Club Fed millionaire: Membership 23,000 and growing

If either of your arm joints permit it, give yourself a pat on the back. You are in very good company as a member of the growing number of rank-and-file federal workers who are millionaires — right now, today.

As of April 3, the number of federal and postal workers and retirees with million-dollar-plus Thrift Savings Plan accounts had grown to 23,098. That is an amazing testament to folks who’ve maxed out their payroll deduction contributions to the TSP over decades.

They also invested in and stuck with the TSP’s C Fund — the 500 biggest U.S. stocks — and the small cap S Fund, which covers most of the rest of the U.S. stock market.

The largest account balance is $6,190,502, but that’s not some GS 7 down the hall. It’s probably a member of Congress or federal judge who brought his or her outside 401K and retirement account into government.

I’ve been in touch with more than a dozen self-made TSP millionaires who are based all over the country. We’ve documented several of their stories from every grade, occupation, agency and geographic location. One TSP millionaire in Florida is writing a guest column about how they did it, which will run here later this month.

The bottom line is these were not rich people when they started out. And nobody gave them anything. They earned it the hard way, with the help of a 5 percent match from Uncle Sam.

While hundreds of thousands of TSP investors moved to the treasury securities G Fund during the Great Recession, the TSP millionaire stayed in the stock market and continued to buy when shares were at record lows.

Equally eye-popping is the number of current and retired government workers who are on the verge of becoming TSP millionaires. Right now there are 53,730 with accounts worth between $750,000 and $999,999. Thanks to the rising stock market many of them have crossed over — in a good way — to a better place among the millionaires.

Thrift Savings Plan — May 2018 Returns
Account value Average investing time (years) Participants
$1 million+ 29.06 23,098
 $750,000-$999,000, 27.36 53,730
$500,000-$749,000 24.91 146,979
$250,000-$499,000 21.9 451,108
$50,000-$249,000 16.36 1,463,489
$50,000 or less 6.71 2,948,769

What all of them have in common is that they invested heavily, or in some cases exclusively in the C and S funds, and stuck with them through thick and thin. They kept their money in the C and S funds during the Great Recession and continued to buy into the market even after it bottomed out on April 9, 2009.

According to the most recent headcount there are about 5.1 million TSP participants. That includes active and retired feds, former feds who kept their money in the TSP and members of the uniformed military services.

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Amelia Brust

Several studies, including one by Popular Mechanics in 2007, have found the safest seat on an airplane in the event of a crash to be those at the rear. The study estimated a 69 percent survival rate for seats behind the wings’ trailing edge, 56 percent survival over the wing, and 49 percent survival for those at the front. Although Boeing and Airbus have issued statements claiming the evidence is not yet conclusive.

Sources: The Telegraph