2020 hindsight invaluable — especially in 2020!

By now, many of us are already settled into new diet, exercise and educational paths for 2021. We are already shedding pounds. Boosting cardio rates. And consolidating gains made last year in our TSP and 401k accounts. We benefited from things financial that lesser investors failed to see. Or have the guts to act on. It took, and takes, a special breed. Like we few.

Despite the fact that 2020 was an exceptional, dangerous, horrible year in so many ways, lots of us learned to cope. Some to thrive. For whatever reason, the bulk of those who got it all — or nearly all — right, are blessed with a combination of X and Y chromosomes which seem to have given us extra wisdom about things financial. And many others.

It is both fashionable and right for even minor columnists and pundits to write about both their success AND failures during the past year. But how useful is it, really? Especially the failures part, which is negativity at a time when we should all be hopeful for better times. So lets concentrate on the good stuff. Because of certain federal and state laws, and professional ethics codes, people like myself are not allowed to give financial advice. Except to maybe our kids. But for savvy readers who can read between the lines and who understand nuances, here’s hoping you picked up on some hidden-clues which, if you took them, may have pushed you into what should be a fast-growing club of self-made feds with millionaire dollar TSP accounts. Most of them have one thing in common: They’ve been investing 29 years on average. They’ve invested largely or exclusively in the S, I and especially C-funds. And they’ve stuck with them especially during hard times when the shares were on sale. They didn’t let recessions or downturns rattle them and today most are sitting very pretty.

Hopefully you learned here that last year’s continued bull market would last at least 11 years. Which it did. A record. And you got the strong hints that things might change early in the year — in hindsight February and March — (which they did briefly but frighteningly) when there was a major, as in MAJOR, correction. But with hindsight people rode it out.

So how good was the stock market in 2020? The New York Times on January 1 said MARKETS END A WILD 2020 WITH GAINS, and that “Wall Street closed out a tumultuous year for stocks with more record highs (on the last day of the trading year), a fitting coda (CQ) to the market’s stunning comeback from its historic plunge in the early weeks for the coronavirus pandemic.”

Stocks, as measured by the benchmark S&P 500 fund (the C-fund to TSP investors) finished with a GAIN of 16.3% for the year, or a total return of about 18% with dividends. More than that the NASDAQ composite (thanks to tech giants) jumped 4.36%. This after the S&P (C-fund) fell 8.4% in February, and then 12.5% in March. While many, many panicked thinking this was the end of happy-days and began again selling shares, many also bought, “earning” at least on paper, a ton of money.

So now it can be told. And it was all out there (here actually) if you chose to read it. Correctly of course.

So did people? Did you?

Later this week we’ll have a guest column from a very, as in very, successful federal TSP investor who is also a coach. He’ll explain what he told clients, how they reacted and how they did. Spoiler alert: Very well indeed!

Finally, how did the self-styled experts do? Those unlicensed to give advice to nevertheless help interpret the tea leaves for busy people. Feds like you.

Well a couple may announce they are retiring to their private islands in the Caribbean. Or plan to tour the world as soon as it reopens for business. I toyed with the idea but decided to stick around at least another year. Until the car is almost paid off and the electric bill is straightened out!

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Alazar Moges

In 1962, the United States Patent Office issued a patent to Swedish Volvo engineer Nils Bohlin for a simple but life saving three-point safety belt. Instead of charging other automakers for licensing, the company opened up the patent so it could be incorporated into vehicles, saving countless lives.

Source: CNET

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THRIFT SAVINGS PLAN TICKER

Jan 20, 2021 Close Change YTD*
L Income 22.4342 0.0484 5.15%
L 2025 11.3266 0.051 -
L 2030 39.5104 0.2228 11.26%
L 2035 11.8098 0.0728 -
L 2040 44.4773 0.2972 13.16%
L 2045 12.1383 0.0864 -
L 2050 26.4848 0.2001 14.79%
L 2055 12.8135 0.1165 -
L 2060 12.8136 0.1165 -
L 2065 12.8137 0.1165 -
G Fund 16.5159 0.0004 0.97%
F Fund 21.0630 0.0056 7.50%
C Fund 57.3777 0.7886 18.31%
S Fund 79.6544 0.6198 31.85%
I Fund 36.2434 0.1175 8.17%
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.