Want to have a $1 million-plus nest egg to play with when you retire? That’s on top of the inflation-indexed lifetime annuity you will get from the government plus Social Security credits.
All it takes is common sense, hard work and time, which is going to pass whether you wind up a millionaire or not.
And a part-time job helps.
Most financial types — including Vanguard’s John Bogle and CBS Moneywatch’s Alan Roth — say the TSP is the best 401k plan around. Unlike many private sector 401k plans, federal and postal investors can get a 5 percent match from the government if they put in at least 5 percent. That’s the equivalent of a tax-deferred pay raise.
We talked to a 27-year fed who said he maxed out his contributions (paying his bills via a part-time job) and stuck with the stock market funds through good times and bad.
He said he was happy to tell his story and hoped it would help others.
“It took me about 27 years of TSP investing to reach $1 million. My TSP philosophy was simply contributing as much as I could and investing mostly in the C (common stock) fund.
“My employment started in 1986 and TSP started in 1987. The early years, new employees with less than five years of service were restricted from investing in the C fund. There were many years of the C fund earning 30 percent, and I benefited from those strong years.
“During the market drop in 2007, I was able to contribute more due to that I became over 50. And during 2013-14, my TSP balance increased by 40 percent. … I was not a high-wage earner throughout most of my career, and I didn’t make many TSP transfer investment changes.
“I believe that my TSP success was due to three things: Always maximizing my contribution, investing aggressively and having a part-time job. In the first 10 years of my career, I contributed to my TSP more than I could afford to pay my bills, so a part-time job helped me in those lean years.” — A.G.
Sounds simple. But simple, for some people, can be nerve- wracking and seem reckless.
He maxed out his contributions. He stuck with the C-fund in good times and bad times and in the first 10 years he invested, as he said, “More than I could afford,” so he got a part-time job to close that gap. He benefited from the good years in the C-fund and continued buying shares during the recession when prices were low.
Whether his 27-year trek strikes you as brilliant, dumb or just good luck, he is a millionaire now. Most of us reading (or typing) this aren’t. Yet.
In any case, he’s a TSP millionaire today, which is more than most of us can say. But there is still hope. More on that tomorrow.