TSP returns still positive for year, many fall in February

CORRECTION: Story updated to reflect rate of change in positive monthly and year-to-date returns.

Fear of another government shutdown paired with Congress’ push to make it easier for participants to withdraw from their Thrift Savings Plan accounts may have led to several fund decreases in February.

The government securities fund (G fund) gained the smallest amount of all the TSP investments — about 0.03 percent. The G fund earned a 0.20 percent return, according to numbers from TSP released on March 1. The G fund, one of the steadiest in recent history, has only shown a 0.43 percent change in 2019 thus far.

The fixed income fund, or F fund, produced the only negative return in February as compared to the month before. The F fund has one of the smallest year-to-date rates of change — only 1.13 percent.

The common stock, small capitalization and international investment funds produced positive overall returns for February, but their performances fell by half or more when compared to January’s numbers. The S fund, known primarily for small cap investments, had the largest decrease going from a positive 11.64 percent growth in January to only 4.98 percent growth in February. The positive returns from the C and I funds both dropped by more than 4 percent as well.

The Lifecycle funds’ returns were also positive, going from 1.83 percent growth in January to only 0.80 percent.

Participants who will withdraw their money between 2020 and 2024 will need to pay close attention to fluctuating returns. The L 2020 fund returns were still positive, but dropped from 2.53 percent growth in January to 1.06 percent in February.

The L 2030, L 2040 and L 2050 returns  all grew between 2 and 3 percent in February, but fell almost by half when compared to the month before. The L 2030 fund boasted a 2 percent increase as compared to the month before, which was larger than the other two funds. Still, the lifecycle funds produced positive returns despite the one-month drop.

Almost all of the funds remain in the green for 2019 thus far, but returns were not as high as at the beginning of the year. Most funds, however, saw better returns in February 2019 than in February 2018.

Thrift Savings Plan — February 2019 Returns
Fund February Year-to-Date Last 12 Months
G fund 0.20% 0.43% 2.93%
F fund -0.06% 1.00% 3.32%
C fund 3.21% 11.48% 4.66%
S fund 4.98% 17.20% 6.96%
I fund 2.55% 9.32% -5.05%
L Income 0.80% 2.64% 2.97%
L 2020 1.06% 3.62% 2.76%
L 2030 2.00% 7.02% 2.62%
L 2040 2.36% 8.36% 2.47%
L 2050 2.68% 9.53% 2.34%


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