Thanks Wendy for recent treasury bill discussion!

I used to buy all my treasury bills and TIPS on, but after a discussion a few weeks ago, primarily with Wendy, I switched over to buying mostly at my brokerage. I did it for 3 reasons:

  1. Convenience.
  2. Early last year, after buying a bunch of I-bonds, and gift I bonds, treasurydirect locked me out of my account. I called their number at least 10 times over a few months, but nobody ever answered, or I was disconnected before anyone answered. I didn’t fret since all my treasury bills were on “autopilot” and reinvested automatically upon maturity. After a few months, I finally got through to them and after asking me a whole bunch of ID questions, they unlocked my account. To my huge dismay, those idiots, and I don’t use that word lightly, cancelled EVERY SINGLE reinvestment the day they locked the account, and automatically moved the funds into the C of I non-interest bearing account, instead of to my bank account where all maturities are usually directed. So for a few months, that money earned no interest at all!
  3. Apparently not all treasury bills are sold on treasurydirect. Including some lucrative ones.

So thanks to Wendy, today I was able to snag a 35-day treasury bill that yields 4.572% which is better than any 35-day fixed income alternative out there. Way better. Plus, my broker isn’t going to randomly stop rolling the bills I choose to roll just because I happen to not login for a while. And, my broker actually answers their phone when I need them!


Wow, @MarkR, thanks for sharing this story. @OrmontUS also shared his experience of Treasury Direct “losing” his account at some point in the past.

This helps confirm my decision to keep my 2001 paper I-Bonds in my safe deposit box instead of mailing the paper bonds to Treasury Direct to convert them into electronic bonds.

When I redeem them I can just walk the envelope across the lobby from the safe deposit room to the bank tellers.



Hi Wendy,

Thanks for sharing your knowledge in th T Bills.

I had a query I know you mentioned you use Fidelity…

So, when I search on that for T-Bills, I see only 3 month bills, and not the 4 weeks or 8 week bills. Is that right?

Also, what is the 3rd party price, and do we need to bother about the yield to worst?

For the example below, If I buy this at the ask price of 98.543 and spend $10000

I am assuming that I would have spent $ 98543; and when I redeem it on 5/10/23, I will get paid$10,000 { giving me an interest of $157}.

Do, I have that right?

Also, if possible, could you or Mark please let me know where we can buy the 4 week bills…After hearing Mark’s story, I am getting nervous about the accounts being locked on treasury direct and am thinking of just using the broker for these in future.

Thanks again,

More or less yes. A zero coupon bond is purchased at a “discount” to face value and returns the face value at maturity.

For example, today I bought the zero-coupon 4-week treasury bill (CUSIP 912796ZU6) at 99.6601, it will settle on 1/17/23 and will mature on 2/14/23 and the full face value (1000 x number of bills purchased) will automatically (no act to redeem is needed) be deposited to my account.

For treasury bills, there are new ones issued every week. Recently there are 4-week, 8-week, 13-week, and 26-week bills issued every week. Once in a while there are “oddball” ones issued, like the 35-day one this week. Lately, I simply purchase a few of all of them each week, to fill up a kind of ladder that goes out week to week as long as 26 weeks. I almost always buy “new issues”, so I don’t have to deal with bid/ask determination. For new issues, you simply get the high of the bids accepted at auction for that bill. The way to find them at Fidelity is to click on :News&Research → Fixed Income, Bonds & CDs. Then select “New issues” (3rd tab). Then click “+” next to “Treasury” to see all the new issues. They don’t appear there until an hour or two after they are announced by the US Treasury, on various days of the week. Thursdays for 13-week and 26-week bills. Tuesday for 4 and 8 week bills. See this link for detailed treasury bill timing information.

