When they look at TSP returns, most investors probably focus on percentage gains or losses. But within the federal 401(k) plan, people also own, buy and sell “shares” with values which can change daily. So how are your shares doing?
Last year (2007) the value of a single share of the international stock index fund, the I-fund, went up $2.32. That may not sound like much unless you have a lot of shares, or unless you compare it with the performance of the super-safe treasury securities G-fund. The value of a G-fund share you had in January of last year went up only 56 cents by the end of the year.
So how’s your portfolio doing? After all 2007 was a roller-coaster year in the stock market. There was enough bad news that thousands of TSP investors moved millions of dollars from the international and domestic stock market funds (the S, C and I funds) into the super-safe treasury securities G-fund.
There are dozens of ways to measure the progress (or lack of same) of an investment. Most pros recommend that people diversify and invest for the long haul. They caution against trying to time the market (guessing when to get out and when to come back in) because they say this is usually motivated by fear or greed, not any special knowledge. What counts, the pros say, is not how your TSP account is doing now, but where it is when you begin to spend it. After all, if it’s down now, you may be buying low.