Posted on Friday, 15th December 2023 by

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I like to close out each year with a few last-minute updates and observations. My next article won’t be published until early January. Time to celebrate the holidays and just sit back and relax awhile.

The Clock Keeps Ticking – Thankfully

The older I get, the faster time flies by. In our youth most couldn’t wait until we were 16, graduated high school, and finally reached 21!  What was the rush? During those early years we lamented why others were at those milestones and not us.

From my mid-teens on, life was and still remains a blur, too much to do and too little time to do it. Even in retirement, retirees often ponder how they ever found time to work.

Rarely a day goes by where I’m not occupied with family activities, writing columns, running the business, working on projects, managing finances, workout routines, and unfortunately numerous doctor’s appointments.

Maybe, it’s time to take the lyrics seriously from “Feelin’ Groovy,” one of Simmon & Garfunkel’s songs: “Slow down you move to fast, you got to make the morning last, just kicking down the cobblestones, looking for fun and feeling groovy.”

Not sure about feeling groovy at my age but it’s certainly time to slow down and take life easy for a change. Actually, that’s my 2024 News Year’s resolution.

Fortunately, early this year, I got a head start on next year’s resolution. I stop for coffee several days a week with new-found friends to discuss this, that, and everything in between. An interesting interlude with an eclectic group consisting of Bob, Gary, Dave, and Craig. A welcomed break to decompress and put things into perspective.

Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) Connectivity Issue

When I recently tried to connect to, and to log on to one of my healthcare provider’s sites, they appeared to be down. The Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) support line confirmed the site was up and running. I reviewed my computer’s security and virus protection software and didn’t find any problems. This was occurring on all three of my computers.

I called McAfee. They suggested I turn off their Virtual Private Server (VPS); low and behold I was able to connect. If this is happening to you. Verify that a firewall app or other VPN app is not conflicting with your McAfee or other virus protection software’s VPN. 

VPNs are full-featured Virtual Private Networks that protect you as you surf the internet.

According to McAfee, “A VPN replaces the IP address of your device with a different IP address, effectively hiding your location. It uses advanced AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) 256-bit encryption by default. This encryption protects your data by preventing others from reading it as it passes over the internet.”

It also provides anonymous browsing; advertisers trying to serve ads targeted or based on customer behavior aren’t able to obtain your browsing or search habits through conventional means.

2024 Annuity Statements Available Now

OPM posted our January 2, 2024, annuity statements on December 11, 2023. The statement provides your monthly annuity amount based on the 2024 COLA of 3.2% for CSRS and 2.2% for FERS annuitants.

The health benefits and Federal tax withholdings annotated on this statement are based on 2023 withholdings. A Notice of Annuity Adjustment will be sent out later in January that reflects health benefit rate changes. These changes will also be reflected on the February 2024 online annuity statement. 

The 2023 1099-Rs are typically posted on this site by mid-January, mailed copies should be received by no later than January 31. 

New Computer Purchase

I was putting off purchasing a new office desktop for some time, my main system was 6 years old and slowing to a crawl. Each time I update to a new system it takes a considerable amount of time and effort to set everything up and transfer software and data.

New Dell Computer up and Runing

The transfer wasn’t as cumbersome as anticipated and I was up and running in 3 days. My new All-in-One Dell Inspiration 7000 Series is blazing fast. It comes with a 27″ Touchscreen Infinity Edge FHD (1920 x 1080) Display, NVIDIA® GeForce MX550, camera, 32GB memory, 1TB Solid State Drive (SSD), and Intel Wi-Fi 6E (2×2/160) Gig+, Windows 11 Home, and Bluetooth 5.2! That’s a mouth full.

With my old system it would take 5 minutes or more to bring up my Quickbooks accounting software, the new system loads it in 20 seconds!

