About me

I have been a Fed for about 20 years now and have been concerned about whether or not I was doing the right thing with my Thrift Savings Plan allocation for an equal amount of time. But I have been thinking about investing for a lot longer than that. I had a grandfather who made his money in the stock market, and while I was in elementary and middle school he sat me down and taught me about stocks and bonds, P/E ratios, dividends and yields, and all the basic bits of the financial system. He made it a game and got I hooked on the idea of putting money to work for me.

Prior to becoming a Fed, I had an educational background in history, economics and law (with a bit of AirLand Battle doctrine thrown in during my time in the military). Now I work for one of those three-letter agencies which prefers that its employees don’t have a public profile, and for that reason I have created this blog under a pen name.

I don’t give investment advice – to do that you have to be registered with regulatory authorities which I am most assuredly not. I am an investor just like you, although I probably put a little more time into it than most. I’m sharing what I am doing in the hope that it will encourage my friends and colleagues to start actively participating in their Thrift Savings Plan, and because writing is good for sorting things out in my brain. My hope is that we will generate a community of people who will share their ideas, concerns and experiences regarding TSP allocation so we can all learn together.

I am eager for any feedback you would like to share. Please don’t hesitate to comment on blog posts or email me through the Contact page. If you think your question or comment will be of interest to even a single other reader, please post it on the Message Board so we can start to build that community. I will try to respond to any questions or comments you have, although in many instances I will have to do some research and the answer may have to wait for a future blog post.

About the Thrift Savings Plan Allocation Guide Website

Creating this page has been an interesting project so far. For anyone interested, this is what I have done to date:

I am using the free and open source WordPress software to create this blog. I am currently using the WordPress Twenty Sixteen theme.

bluehostI was trying to do this an inexpensively as I could, so my website was hosted by BlueHost ($6.95/month for my own domain name, unlimited email addresses and lots of features including a very simple one-click install of WordPress.

That shared hosting worked fine initially, but as readership grew it was not able to keep up with the traffic. I consequently have switched to much faster (and more expensive) WordPress Optimized cloud hosting from BlueHost, which seems to be keeping up pretty well at the “Blogger” pricing tier. That service also comes with the CloudFlare content delivery network (CDN), which prepositions bits of the website all over the world so it is closer to you.

I have the following plugins installed: Akismet (spam protection), Google Analyticator (enables Google analytics), Google Doc Embedder (allows display of PDF files within a webpage), Jetpack (various tweaks and features), Social Media Widget (adds sharing buttons), WordFence Security (security software), bbPress (message board), and GD bbPress Tools (adds various extras to bbPress). I have also added a widget with code which imports my Twitter feed (which I am much more active on than the email list which I reserve for new substantive posts).

The only service I have added from outside WordPress is the mail list manager, MailChimp. I chose MailChimp because it is one of the two big, reputable, full featured mail list managers – and the one which offers a free version up to 2000 subscribers (which was great for the first few months until the list soared way beyond that limit).

google adsenseAfter considerable internal debate, I enabled advertisements and affiliate links on the website. I don’t have any intention of making money with this project, and so I did not like the impression that ads might give to a visitor. But in the end, I decided this is a not-for-profit project, not a charity, and so I intend to apply any little bit of money which comes in to the expenses which I am incurring, including hosting, domain name and email service. As I put this site together, I won’t write about anything because it has an affiliate program, but if I am writing about a company or product I will check to see if they have an affiliate program. If so, I will sign up so this website will receive a small commission if you buy the product I link to. I won’t recommend anything that I don’t use and appreciate it if you will use the links on these pages if you do find something you are interested in.

 

13 thoughts on “About me”

  1. I’m not sure how your site got on the first page of results of a “tsp allocation advice” on Bing, since it’s under construction and looks brand new, but I’m glad I ran across it.

    Last week I was told about a coworker that actively manages his TSP allocations. I didn’t know people did that. I was told to just use the L fund when I started 9 years ago and have mostly been in the L fund the whole time. After some short research, I’m seeing people claim they average 20-30% returns in their Thrift Savings Plans. I am now looking for resources that can help me do occasional adjustments to beat the L funds. I really appreciate your take in your first blog post and look forward to the follow up explaining the economic cycles.

    Thanks for sharing and please continue!

