Thanks to the booming stock market the number of federal-postal workers with $1 million or more Thrift Savings Plan accounts jumped to 49,620 at the end of 2019. That’s up from 21,432 in December 2018. In June 2018 there were 37,612 members of the TSP, which is Uncle Sam’s equivalent of an employer-backed 401(k) plan. The largest account balance is $7.3 million.
When the TSP was setup as part of the then new Federal Employees Retirement System there were only a handful of millionaires. All of them were either top-echelon lawyers who became federal judges, or members of Congress. Many political appointees also moved their former 401(k) plans into the TSP making them instant millionaires. But things have changed over time.
Now the vast majority of millionaires are career civil servants to did it the old-fashioned way. They invested in the TSP’s higher-risk, higher-reward C, S and I funds which track large companies, small caps and international stocks. Most continued to by the C, S and I funds on a regular basis during the Great Recession when stocks were down 40% and the shares were in effect on sale. And they also invested for the long haul.
The chart below from the Federal Thrift Investment Board shows the population of the TSP by account balances:
A researcher at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette used Cheetos to study nesting behaviors of corvid species, i.e. crows, ravens and magpies. The bright orange dust made it easy to track the birds who picked them up or stole them from others.