Costco had it listed for $1,499 online. When I went to the store it was marked down to $1,099. I asked the store manager why the online price was considerably higher; he stated it was the shipping and the units in the stores were marked down for clearance. Clearance items at Costco are marked down to the dollar amount followed by 97 cents. I couldn’t pass up the deal.

All-in-Ones are compact and easier to set up. When you purchase a desk top tower you often have to purchase the display, camera, microphone, keyboard, and mouse separately. Plus, I didn’t want to craw around on the floor hooking up the tower to all of the ancillary equipment.  Most computers today, including desktops with towers, don’t come with a DVD drive much to my displeasure.

If you are contemplating the purchase of a new computer, ensure the new SSD drive is of sufficient size to accommodate all of your data, future updates, and software. The laptop, that I purchased December of 2020, had a meager 128 GB SSD drive with a one tetri bite (TB) of traditional hard drive storage.

All of the operating system goes on the main SSD drive and before you know it, the drive is full. I worked with Dell to move as much of my laptop data as possible to the hard drive but it is still a problem. If you purchase a minimum of 512 GB for your SSD drive or larger it will work more efficiently, and the SSDs load superfast. You won’t be disappointed.


In my previous article, the date of maturity for the 13-week T-Bill I mentioned was incorrect. The maturity date is 2/1/2024. Here is the corrected paragraph:

“If you invested $50,000 in a 13-week T-Bill issued on 11/2/2023 that is earning 5.488%, the Treasury withdrew $49,319 from your account. On the maturity date of 2/1/2024 they will deposit $50,000 into your account resulting in a $681 profit.”

My newsletter posts are published concurrently on our blog at The corrections can be viewed there.

My newsletter subscribers and blog visitors are my de facto editors; your input is much appreciated. Please don’t hesitate to let me know if you find an error that needs corrected or that I missed something. I appreciate any and all feedback that I receive.

Wrap Up

Another year gone by at lightning speed, a year older, and hopefully wiser, not sure about that last one yet. I believe I wrote more articles this year than in any year previously, so many changes and so much to talk about.

This was especially true during open season where 17 FEHB providers set up Medicare Prescription Drug Plans (MPDP), and many new Medicare Advantage (MA) plans were established by others. Then you add in the substantial changes and cost increases for Long Term Care and so much more.

I revised and sent out our updated 2024 Federal Employees Leave and Schedule spreadsheet for those still working and planning their exit. Another year-long feature explored fixed income investing and the benefits of Treasury Bills, Savings Bonds, and CDs.

Several articles received a lot of attention this year including Pandemonium and Insecurity – The Jackels at Our Gate, and This, That, and Other Things – Nothing but the Truth. Sometimes I feel compelled to speak out about controversial subjects.

All this while tax season is fast approaching with even more changes coming our way. Change is a fact of life and happening at warp speed these days.

I wish all of my newsletter subscribers and site visitors a joyous holiday and a happy, healthy, and prosperous NEW YEAR.  My best to you and yours always.

Helpful Retirement Planning Tools

Disclaimer: The information provided may not cover all aspect of unique or special circumstances, federal regulations, medical procedures, and benefit information are subject to change. To ensure the accuracy of this information, contact relevant parties for assistance including OPM’s retirement center. Over time, various dynamic economic factors relied upon as a basis for this article may change.

The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for your situation and this service is not affiliated with OPM or any federal entity. You should consult with a financial, medical or human resource professional where appropriate. Neither the publisher or author shall be liable for any loss or any other commercial damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages.

Last 5 posts by Dennis Damp


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2 Responses to “2023 in the Rear View Mirror – Observations and Updates”

  1. Sean A. Says:

    Thank you Dennis for another year of invaluable information and insight that help us Feds and former Feds make wise decisions regarding our benefits and personal resources. I for one appreciate the time and effort you devote to researching and publishing so much important information throughout the year. Best wishes for a bright future and please keep up the great work!

  2. Dennis Damp Says:

    Thanks for your kind words and I wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and a happy, prosperous, and healthy NEW YEAR!