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What would your TSP account be worth if you had fully invested over the past 30 years?
The charts below represent the returns of each fund based on monthly investments of the maximum yearly TSP deferral limits*, from the date of each fund’s inception to the current year. Figures are approximate and will differ depending on actual investment dates and actual amounts invested. Remember: past fund performance does not predict future returns, but the below is a good illustration of what investors can do when investing through thick and thin over the long-term!
New!beta Check how you would’ve done in the G, F, and/or C Funds for any timeframe from 1988 here.
Scroll over the chart to see approximate returns of investing the equivalent of the maximum deferral limit* on a monthly basis from 1988 through 2021 - a total of approximately $440,000.
S, I Funds
The S and I Funds were inaugurated in 2001, thus the following charts are based on returns from 2001 to 2021:
Scroll over the chart to see approximate returns of investing the equivalent of the maximum deferral limit* on a monthly basis from 2001 through 2021, or approximately $325,000.
Check out this post to see similar returns for the L Funds!
Do you need to max out contributions to build wealth? No! See this article for returns over a 40-year period after investing even a bare minimum: “What Does $1,000 a Year Matter?”.
*The deferral amounts used in the examples above can be reached either as a combination of individual and matching contributions (for civilian and military BRS participants), or solely from individual contributions (for uniformed service members who do not receive a government match). Thus a civilian government worker making $90,000 would reach the $19,500 deferral rate for 2020 used in the examples above by contributing $15,000 and receiving $4,500 in 5% government matching contributions, for $19,500 in total contributions for the year. Civilian government workers who receive matching contributions can defer up to the maximum deferral rate — $19,500 in 2020, plus catch-up deferrals for those over 50 — and still receive a match of 5% of their regular salary.
For a complete discussion of the methodology used and calculations, see this page.Related topics: long-term-investingc-fundf-fundg-funds-fundi-fund
Thrift Savings Plan Monthly Returns
The Thrift Savings Plan is a retirement savings plan offered to private sector employees. A wide selection of funds are available with differnet objectives, investment strategies, and composition depending on the client's risk tolerance and objective.
Thrift Savings Plan G Fund Monthly Returns
|Current (Sep 2021)||Previous (Aug 2021)||% Chg Prev||% Chg 1Y|
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There are currently 15 investment funds in the Thrift Savings Plan. Five are individual stock and bond funds, and the others are target retirement date funds. The table below summarizes the performance and risk characteristics of the five primary TSP Investment Funds . Click on any link in the table header to see performance charts and other details for that fund.
|TSP Investment Funds|
8/31/1990 - 10/14/2021
|Last Price (10/14/2021)||16.6820||20.9146||66.8059||86.2367||38.7611|
|Annual Return Since 8/31/1990||4.3%||5.9%||11.1%||11.8%||6.1%|
|Annualized Standard Deviation ||0.3%||3.8%||18.2%||20.3%||17.7%|
|Maximum Drawdown ||-||-6.6%||-55.2%||-57.4%||-60.9%|
|Sharpe Ratio ||-||0.42||0.44||0.45||0.18|
|Value of $1,000 invested on 8/31/1990||$3,710||$5,937||$26,231||$32,236||$6,257|
The Thrift Savings Plan also offers 10 Lifecycle Funds. The table below shows the historical performance of the original (“Classic”) Lifecycle Funds, which became available for investment in August 2005: 
|“Classic” TSP Lifecycle Funds|
8/1/2005 - 10/14/2021
|Last Price (10/14/2021)||23.2027||42.4732||48.3601||29.0722|
|Annual Return Since 8/1/2005||4.4%||7.3%||7.9%||10.5%|
|Annualized Standard Deviation||3.9%||13.3%||15.3%||14.1%|
|Value of $1,000 invested on 8/1/2005||$1,999||$3,114||$3,447||$2,907|
The table below shows the performance of the new Lifecycle Funds, which became available in July 2020:
|New TSP Lifecycle Funds|
7/1/2020 - 10/14/2021
|Last Price (10/14/2021)||12.0062||12.7677||13.2595||14.3232||14.3231||14.3230|
|Annual Return Since 7/1/2020||15.3%||20.9%||24.5%||32.2%||32.2%||32.2%|
|Annualized Standard Deviation||6.3%||8.7%||10.2%||13.1%||13.1%||13.1%|
|Value of $1,000 invested on 7/1/2020||$1,201||$1,277||$1,326||$1,432||$1,432||$1,432|
Individual TSP Funds
- The TSP G Fund (Government Securities Investment Fund) is invested in short-term U.S. Treasury securities.
