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"The retiree doesn't know much about investing. I don't know if they would attempt to learn about buying individual bonds."

If you decided you wanted to set up a laddered maturity bond portfolio, any stock broker will be able to bid for your business. You tell them the amount, the maturity, and the bond rating, and they will show you a list of bonds they propose to buy. You get to review them to see if you are comfortable with them, and pick the best offer.

Most individuals should buy investment grade bonds, rated probably A or better. Longer maturity gives higher yield, but in the example I mentioned before, you would want 5 bonds, each maturing at 1 yr intervals for 5 yrs. The minimum total investment is usually $25K, but more is better.
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