rnch saideasily the best advantage a federal civil service employee has is the Thrift Savings Plan (the fed's version a a 401-K).
i've been "maxed out" in it for 24 years; and will be until i take early retirement.
Hey, I invest 15% of my base pay into the TSP. Last year, my investment was down 24% for the year because of the economic downturn. Then after some changes in strategies, it was up 8% over the 12 month period ending on 24 AUG. Now, as of the other day, I am up 21% over this time 12 months ago. And it still looks miniscule. I've only been investing in it since 2005. I wish we had matching funds. OMG!! At least they're tax deferred and all contributions made from a combat zone are tax exempt!!
Anyways, I started investing directly into the markets back in March and I'm already up about 67%. It has peaked around 80% before though.
Now I'm trying to sell my car and put that cash into a 5 year CD at 3.51% APY. This is to go towards my down payment for my first-home purchase in about 5 years from now.
I also have about 4K or 5K in Savings Bonds from the '90s.
I also have a sizeable savings/checking account for emergencies and a credit card with very low interest rate (7%) and a lot of credit on it. Also for emergencies. My aim is to keep my FICO score around 800. That'll do the trick...
When I retire from the Army in about 3 years, I will get a $2K monthly pension for life. That will take care of the mortgage, property tax and insurance.