Stock market making you nervous?

October, as it sometimes does, once again proved to be a scary month for folks invested in the stock market. We didn’t have a Black Friday circa 1929 event. And we are a long way from the bad old days of the Great Recession of 2008.

Still, after the amazing decade-long rebound of the stock indexed C and S funds, and a hot period for the international index I fund, recent bumps in the road have hit many federal investors where it hurts, from Boston to Budapest — in their Thrift Savings Plans retirement nest egg. This is how some readers are dealing with the situation:

“A close-to-FERS-retirement fed here, target [retirement date of] Dec. 31, 2020, after 26-plus years  [and] bought military time. Still depressed from the last recession, I lost tolerance for the risk and pain and last November rolled three-fourths of my TSP into an IRA CD. Two reasons: One, the Fed won’t do anything but raise rates, and two, I am too close to retirement to recover the huge loss of funds I fully expect(ed when the new president took office — silly me) at the end of this honeymoon.

“I ask myself, near daily while I watched the rising market, did I do the right thing? It worked as planned. [I] diversified most in assured rate and some in high risk rate. Obviously I missed out on the amazing returns I might have seen, but I’m getting 3 percent on the CD, which I think in the grand scheme of things isn’t so awful. As of right now, my CD is performing well compared to the market returns through last week. Watch the market skyrocket after the midterms, I’d still be silly.

“I rationalize it by thinking diversification on the side of caution, aka preservation. I never reduced the amount of contributions into [Lifecycle] Income after the rollover, so I’m at least getting 100 percent return on 50 percent of my contributions. That means I contribute 10 percent, in case you slept through that day of math class. I was in L 2020 for a long time but I grow less optimistic as the time passes and I’ve lost tolerance for pain, so now it’s L Income.

“I recall in 1999 rolling my 401(k) into an IRA CD when I left my employer for the feds. Back then I had a five-year, 7 percent CD followed by a five-year, 5 percent CD — something about “days” and “those were”? Had to roll the IRA into TSP when the rates dropped to seemingly below zero a few years back.

“Anyway, this will (might) be the second TSP-market honeymoon for this sorta-long-term fed and I appreciate your articles that remind us of the huge benefits of federal retirement. Yes, that’s the second time I used the word huge. I keep seeing many others providing financial advice and worry that we should have over $1 million saved for retirement and I’m not a TSP millionaire.

“Thankfully, you remind me that the savings calculations for a FERS fed should include the pension and Social Security, as well as TSP — so we might be wealthier than it seems. Although I do not like to be reminded (by your other articles) that I haven’t been able to contribute maximum amounts and even if I did still wouldn’t achieve the exalted status, I feel comfortable that my wife and I have met the other advice. It might not buy three vacation homes, or even one for that matter, but the good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, in two-ish years we’ll see if it worked out ok.” — Jeff B.

“Mike, I spent 20 years after my retirement from the [government] building a portfolio to supplement my CSRS retirement. We have no debts so the CSRS annuity will, if we don’t splurge, cover our monthly bills and a pizza or two from the local diner. So, our portfolio can grow or diminish without creating too much angst. When the portfolio grows to a certain level we simply take the profits as extra cash for trips or other special items of interest. Also, the portfolio is invested in some of the most volatile stocks. So, we see some large swings during times like these, but we don’t worry because when we are gone the children will get whatever remains.

“The point is we invest with the attitude of 45-50-year-olds. We are in our 80s. We reap the benefits when growth occurs, and the children will benefit because they have 15-20 years to sit back and watch the ups and downs of the stock market. One major point is retirees should not G fund their total portfolio before or during retirement. Leave a portion in investments that grow and shrink as much as you can and still sleep without too much angst.”  Milt

“I began my foreign service career late but between my wife and I we had about $800,000 in our TSPs at the beginning of October. I have 19 months until forced retirement. I was worried about volatility and what the midterm elections might do to the market so I decided to move everything into  the G fund until after the first of the year. I still have money in the equities market but at least our TSPs are less exposed than they were.” — a close-to-retirement State Department employee in Eastern Europe

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Amelia Brust

The earliest known example of a tree is Wattieza, which was identified from 385 million-year-old fossils found in present-day New York. It is thought to have stood 26 feet tall and lacked leaves but instead had frond-like “branchlets.”

Source:Mother Nature Network

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THRIFT SAVINGS PLAN TICKER

Jan 20, 2022 Close Change YTD*
L Income 23.1883 -0.0487 5.42%
L 2025 11.9651 -0.0472 9.75%
L 2030 42.1747 -0.2353 12.37%
L 2035 12.6589 -0.0777 13.43%
L 2040 47.8799 -0.3207 14.51%
L 2045 13.1065 -0.0942 15.40%
L 2050 28.7010 -0.2205 16.34%
L 2055 14.1138 -0.1333 19.90%
L 2060 14.1136 -0.1332 19.90%
L 2065 14.1134 -0.1332 19.90%
G Fund 16.7510 0.0008 1.38%
F Fund 20.4699 0.0225 -1.46%
C Fund 67.7127 -0.7512 28.68%
S Fund 74.7229 -1.1189 12.45%
I Fund 38.6721 -0.1973 11.45%
Closing price updated at approx 6pm ET each business day. More at tsp.gov
* YTD data is updated on the last day of the month.