I-Bonds Are Not the Only Means of Combating Inflation

After this year’s thrashing, Treasury inflation-protected securities (TIPS) will finally provide a regular retirement income stream. If you believe the dismal returns on equities and bonds this year have rendered a secure retirement impossible, reconsider.

The recent decline in bond prices has made Treasury inflation-protected securities, or TIPS, more affordable for the first time in over a decade. Purchasing and maintaining them in your retirement portfolio can ensure a steady income source that will not be eroded by inflation.

TIPS entail U.S. government bonds whose principal value fluctuates (up or down) by the Consumer Price Index gauge of inflation. They also pay a set interest rate. Whenever TIPS are priced high, the yield (annual interest divided by the most recent price) will be low, as is the case with practically all bonds. When prices decline, yields increase.

In contrast to I bonds or inflation-protected savings bonds, TIPS are tradable, available in huge quantities, and marketed by banks and brokerages. In addition, they are packaged as mutual funds and exchange-traded funds. These characteristics make TIPS more adaptable, particularly for wealthy investors.

This adaptability is not always advantageous. The price of Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS) increased by around 6% during the last year, with the result that their “real yield,” or income paid to investors above inflation, remained negative.

This implied that future returns would likely be similar. Morningstar reports investors invested $75.5 billion in mutual funds and ETFs in TIPS in 2021. mutual funds and ETFs that will invest in TIPS in 2021.

TIPS aren’t risk-free. Inflation-protected bonds suffer comparable losses to standard bonds when interest rates increase. This is partly because TIPS provides lower coupon rates and has longer average maturities than conventional bonds.

According to Pimco, until November 30 of this year, TIPS earned 7.3% from the inflation adjustment to the principal. Still, their market price dropped roughly 18%, substantially worse than the 14% decline in regular Treasury prices.

The overall return on TIPS was -10.9%, which was not significantly better than the return on Treasurys without inflation protection. This puts them on course for their worst year in more than 25 years of operation. None of this should matter if you hold until maturity when you will get your initial investment plus inflation adjustments.

However, many of the same individuals who flocked to inflation protection when it was costly to have abandoned it now that it is so much more affordable. Morningstar estimates that investors had withdrawn $16.1 billion from TIPS funds through October 31.

According to Pimco, you could lock in a yield of about 1.6% over inflation this week, given that TIPS have declined. Before one year, the actual yield was negative at 1.7%. If your focus is on your future retirement rather than your past, you should purchase TIPS rather than sell them.

According to Allan Roth, a financial consultant at Wealth Logic in Colorado Springs, Colorado, TIPS investors may lock in the capacity to take 4% of their capital yearly for 30 years without running out of money due to inflation.

The higher the real yield, the higher the safe spending rate you’ve been able to establish, says Mr. Roth, who recently purchased TIPS and recommends them to customers nearing retirement.

This year’s dismal market for TIPS offers a “silver lining,” according to Nathan Zahm, head of Vanguard Group’s goals-based investment research. It has resulted in losses but enhanced future predicted profits, and a greater real yield indicates a considerably brighter future for retirees.

You should probably not invest your whole nest egg in TIPS. Holding till maturity is a defensive approach to ensure you will not run out of money after inflation. But that is all, and it may not be sufficient. You should invest a portion of your funds offensively to get a larger return over the long term.

Inflation-resistant Treasurys are an excellent addition to a stock and asset portfolio. Due to its contractual tie to inflation, TIPS tends to offer unusual diversification compared to virtually any other investment elderly savers may be considering, says Bransby Whitton, a retirement strategist at Pimco.

TIPS might result in tax complications. In addition to their normal interest payments, they also create these principal inflation adjustments. This phantom income is federally taxable even though you do not get it until the TIPS mature or are sold. Consequently, many individuals hold TIPS in tax-deferred retirement accounts.

However, they are exempt from state and local income tax. Mr. Roth suggests that if you reside in a high-tax jurisdiction, such as California or New York, you might consider storing your TIPS in a taxable account.

In 2021, Jeffrey Rapp, a 63-year-old physician in the Los Angeles region, will retire. A few years ago, he constructed a “ladder” consisting of a portfolio of TIPS maturing nearly every year from the time he becomes 65 to the time he turns 85.

This will give him an inflation-proof income stream consisting of a combination of interest payments and maturing principles.

He explains that it has enabled him to disregard the volatility associated with equities investments. This year, he had zero worries over the performance of his portfolio. Rapp stated that having a TIPS ladder eased his mind.