- The TSP F Fund (Fixed Income Index Investment Fund) is invested in U.S. investment-grade bonds, as tracked by the Barclays Capital Aggregate Bond Index.
- The TSP C Fund (Common Stock Index Investment Fund) is invested in large capitalization U.S. stocks. It tracks the Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) Stock Index.
- The TSP S Fund (Small Capitalization Stock Index Fund) is invested in the stocks of small and medium-sized U.S. companies. It tracks the Dow Jones U.S. Completion Total Stock Market Index.
- The TSP I Fund (International Stock Index Investment Fund) is invested in international stocks from 21 developed countries. It tracks the Morgan Stanley Capital International EAFE (Europe, Australasia, Far East) Index.
TSP Lifecycle Funds
The TSP Lifecycle Funds are target retirement date funds, invested in a professionally designed mix of the five individual TSP funds (G, F, C, S, and I Fund). TSP investors choose a fund based on when they expect to retire and start making withdrawals:
- The TSP L Income Fund is for participants who are already withdrawing their accounts in monthly payments, or who need their money in the near future.
- The TSP L 2025 Fund is for participants who will withdraw their money beginning 2021 through 2027.
- The TSP L 2030 Fund is for participants who will withdraw their money beginning 2028 through 2032.
- The TSP L 2035 Fund is for participants who will withdraw their money beginning 2033 through 2037.
- The TSP L 2040 Fund is for participants who will withdraw their money beginning 2038 through 2042.
- The TSP L 2045 Fund is for participants who will withdraw their money beginning 2043 through 2047.
- The TSP L 2050 Fund is for participants who will withdraw their money beginning 2048 through 2052.
- The TSP L 2055 Fund is for participants who will withdraw their money beginning 2053 through 2057.
- The TSP L 2060 Fund is for participants who will withdraw their money beginning 2058 through 2062.
- The TSP L 2065 Fund is for participants who will begin to withdraw their money in 2062 or later.
- The first TSP fund became available to investors in April 1987, and others followed in 1988 and 2001. TSP.gov has published monthly fund returns since inception, and daily fund price history since 2003. To allow for a longer performance comparison, we extended the available TSP fund price history for the C, G, F, I, and S funds with their underlying index data. For example, we extended the TSP C Fund with the S&P 500 Total Return index. The same was done for the other TSP funds and their underlying index. The indexes we use do not account for fund expenses, so earlier returns are slightly higher. However, in practice the difference is not significant: the TSP funds have extremely low expense ratios (0.027% per year as of this writing).
- Standard deviation, also known as historical volatility, is used by investors as a gauge for the amount of expected volatility. Volatile TSP funds like the C, S, and I fund have a high standard deviation, while the deviation of the G and F funds is lower. When comparing investments, a low standard deviation is preferable.
- Drawdown: the peak-to-trough decline in the TSP fund value, measured as a percentage between the peak and the trough. Perhaps best expressed in the historical drawdown charts for each fund, which show the magnitude and duration of each periodic decline. A good investment strategy aims to minimize drawdowns.
- The Sharpe Ratio measures risk-adjusted performance. It's calculated by subtracting the risk-free interest rate from the rate of return for a specific fund, and dividing the result by the standard deviation of the fund returns. Since we only track TSP funds on this website, we use the G fund returns as our risk-free investment. When comparing investments, a high Sharpe Ratio is preferable.
- There are 10 active TSP Lifecycle Funds, and two retired funds. The L 2010 Fund was retired in December 2010. The TSP L 2020 Fund was retired in June 2020. When L Funds are retired, their assets are transferred into the L Income Fund.
