Best and Worst TSP Returns in 2016

All but one TSP fund had positive returns in September. Here are the best and worst performing funds so far in 2016.

All of the funds in the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), with one exception, had positive TSP returns in September. The one exception is the F fund which was down 0.04% for the month.

Moreover, all of the TSP funds have positive returns for the year-to-date and for the past 12 months.

Best and Worst TSP Returns in 2016

As the third quarter of the year comes to an end, which TSP fund has provided the best return in 2016?

It’s the S fund, with a return of 10.11%. This fund is also up 13.69% for the past twelve months.

The fund with the worst returns in 2016?

It’s the G fund – it has the lowest return of 1.32%. For the past 12 months, the G fund has a return of 1.85%. This is also the lowest return of any of the TSP funds for the past 12 months.

Returns for September, Year-to-Date and Past 12 Months

G Fund F Fund C Fund S Fund I Fund
Month 0.13% -0.04% 0.02% 0.90% 1.24%
YTD 1.32% 6.01% 7.87% 10.11% 2.80%
12 Month 1.85% 5.46% 15.50% 13.69% 6.90%


L Income L 2020 L 2030 L 2040 L 2050
Month 0.20% 0.30% 0.38% 0.43% 0.48%
YTD 2.82% 4.15% 5.23% 5.78% 6.21%
12 Month 4.39% 7.22% 9.12% 10.16% 11.08%

TSP Facts

Since January 2015, the number of Roth accounts has nearly doubled fro 494,048 to 807,129. Total Roth balances have more than doubled going from $2.2 billion to $5.2 billion.

The average balance for FERS employees is now $120,514. The average Roth balance at the end of August was $8,490. For CSRS, the average balance at the end of August was $124,321 with an average Roth balance of $13,531. For military personnel, the average TSP balance at the end of August was $19,500 with a Roth balance average of $4,764.

In August, TSP investors decided to move money out of stock funds and into the G, F and Lifecycle funds. $268 million was transferred out of the C fund, $115 million was moved from the S fund and $106 million from the I fund. Going in the opposite direction, $139 million was moved into the Lifecycle funds, $134 million into the G fund and $216 million into the F fund.

What About the Rest of the Year?

There is always risk in stocks. With instability in world events coming to the forefront in the Middle East, increasing military actions by China and Russia, and a national election in November, events seem unsettled. Moreover, historic valuations for stocks are high. Some investors are reducing their holdings, reflecting their concerns that high valuations may make them vulnerable to market reversals during the historically volatile month of October.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the S&P 500 (the index used for the C fund) was recently trading at 19.99 times its trailing 12-month earnings. A year ago, it was trading at 17.15. The 10-year average is even less at 15.7.

These figures may not mean a great deal to many investors. Essentially, the figures show there is potentially more risk than usual in the current prices for stocks. Additional large investments in stocks at their current prices carry more risk than might normally be the case.

This does not mean stocks will go down in the near future. People who try to time the market usually come out on the losing end in the long run as they often miss the big turns up in the market. The data are a reason to be cautious with your investments and diversity of your TSP fund holdings.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47