    1. [email protected] says:

      I am more than a little embarrassed that you stumbled across this page before I had any real content up or had it even a little bit sorted out. I did want to start learning how to create the page so I started experimenting with WordPress, but I assumed that the results would rest anonymously in the nether regions of the internet until I had it up and running and started to make some effort to get the word out. Maybe Bing is just really that good…

      At any rate, thanks very much for the encouragement. My taxes are complete, the work crises have abated and I hope to get the basic strategy up in the next few days so that I can turn to making the site a bit more functional.

  2. I’m perusing your website and figuring that you just started this site earlier this year. I’m actually really surprised if that’s the case. Although I personally am JUST getting involved in my finances, I’m sure TSP strategies have been a topic of conversation at least since the Thrift Savings Plan has been around. I am a fan of your simple approach. You’re not trying to sell anything (obviously I’m not paying) or make your personal analyses seem like some mysterious witchery that a lot of “specialists” enjoy making it out to be. So for that, cheers to 100% S-fund now, and I hope it works out (for all of us!). Thanks!

  3. Chelsea, thanks very much for the kind words. It has been a little less than a year since I started typing out what I thought would be maybe a four or five page email with the basics of the Thrift Savings Plan strategy which had worked for me, and about eight months since I stuck it online to see what would happen. I’m thrilled that so many people have come across it, found it useful and have shared it with others. Hopefully the market will continue to cooperate in 2014 and make us all look smart.

  4. I, too, am a fed. Coming closer to retirement, I began really looking at my finances and studying how to maximize my money.
    I work hard for my money, now I’m making it work for me. I am giving workshops on The Thrift Savings Plan to my fellow employees because I cannot stand that so many do not understand this great benefit. I have a presentation that shows how much more you can make by getting out of the G fund.
    Right now I am riding the “S” train, 100% for the last year and a half and reaping the benefits. :Your S Fund 100% caught my eye and this was after reading into your site.
    Keep up the great work, I’ve signed up and will be recommending this site in my presentations…

  5. That same frustration led to the creation of this website. It is great you are giving your time to share what you have learned with your colleagues and help them maximize their Thrift Savings Plans. Thanks very much for the kind words and the recommendations.

  6. Thank you. Great advice. I moved 50% of my account balance from the G Fund to the S fund and gained over $500.00 on a 5 day period.

  7. Thanks for a great site. I’m a relatively new fed. I’m shocked how many feds in my office don’t contribute at all or very little to their Thrift Savings Plan, and just leave everything in the G fund. I will definitely spread the word about this site.

  8. Many FEDs have investment accounts in addition to the Thrift Savings Plan since the TSP limits yearly contribution amounts.

    How would you suggest managing a portfolio that comprised of say, $500K in the TSP and then an additional $500K in an outside IRA account such as Vanguard? Thank you.

    1. I am actually about halfway through a long post about my non-TSP investing so look for that soon. The short answer is that most of my investments are in index funds largely mirroring my TSP allocation.

  9. Hi TS Paul,

    First I want to thank you and let you know I appreciate all of your efforts here.

    I am currently maxing out my TSP yearly limit. I was thinking about opening a Vanguard account and investing in mutual funds that mimic the TSP funds (VFINX), (VEXMX), (VBMFX) etc. and actively trade between them as you do with the business cycle.

    I don’t expect to get rich but would like a better chance of outperforming a lifecycle fund (I understand the risks involved).

    I’m a novice investor. Do you think I’m on the right track with this plan? I will be at the age to retire in 15 years and need to increase the money available when I retire. Thanks

    1. It is great that you are able to max out your Thrift Savings Plan contributions – that is probably the single most important thing you can do. As far as your investing plan, it sounds like you are doing pretty much exactly what I am doing, so from my perspective you are definitely on the right track. Good luck to both of us.

  10. TS Paul,

    Thanks for the next level in my basic understanding of investing strategy and the markets a a whole. You have a great knack for articulating financial information clearly and in a way that seems to really make sense.

    Been maxed on the TSP for the past few years. Have looked to several sites for ideas and information from folks smarter than me? One thing, I kept having questions about their philosophy/strategy that has left me scratching my head-like is really the best approach, I’m not keeping up with the market.

    I have a separate IRA and have attempted to pick some stocks. A few dividend payers have done fairly well over the years. I love Buffet, but have not bought BRK-b, back to the dividend idea. Any sage comments?

    Keep up the great work!. I guess as they saw …”when the student is ready the teacher will appear.”

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