Performance charts tsp
We are going to look at the 3 equity funds and compare their composition to understand what we are investing in. It illuminates why following the academia portfolio allocations really makes little sense these days.
The index the TSP International fund tracks has not been around as long as the TSP S fund index so we first look at the two US funds over the longer period of time.
The TSP S fund started in 2003 near the bottom of a bear market. It's outperformance is one of chance having under-performed since 1994 when the index the fund tracks was first designed.
Combined the TSP C fund and TSP S fund account for the bulk of US companies listed on US exchanges. The TSP C fund has around 500 of the largest US companies, hence the name SP500. The TSP S fund captures all the rest of the US stocks and this is why I like to call it the non-sp500 index for simplicity. In the late 1990s, there were over 12,000 companies in the US and now we are sitting with about 4000 of which 3500 are in the TSP S fund.
While the TSP S fund has 7x as many stocks, the total value of these companies is only around 20% of the total US stock market. The TSP C fund accounts for 80%. There are many SP500 funds outside of TSP, but there are few exactly like the TSP S fund - one is the Vanguard fund (VXF ETF) that tracks the same index. We use this to watch the real-time performance of the TSP S fund because ETFs trade like stocks.
If you look at the TSP Lifecycle funds you will note that among the equity funds, they each hold a percentage based on the market value of each index. The ratio between the C and S fund matches their values (4 to 1). If you hold a 50/50 allocation then you are over-weighting small caps. To hold the total US market, you need to allocate 4x as much to the C fund as the S fund.
While the funds hold stocks, we break down the composition into sectors for a better understanding of how each sector of the market is performing. There are sector funds outside of the TSP and the Tech sector is very popular today. Here is a snap shot from 15 August 2021 of the weighting of each sector in each fund.
In the sector breakdown above you can see a huge difference in composition of the US funds and International fund. The IT and Communication Services sectors account for about 40% of the SP500 index versus less than 15% of the TSP I fund (International fund). Tech has dominated returns, revenue growth, profits and cash flow this cycle globally. And therefore these sectors have dominated buybacks and pushed their stocks even higher on this economy-eroding use of cash.
The old industrial sectors only account for 16% of the SP500 and 21% of the S fund today, but 30% of the TSP I fund. The leading sector in the International fund is the financial sector and many banks in Europe are in deep trouble and explain the $120 billion per month of money printing by the European Central Bank today.
I have not recommended the TSP I fund since my services inception because of its performance based on these factors. I may in the future but some factors need to change.
So does this mean we are missing out on overseas growth? Oh contraire.
The SP500 Tech Sector's revenue is 60% non-US revenue. For the SP500 overall, about 40% is international revenues. The point is the SP500's revenue IS geographically diversified already. And if one adds in the TSP I fund to your allocations you are actually under-weighting the Tech sector because the TSP I fund only holds 10% Tech. Do not dilute your *revenue* diversification by holding the TSP I fund or Lifecycle funds.
How important is Tech to the US markets and the out-performance of the US over International fund:
US listed tech is running away with the profits and cash flow in the global economy.
The chart above shows the growing profit margins of the US economy, not price or valuations of the stock market. Higher profit margins do lead to higher valuations but price has moved much further than these valuations imply make sense. But it more than the tech sector, we now have a few mega companies dominating the scene and they also include Amazon which is a quasi-tech company.
Sometimes the mega companies are the only show in town. They have even become defensive plays in the stock market. When small caps underperform the mega caps for an extended time, this is a warning sign the broader market is weak.
These five companies are in the TSP C fund. Apple alone is worth more than the 2000 companies in the Russell 2000 which are a subset of the TSP S fund. So the large US companies bolster your returns and provide a defensive anchor as the market cycle turns down.
How does all of this inform our allocation decisions?
The TSP I fund does not offer a diversification advantage today over holding just the US equity funds. The TSP C fund is diversified not only in the TSP I fund countries but also the emerging markets in terms of revenue. Adding the TSP I fund reduces our weighting to Tech which has hurt its returns over the US funds. The other large factor is artificial but has an impact on price movements. The US has buybacks but other countries do not. I do not like this feature in our laws, but it is a consideration in allocation decisions.
