I’m sharing several options for investing in the TSP.
The Thrift Savings Plan is a defined contribution plan for United States civil service employees and retirees as well as for members of the uniformed services.
It is essentially like a 401K for military and civil service employees.
I’m not here to tell you which TSP recommendation is best, that’s a fool’s errand.
The only way to do that is to go into the future, see how things turn out, and then tell you which TSP asset allocation would have been ideal.
I will, however, give you the tools to make an informed decision.
Most of these TSP investments strategies should work well if you regularly contribute to your thrift savings plan, ensure you are getting matching if it’s offered, and stick with the same strategy over the long term.
I would caution against jumping back and forth between strategies every time you find something bright and shiny. Many people erode their long term returns by “dancing in and out of the market.” (Warren Buffett)
First, it’s important to understand the five core funds inside the TSP and what they consist of. This is important in understanding how they are used in building investment portfolios.
THE FIVE CORE FUNDS PLUS L
The G fund contains short term U.S. Treasury securities with no exposure to the risk of the bond or stock market
The F fund is an index of world-wide government, corporate, and mortgage-backed bonds
The C fund is equivalent to the S&P 500 index.
The S fund is an index of mid and small-cap stocks not included in the S&P 500.
The I fund mimics the MSCI EAFE Index of international stocks in 21 developed markets excluding the United States and Canada.
The L funds are professionally managed investment funds tailored to a specific time horizon.
Now we dive into each one a little more in depth before going into our TSP investment strategies:
The G fund – The Government Security Investment Fund
Pros: No volatility and backed by full faith and credit of the U.S. government
Cons: Can barely match the inflation rate; rate based on prevailing interest rate, which is currently low
This unique investment is only available to TSP investors. It’s rate is equal to 10-year treasuries, but their liquidity and protection from interest rate fluctuations is superior to 3-month T-bills.
The interest rate resets monthly and is based on the average of U.S. treasuries with a duration of 4 year or more.