Retire Happy”, Stan Hinden, recalled that he needed $40,000 in dental work that he never budgeted for. He noted that he was a personal finance writer for a city newspaper and that he could not figure what policy to buy to cover that risk.
I had planned to buy a policy where I could cover that risk and pay lower premiums. I suppose that my bequeath would be larger someday. What’s that worth to me? ::dry:: From your writing, I anticipate that I should buy a high premium policy. I will attain foreign travel coverage: I had actually purchased a short term foriegn medical policy from Progressive for a trip seven years ago.
People who really have to limit their premiums should buy the Medigap coverage: that is my broad and superficial summary.
Going to keep this brief. Be well!
Ever wonder why your television is filled with ads for Medicare Advantage plans rights now? (Joe Namath, go away!) These companies really want you to sign up. The reason is that the federal government pays them a fee to take over the risk of your coverage. Let’s say that fee is $10,000 a year per person. If you sign up for Medicare Advantage, and you use $2,500 in covered services, the insurer pockets the extra $7,500. If MA plans can sign up a lot of healthy people, at age 65, they will do great business. Plus there are co-pays and deductibles they don’t talk about. And you still pay the IRMAA surcharges for Parts B and D.
I don’t know a lot about Medicare Advantage, and I am sure there are good plans out there. But I like the very defined, predictable structure of the Medigap plans.
On private dental insurance: I’ve looked into it, and nearly every plan I have found has very limited dentists “in network” and your costs for co-pays and deductibles and the insurance will end up being higher than just going without insurance. It is nothing like the insurance you had at work, because at work, about 30% of the people never went to the dentist. And most of these plans cap out payments at $1,500 annually.
Thank you for your contribution to educating individual small investors. It is very much appreciated.
Thank you for the work you have done on this site. It is by far the most useful for those of us interested in TIPS, I-Bonds and other inflation hedges.
loved your articles !!! it seems hard work is not rewarded in this economy,Only paper shuffling makes any money.my stockbroker gave me a good tip” bye the virus sell the vaccine” Good luck!!!!
Thank you very very much.
Your articles and explanations have informed what is now my retirement “safe money” baseline.
Hey, I’m retired and loving it. And not looking back.
You should be too.
So sorry to see your expert commentary so slightly valued!
Thank you for all you have done. It has helped me greatly. Enjoy your life.
I’ve always enjoyed reading your valuable work. But I agree, if you aren’t fairly compensated for it, it’s not worth it. You don’t need to be a charity. I do hope you keep us informed about things like whether to buy H-bonds now or wait til the next re-set date. Thanks for all you’ve done.
The folks who benefit society the most are most often under appreciated and underpaid, unsung, some would say.
I have followed your excellent work for many years and could never have fully understood all the “moving parts” of TIPS (and other fixed investments) and the bigger picture of how they would come to fit into a now 61 year old’s portfolio the way they have. Thanks for answering a lot of dumb questions! You write with great clarity and purpose, and I want to thank you sincerely for your service to a LOT of folks, David.
I’m so very glad we will will continue to hear from you on any level.
I have enjoyed your posts for some time. They were helpful and informative. I am disappointed to see you scale back. Like most larger organizations, Seeking Alpha is blowing it!!! I will delete my Seeking Alpha app (which will be a pleasure due to all the annoying, nonsense notifications. The best of luck to you.
Your analysis will be deeply missed. We appreciate your thoughtful inspections of current bonds and have relied on your expertise. Thank you
I have enjoyed your emails but I fully understand. It seems that knowledge does not pay anymore. Writing about stocks is just guess work, but unfortunately people like it and foolishly invest in the recommendations.
I have always enjoyed your articles, found them to be informative and insightful. I agree 100% that information about this area of investing is severely lacking in availablility. I understand and respect your decision to reduce your involvement here under the changed fee structure. It will be their loss. Thank you so much for all your efforts, you have helped many people. Take care, Randy Stevens
Thanks for all of your great work. Honestly if you could focus on consumer-only Savings Bonds I would very much appreciate it. There are many professional sources writing about TIPs, but no one writes about the lowly I and EE Savings Bonds.