TSP G Fund- The Unicorn of Investing


4 Reasons TSP G Fund is the Unicorn of Investing

I’ve mentioned the Pluses and Minuses of the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) here many times.  I’m on record stating that overall I’m a big fan of the TSP.

Recently, Congress passed regulations that automatically enroll new hires in to ‘age appropriate’ Lifecycle (or ‘L’ Funds) based on employee age.  This was done because the G Fund is viewed as being less lucrative or too conservative for most folks.  Before we dive head first in to L funds, let’s extoll the virtues of the TSP G Fund.

Here’s why I like the TSP’s G Fund.

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Happy New Year!
Before I do 2015 Predictions, let’s review how I did for 2014.  It looks like I got 5 out of 8 predictions correct!

1. Prediction: Feds, You’ll get your 1% raise, (if you’re still working).

Result: Correct.  Ok, this one took place in early 2014 (This one was pretty easy).

2. Prediction: Then again, maybe you won’t.
There’s no guarantee there won’t be another round of furloughs this year once the Defense Service Chiefs figure out they are going to run out of ‘Gas Money’ by August.
Result: Wrong.  Lots of talk, but there was no government shutdown and associated Shutdown Furlough in 2014. 
3. Prediction: 16,000 of you will take/receive a RIF in 2014.
Bold Prediction, you say? Try these numbers on for size:

The DoD is looking at trimming ~6300 heads in the next few years due to Sequestration- Divide this number by 4 yrs to get ~1,600 DoD RIFs/year.

The Army alone has stated it will reduce its end-strength by ~14% by FY2017, and that civilian headcount reduction will be in-line with Active Duty end-strength reduction. So knock 14% off of an Army Strong civilian workforce of ~264,000, which is 37,000 heads to RIF.
…Divide this number by 3 years (3 years left through FY2017) to get ~12,000 Army RIFs/year.
This adds up to 13,000 DoD RIFs (ALONE) per year.
Note that DoD makes up almost 41 percent of the federal workforce, so divide 13,000 by 40% to get ~32,000 RIFs out of the Executive Branch per year… However, since other Federal Agencies are not typically smacked as hard as DoD during budget crunches, I’m going to ‘whack this number in half’ and say there will be 16,000 Federal Civilian RIFs in 2014.

Result: Time to eat a bucket of Kentucky Fried Crow.  It looks like only a total of 1,700 employees took what OPM calls ‘Early Out Retirement’ in FY2014 (there is no data block for VERA on OPM’s statistics page).  There were only 560 RIF’s listed in OPM’s employment statistics database for FY14. 

4. Prediction: Over 120,000 of you will retire- Of which, more than 25,000 of will retire in January.
Another Bold Prediction, you say?
Consider that OPM’s CY2013 figures were ~108,000 retirees, with 22k of the retirements in January. Note that we’re now in CY2014, and the ‘No FERS Employee Retires in 2013 Act’ is no longer in effect-. You may now sell-back your 1,000+ hours of sick leave (that’s half a year) and use them to pad your FERS Annuity time-in-service calculation.

 Result: Close.  103,000 Retirements (by FERS /CSRS applications) in CY2014 by OPM’s retirement processing backlog page. Of these, 17,000 were in January.

 If you look at OPM’s employment statistics, there were a total of 142,000 Federal Employee Separations in FY14, of which roughly 54,000 were ‘Retirement’ and 49,000 were ‘Quit’. 

5. Prediction: FERS Annuity will continue to get chipped away.
The ‘Camel’s Nose’ is already Under the Tent.
And I’m not talking about the funny Geico Camel asking you what day it is, I’m talking about the ugly nose that wants to get in under the tent and raid pension benefits of Feds and Veterans. Congress has already gotten away with slashing the pension benefit of present and future Active Duty Retirees by tens of thousands of dollars. While there is a lot of Squawking and Harrumphing about this taking place in the Senate, Squawking and Harrumphing is not voting, and a LOT of votes from both sides of the aisle are necessary to remedy the attack on Military pension benefits.

Result:  Correct.  FERS remains under attack. Potential reductions in benefits on the backend (re-calculating inflation using ‘Chained CPI’) and reductions of benefits on the frontend (increased salary deferrals) continue to be suggested.

6. Prediction: TIP will not be restored to its previous $245 per month benefit.
There was plenty of time to fix this (the IRS Notice came in October), and it didn’t get fixed. Enough Said.

Result: True!

7. Prediction: Young Feds will leave in droves.
Many Millenials are up to their eyeballs in student debt (btw, Student Loan Debt is the next Housing Bubble, but that’s another topic for discussion).
Taking a Fed job as a first gig out of college makes sense for a lot of Millenials, as long as the stability, compensation, and benefits are in-line with private sector offers. However, Young Feds will soon:
  • Recognize they have a false sense of job security because they have a RIF target on their backs,
  • Notice their college classmates are earning as much or more in the private sector, and
  • Realize that their ‘take home’ pay is less due to ‘Fake FERS‘ – Increased FERS Annuity contributions for newly-hired Feds.

 Result:  Correct.  Almost 27,000 Employees aged 20-34 ‘Quit’ in FY14.   This is 57% of the total workforce’s 49,000 ‘Quits’ in FY14.  This is a pretty massive outflow of young talent, considering persons aged 20-34 made up only 18.8% of the federal workforce (385,680 of total 2,046,000) as of June 2014.

8. Prediction: FEHB Plan benefits and options will be curtailed in October.
The FEHB ‘Self-Plus-One’ option is almost a done deal.
Also, Look for fewer FEHB plans to be offered, and for increases in fees/reductions in FEHB benefits in order to avoid the ObamaCare ‘Cadillac Tax’ in 2018.

 Result: Wrong.  I think FEHB actually added 1 plan in CY2015 (257 offered, up from 256 in CY2014).  The number of Nationwide Fee-For-Service insurance plans available remained static, at 15.


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It’s a well-documented fact that I am a big fan of the Federal Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), which is Uncle Sam’s version of the 401(k).

It’s also well documented that I’m a critic of TSP for being a bit too Vanilla.  The Vanilla investment offerings in TSP are a likely cause for the $10 Billion in closed TSP accounts last year.  Due to the wonders of the G Fund, I’m no advocate of zeroing-out your entire TSP balance, but recently FedSmith.com put together a good argument pointing out the ‘other’ fatal flaw in TSP- The inflexibility of TSP withdrawals. Continue reading

FEHB OPM Health Care Rates 2014

Happy Open Season, everyone!

OPM announced its Federal Employee Health Benefit (FEHB) rate hikes for 2015 FEHB Open Season.

OPM states that the average rate hike is 3.2 percent, which is not too bad.  The real news is not quite this good-  Since none of the ‘averages’ are participation-weighted (that is, they pay no attention to what FEHB plans Feds actually select),  the averages provided by OPM, GovExec, and FedTimes are essentially useless.

I’ll give you the only statistic that matters here, the one that applies to 40 percent of Feds.  Continue reading