Once on that new issue screen, select the bill you want and click “trade”, then a trade ticket will open up. In the number of bonds field, each 1 is 1000 face value. So 10 bills is 10,000 face value. Itll also ask if you want to “auto roll”, I do that for 8-week bills, but not for the others. That way, my 8-week ladder always remains intact, while the other ladders are at my discretion. I chose the 8-week one because they tend to have slightly higher rates, or at least did when I was looking closely.

There’s also a new issue 10-year TIPS today (I don’t know why it doesn’t say “TIPS” in the name), but I likely won’t buy any since the yield dropped a lot this week.


Thanks so much! Very helpful to get started…and thanks for describing it step by step on the Fidelity website.

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@Inspired2learn ,

@MarkR gave an excellent response.

I’d like to add…

If you go to Fidelity’s bond page, you will see a tab for Treasury bonds. Click on this. You will see four categories:
Treasury (new issue) - this will only list the upcoming auctions which are limited dates. That’s why you saw only only 3 month bills, and not the 4 weeks or 8 week bills. Here is the Treasury’s listing of upcoming auctions. Upcoming Auctions — TreasuryDirect

Treasury (secondary market) - this will list every bond that Fidelity’s customers want to sell. That is a much broader offering of dates.

TIPS (new issue)

TIPS (secondary market)

Unlike Mark, I always look at the secondary market. That’s because the Wall Street Journal recently reported that secondary market Treasury securities are yielding more than the equivalent new issue Treasuries, even though the time to maturity is exactly the same.

For example, a new issue Treasury that matures in a year (2024) is yielding less than a 10 Year Treasury (issued in 2014) which matures on the same date in 2024.

That doesn’t seem to make sense but in a way it does.

The big commercial bond traders want to deal in large lots, minimum 100 bonds ($100,000 purchase minimum). They can’t be bothered with less.

We small investors want to buy in smaller lots. Maybe as low as 1 bond ($1,000). There are other small investors who have a small number of bonds who need to sell them to get the cash. They list these bonds for sale but only a few small investors are willing to buy them. So the sellers have to accept a lower price (higher yield for the buyer) to move their bonds.

If you decide to look into this, click on the small blue dot next to the bond listing – it’s for “Depth of Book” and is easy to overlook. The first bond listing may be for a bid minimum of 100 bonds which looks impossible. But if you click on “Depth of Book” you will see other offers of the same bond in different quantities by different sellers. These usually yield slightly less than the largest quantity. I don’t mind sacrificing a fraction of a percent to get the bond I want.


I wasn’t clear. For short-term bills I use mostly new issues, but for any other bond, I also, and primarily, look to the secondary market. For example all the TIPS I’ve bought opportunistically on days their rates spiked (>1.55% or so) were on the secondary market. The TIPS that I am not buying today are the new issue ones that are expected to yield only 1.23%.

The other issue with the secondary market is that the bid/ask and yield calculation is a little tricky. I’m always surprised that Fidelity doesn’t have a quick popup widget to calculate the actual yield to maturity while you are choosing your bid price.

There is also an additional difference between secondary and new issue. When holding till maturity, new issue bonds won’t have a capital gain or loss, but secondary will. This is, of course, sometimes to your advantage, because you can offset capital gains in a bond with capital losses in a stock (or bond). But you can’t offset interest payments (except the special case of offsetting up to $3,000 of ordinary income with capital losses, the rest has to be carried forward to future years).

For example, for the ~1-year bond (91282CBE0) maturing 1/15/24, almost all the yield will be in the form of a capital gain, and only a small amount of interest. The capital gain per bond will be $1000 - 956.40, or $43.60. The interest will be $0.625 on 7/15/23 and $0.625 on 1/15/24.

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@MarkR how do you calculate your yield to maturity? I’m using an equation but I don’t know if it’s the right one.


I use the Excel YIELD() function, but it doesn’t always work right for me.

Here’s an example for the ~1 year bond (91282CBE0) settling 1/17/23, maturing 1/15/24, rate 0.125%, price 95.64, semiannual interest payments, and actual/actual interest rate calculation.

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