I got my annual TSP (Thrift Savings Plan - like a 401(k) for government employees) statement in the mail this week.
My funds are not performing well. My account went down over 40% in 2008.
But there was some good news as well. The statement also highlights my lifetime pre-tax contributions. Thanks to agency matching, I'm still coming out ahead. Not by a whole lot, but hey, positive is positive.
For a while, I considered retreating to the "safe" funds in our TSP. A lot of federal employees made that move this year, but I decided to stay the course. I won't be eligible to retire for almost 29 years, so there's time for the money to come back. Plus I'm continuing to contribute, so I'm buying shares while they're low. They might not go up this year or next year or even in the next five years, but by 29 years from now, I'm hoping for some big numbers.
I only contribute up to the agency match - 5%. If I were smart, I would be contributing the max, but that's not really feasible right now, what with also putting the max into my Roth IRA and trying to save for a down payment on a home. Plus it would be a bit more emotionally taxing to see my hard earned money disappearing.
I can't say what's going to happen in 2009, but it's not looking good. Who knows, 2010 might not be great either. But I'm not investing for a quick fix. This is for the long haul, and history shows that I am making the right move.