A TSP Fund Up 71% Since March?

Can a TSP Fund go up 71% within one year? This one has.

At the end of November, the C Fund was priced at $53.84 per share. At the end of March, it was priced at $37.97 per share. This is a gain of 41.7% in eight months for the C Fund.

71% Gain in One TSP Fund

While the comeback for the C Fund since March is spectacular, it was not the best performing fund in the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) in November or for the year to date.

Since March, the S Fund was up more than 71%. The S Fund was also up 18.26% in November and 22.95% for the year to date (YTD).

An investor watching stock prices and deciding to sell stock funds when facing the fear of losing even more money did not benefit from this huge gain. In other words, those that sold their stock funds when the market dropped fast ended up locking in a temporary loss.

Some TSP investors are certainly in a much better frame of mind now than they were at the end of March. Many (probably most) of us were just learning about COVID-19 and actual facts about it were scarce. Based on fear and an unknown future, stock prices dropped rapidly on the news about all the people who were going to become infected and that many would die as a result of the disease.

How to Lock in Stock Value Losses

The C Fund lost 19.65% in the first quarter of the year and this core TSP Fund was down 12.4% in March. In March, TSP investors transferred more than $15 billion into the G Fund. How much of this $15 billion was transferred into the G Fund before or after March 23rd, we do not know. Based on past history of how investors reacted in significant stock downturns, it is likely that a significant portion of the $15 billion was transferred around March 23rd.

Of course, some TSP investors, based on comments they submitted on articles, took advantage of the momentary panic and bought more shares. Anyone who did that, and who may have been thinking about retiring in the near future, would now be in a much better position to have a more financially comfortable retirement.

TSP Stock Funds Up Significantly in November

The S&P 500 zoomed up 11% in November. This is the best return for this stock index since April. The TSP’s C Fund is based on the S&P 500 index. The C Fund closely matched the S&P index and the C Fund was up 10.95% in November.

While the C Fund did extremely well, it was not the best performing stock fund in the TSP.

That award goes to the S Fund was was up 18.26% in November. This fund is up 22.95% for the year. That makes the S Fund the best-performing fund in the Thrift Savings Plan so far in 2020.

All TSP Returns

Here are the results for all of the Thrift Savings Plan Funds for the month, year-to-date and the past 12 months.

G FundF FundC FundS FundI Fund
12 Month1.05%7.27%17.36%25.59%6.72%
L IncomeL 2025L 2030L 2035L 2040
12 Month4.81%n/a10.22%n/a11.86%
L 2045L 2050L 2055L 2060L 2065
12 Monthn/a13.24%n/an/an/a

You can check out all of the current and the historical monthly returns for each of the TSP funds in the monthly rates section at TSPDataCenter.com. The daily rates and the yearly rates for each fund are also available.

So, with all of the volatility, disappointments, and surprises in 2020, the stock market returns and your TSP investments are showing a strong positive return. No doubt, many readers were discouraged earlier this year when looking at their TSP balances and contemplating how the dips would impact their retirement income. For those who have stayed the course, their patience has been rewarded.

With positive vaccine news now emerging and the potential impact this could have on the COVID-19 pandemic, chances are the market can still go higher.

Keep in mind, the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit an all-time record in November. Perhaps the market will continue going up but there are likely to be more dips along the way.

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