Your TSP account: Running with the bulls or bogged down by the bear market?

During the Great Recession of 2008-2009, tens of thousands of Thrift Savings Plan investors pulled money out of the floundering C, S and I stock index funds. Most shifted their retirement nest egg into the never-had-a-bad-day (or a very good one either, Treasury securities-backed G fund.

Then they waited for the market to come back. In the meantime many of them missed the chance to buy stock funds at bargain prices.

The same thing happened on an apparently smaller scale, when the record-long bull market ended earlier this year. Some investors decided to cut their losses, going into the G fund, until the markets return. The big mistake, according to Abraham Grungold, a long-time fed and financial coach, is when investors think they have “lost” or “made” money when the market falls or rises. The day of reckoning, he said, is the price of the shares — the value of your account — when you cash it out. In fact his message to you is this:

TSP investors, you missed the boat; it sailed on July 31

During my 34 years in federal service, I only heard from co-workers when the stock market had a bad day. They would be complaining that they lost so much money in their account and were pulling out to move their money to the G fund. During the financial crisis of 2008-2009, I noticed a similar sense of panic.

Contrarily, when the stock market would reach new highs, I never heard a word from anyone. So why is that? Why are people forgetting to share the good news?

The COVID-19 pandemic caused the stock market to fall about 35%. Again, the same hysteria and panic began. The phrase “I lost money” kept ringing in my ears. If you find yourself using this phrase, I want to remind you that you did not lose anything if you did nothing. You certainly lost money if you sold your C fund shares to then purchase G fund shares.

This is an example of a recognized loss. If you waited to sell your shares at the market’s high or even decided not to sell your shares at all, you would have been better off. During the pandemic, the opportunity to start buying was in March even though the stock market dropped. In my IRA, I made many purchases during February and March since there were many opportunities to buy. In my TSP, I chose to let my future contributions continue buying in the C fund.

Financial experts said that it would take years for the market to recover from COVID-19. Actually, it took approximately five months to reach the all-time high of S&P 500 (a complement of the C fund) and even break the all-time high of NASDAQ (a complement of the S Fund). I truly commend those TSP investors who stayed with the C and S funds rather than panicking. Their steady nerve not only allowed their TSP accounts to survive the pandemic but also reach new highs.

Financial success can easily be achieved; it only takes a little effort. Any questions or comments please contact me on LinkedIn or my Facebook page.

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Amelia Brust

The “French braid” hairstyle is not originally French, and has been documents as far back as 6,000 years ago in rock art from Algeria, in kouros statues from Ancient Greece, and worn by women of the Chinese Sung Dynasty court. But the current moniker is believed to come from an 1871 story in Arthur’s Home Magazine, in which a domineering husband tells his wife to put her hair “in that new French braid” and not worry about his vote for a congressman with a drinking problem.

Source: Popsugar.com

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THRIFT SAVINGS PLAN TICKER

Apr 09, 2021 Close Change YTD*
L Income 22.7359 0.0215 1.24%
L 2025 11.6253 0.0224 2.55%
L 2030 40.8198 0.101 3.18%
L 2035 12.2344 0.033 3.46%
L 2040 46.2070 0.1348 3.76%
L 2045 12.6383 0.039 4.01%
L 2050 27.6440 0.0908 4.28%
L 2055 13.5147 0.0548 5.47%
L 2060 13.5146 0.0549 5.46%
L 2065 13.5144 0.0548 5.46%
G Fund 16.5591 0.0007 0.27%
F Fund 20.5872 -0.0226 -3.35%
C Fund 61.7171 0.4734 6.17%
S Fund 82.1306 0.1232 7.79%
I Fund 37.5654 0.0048 3.52%
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.