Daily Debrief Reports: Your Thrift Savings Plan & the Market

Monday - 9/21/2009, 8:14pm EDT

Tom Trabucco

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By Dorothy Ramienski

It's up . . . it's down . . . it's all-around confusing sometimes.

The Stock Market retreated from recent gains on Monday morning, but a number of economists -- including Fed Chair Ben Bernanke -- think the recession might be over.

So, what does that mean for your retirement?

Tom Trabucco, Director of External Affairs for the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, and tells us more about your TSP accounts during his weekly chat.

Through the end of August, the underlying funds managed to make some money.

Trabucco said the gains were as follows:

  • G = 1.93%
  • F = 4.64%
  • C = 15.15%
  • S = 21.71%
  • I = 22.69%

"They're terrific, aren't they? . . . Now, we had some very bad numbers last year. It was, in fact, just a year ago when Lehman bwas going under and the financial system was on the brink. . . . It was scary. Everybody learned what their risk tolerance was during that period."

Trabucco said he and many other analysts feel that the worst is perhaps over.

But are investors back to where they were before the market crashed?

He said that depends on how you were invested.

"Remember, the C fund lost 38 percent last year, so that is back now 15 percent. So, we're not even halfway there yet with the C fund. If you were in one of the L funds [such as] the 2030 fund, that lost 28 percent, and, thus far this year, that's back 14.67 percent through the end of August. So that's recovered about half."

In addition to the changes in account dollars, Trabucco said the Board has seen changes in behaviors, as well.

"People are making new contributions all the time and in March of this year, when we hit the bottom of the market, 47 percent of those new contributions were going into the G fund. That number has now eased off a bit, [to] 45 percent . . . which means people are feeling a little bit better about things. I also note that, in terms of interfund transfers, for the last 5 months, [they] have been net out of the G fund. So, people are dipping their toes back in and increasing their allocations to the privately managed funds."

Trabucco said, no matter where your money currently is invested, the main lesson is that all investors are in the same situation together for the long haul.

"You just have to remember the fundamental investment considerations. First of all, your investment objective. Is your objective to live completely off what you have in the TSP -- or do you have other sources of income? What is your time horizon? Are you allocated properly for your time horizon? . . . And then, of course, fundamentally -- [what is] your risk tolerance?'