So when the market is trending higher one needs to determine how to allocate between the TSP C and S fund. We've mentioned the seasonal considerations and the top and bottom of rallies and bull/bear markets. Otherwise, the far larger consideration is how much to allocate to the safe and stable funds versus these equity funds due to the fact market cycles have not been outlawed.
Why would the market cycle like seen in the next chart?
Is it the economy and earnings? No. Earnings do cycle a bit, but the larger moves are simply people paying higher prices for the same $1 of revenue or earnings until it reaches an extreme and then reverts to something reasonable.
Do you know how much you are paying today for $1 of SP500 revenue today compared to the historical mean of $1 price per $1 revenue? It may not matter in any one year, but over the full market cycle it matters to know where you are in this cycle.
Both the bear markets shown above lost over 50% in the TSP C fund and more in the small cap fund. A 50% loss requires a 100% gain to breakeven which typically takes many years.
Back up to our overview
TSP Allocation Advice
or press ahead to
Best TSP Allocation in 2022
Latest Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) Returns: Monthly and Annual
Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) Summary of Returns
Below are the TSP fund performance figures for the G, F, C, S, I and L investment funds as calculated by the Thrift Savings Plan. A description of each of the TSP funds here.
Previous Calendar Years — TSP Fund Performance
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Current Year (2021) — Thrift Savings Plan Returns
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Compare Investment Options for 2021
5 Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) Investment Funds
The federal Thrift Savings Plan offers five different individual investment funds for participants:
The Government Securities Investment (G) Fund
The G Fund is invested in short-term U.S. Treasury securities. It gives you the opportunity to earn rates of interest similar to those of long-term Government securities with no risk of loss of principal. Payment of principal and interest is guaranteed by the U.S. Government. The interest rate paid by the G Fund securities is calculated monthly, based on the market yields of all U.S. Treasury securities with 4 or more years to maturity.
The Fixed Income Index Investment (F) Fund
The F Fund is invested in a bond index fund that tracks the Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond Index. This is a broad index representing the U.S. Government, mortgage-backed, corporate, and foreign government sectors of the U.S. bond market. This fund offers you the opportunity to earn rates of return that exceed money market fund rates over the long term (particularly during periods of declining interest rates).
The Common Stock Index Investment (C) Fund
The C Fund is invested in a stock index fund that tracks the Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) Index. This is a broad market index made up of the stocks of 500 large to medium-sized U.S. companies. It offers you the potential to earn the higher investment returns associated with equity investments.
The Small Capitalization Stock Index (S) Fund
The S Fund is invested in a stock index fund that tracks the Dow Jones U.S. Completion Total Stock Market (TSM) Index. This is a market index of small and medium-sized U.S. companies that are not included in the S&P 500 Index. It offers you the opportunity to earn potentially higher investment returns that are associated with “small cap” investments. The S Fund has greater volatility than the C Fund.
International Stock Index Investment (I) Fund
The I Fund is invested in a stock index fund that tracks the MCSI EAFE (Europe, Australasia, Far East) Index. This is a broad international market index, made up of primarily large companies in 22 developed countries. It gives you the opportunity to invest in international stock markets and to gain a global equity exposure in your portfolio.
What are the L Funds?
The L Funds, or “Lifecycle” funds, use professionally determined investment mixes that are tailored to meet investment objectives based on various time horizons. The objective is to strike an optimal balance between the expected risk and return associated with each fund. The L Funds’ strategy is to invest in an appropriate mix of the G, F, C, S, and I Funds for a particular time horizon, or target retirement date. The investment mix of each L Fund becomes more conservative as its target date approaches.
Because the TSP funds are trust funds that are regulated by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and not by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), they do not have ticker symbols (i.e., unique identifiers assigned to securities, including mutual funds, registered with the SEC). You can, however, obtain additional information about the underlying indexes that certain TSP funds track by visiting the following websites:
Filed Under: Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), TSP returnsSours: https://www.myfederalretirement.com/tsp-returns/
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