3 Steps to a Million $$$ TSP Account

Wednesday - 4/21/2010, 4:00am EDT

Building a million dollar retirement nest egg, if you work for Uncle Sam, is not rocket science.

Here's how to do it:

  1. Invest the maximum amount you are allowed (so you get the 5 percent government match) in the Thrift Savings Plan.

  2. Pick the right fund (or combination of funds). Stick with them, except when you need to change.

  3. Stir occassionaly for 20 to 30 years and wham, bam, you are a millionaire.

It's been done. Seventy five current feds have TSP accounts worth a million or more, although most did it via the rollover route. Checkout Monday's column about the now-retired SESer who stuck with the C, S and I (stock indexed) funds through good years and bad.

So is the road to riches the stock market-index funds? It can be a bumpy ride taking you up and down depending on war, weather, economic conditions, the price of oil and even volcanoes in Iceland. Throw in the occasional asteroid strike to make it interesting.

Or do you get rich by playing it safe and sticking with the G-fund which invested in special U.S. Treasury securities that are not available to people outside the TSP? Its payoff is never heart-pounding exciting, but it has never had a loss.

Mike, an employee of the Department of Veterans Affairs takes the slow-but-sure approach. "Becoming a TSP millionaire can be done with zero risk strictly through investing in the G fund," he says. "There is no need to invest in the risky C, S, and I funds. Just contribute the max each year (currently $16,500) and over a 30 year career you will exceed a million."

Over the last 10 years the G-fund and the much-neglected F-fund (bonds) have outperformed the stock-index C, S and I funds. But when the CSIs have a good year (like 30 percent returns) it can be a very good year.

So is there one true road to riches? And if so, what is it? Today at 10 a.m. on our Your Turn with Mike Causey radio show, investment expert Alan Roth, talks about maximizing your portfolio. He writes the CBS blog "Irrational Investor".

And we'd like to hear from you! What's your game plan? And can you become a millionaire by playing it safe and sticking exclusively with the G-fund? What does past performance tell you? And what kind of track record do the various TSP funds have?

Listen today at 10 a.m. at www.federalnewsradio.com or, in your car or home radio in the DC area at WFED 1500 AM.

National Security Personnel System

At 10:30a.m. on Your Turn Randy Erwin from the National Federation of Federal Employees will talk about what's next for Defense civilians being recycled out of the NSPS, about pending legislation to help (or hurt) feds and what upcoming "reforms" of the federal personnel system would mean to you.

To reach me: mcausey@federalnewsradio.com


Nearly Useless Factoid
by Suzanne Kubota

Mount St. Helens "holds a new mystery" reports National Geographic: rainbow trout, twice the length of pre-eruption fish in the lake, have reappeared in Spirit Lake. No one knows how they got there.


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