How Much Did TSP Funds Drop in 2018?

TSP stock funds were all down in 2018 but bond funds are up. Here is a summary of how TSP funds finished out the year.

2018 Stock Market Returns Head South

The long-running bull market in stocks may be nearing an end as stocks ended 2018 with the lowest performance since 2008. To put that into perspective, the C fund ended 2008 down about 37%. In 2018, the C fund ended down 4.41%.

For the year, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 5.6% and the S&P 500 (the index on which the C fund is based) was down 6.2%.

The stock market has gone through a rough patch in the final months of 2018. Investors have been concerned about the performance of the global economy and also concerned about the unwinding of central banks’ easy-money policies that have been in place the last few years.

Comparing TSP Returns to Overall Averages

The C fund in the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) was down 4.41% in 2018. December was a killer month for stock funds though as the C fund declined by 9.03%, the S fund went down 10.70% and the I fund was down 4.82%.

And, with the exception of the bond funds, all of the stock funds in the TSP were down for the year. The G fund beat all other funds with a positive return of 2.91% for the year. The L Income fund was up 0.71% and the F fund, which lagged most funds throughout the year, still ended up with a modest positive return of 0.15 for all of 2018.

TSP Returns for December and 2018

Here are the returns for all of the TSP funds for the month of December and for all of 2018:

G Fund F Fund C Fund S Fund I Fund
Month 0.26% 1.84% -9.03% -10.70% -4.82%
YTD 2.91% 0.15% -4.41% -9.26% -13.43%
12 Month 2.91% 0.15% -4.41% -9.26% -13.43%
L Income L 2020 L 2030 L 2040 L 2050
Month -1.31% -2.18% -4.64% -5.61% -6.45%
YTD 0.71% -0.36% -3.58% -4.89% -6.02%
12 Month 0.71% -0.36% -3.58% -4.89% -6.02%

TSP Data

The amount of money in the TSP at the end of November 2018 was over $561 billion. At the end of December 2017, the plan balance for the TSP was just over $542 billion.

Average TSP Balances

At the end of November 2018 (the latest data available), the average TSP balance for FERS employees was $139,560 and an average Roth balance of $12,832. At the end of 2017, the average balance in the TSP for FERS employees was $138,190 and the average Roth balance was $11,692.

TSP Balance
Dec. 2017
Roth Balance
Dec. 2017
TSP Balance
Dec. 2018
Roth Balance
Dec. 2018
FERS $138,190 $11,692 $139,560 $12,832
CSRS $142,240 $17,892 $147,154 $19,900
Uniformed Services $22,421 $6,691 $24,988 $8,080

The TSP stock funds were all down in 2018. That is not a big surprise after a long-running (nine years) of positive gains in the C fund for the past nine years. (Check out all of the annual TSP returns for each TSP fund.)

We wish all TSP investors success in increasing their TSP balances and returns in 2019!

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