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Four Practical Military Money Tips

Thrift Savings Plan
By Eric Morris

Thrift savings plan or TSP are tax deferred retirement savings and investment plans administered by the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board or FRTIB for federal employees. Thrift savings plans work on the same principle as 401 (k) plans offered by many private employers. All the employees who fall under the Federal Employees Retirement System or FERS and the Civil Service Retirement System or CSRS are eligible to participate in TSP. There are different requirements specified for both FERS and CSRS groups. Federal employees have to make voluntary contributions to their TSP accounts. Additionally, these contributions are not in any way considered a part of their regular FERS Basic Annuity or CSRS annuity contributions.

Thrift savings plans are also known as defined contribution plans, because the retirement income obtained from the TSP account depends on the contribution made by employees or their agencies during working years. The earnings accumulated through these contributions also affect the retirement income incurred. FERS employees are entitled to thrift savings plan as an essential part of their entire retirement package, besides the FERS Basic Annuity and Social Security plans. For CSRS employees, a thrift savings plan is not included as a necessary part of the retirement plan, but rather as a supplement to CSRS annuities.

[Updated: You may elect to contribute any dollar amount or percentage (1 to 100) of your basic pay. However, your annual dollar total cannot exceed the Internal Revenue Code limit, which is $16,500 for 2009 and $16,500 for 2010]. This option is available as soon as they join federal employment. Benefits such as Agency Automatic (1%) Contributions, Agency Matching Contributions and immediate vesting in these contributions are also simultaneously activated. CSRS participants are eligible to contribute to their TSP accounts, but they do not receive any agency contributions.

For all types of participants, thrift savings plans offer immediate employee contributions, before-tax savings and tax-deferred investment earnings, low administrative and investment expenses and a choice of five investment funds. These five investment funds are Government Securities Investment (G) Fund, Fixed Income Index Investment (F) Fund, Common Stock Index Investment (C) Fund, Small Capitalization Stock Index Investment (S) Fund, and International Stock Index Investment (I) Fund. [Updated: Or you can choose one of the L-funds, which diversifies your account allocation for you using the other five funds, and is tailored to different time horizons.]

Savings provides detailed information on Savings, Savings Bond, US Savings Bond, World Savings and more. Savings is affiliated with Savings Account Online.


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TSP Talk is in no way affiliated with the U.S. government, or military Thrift Savings Plan,, or any other government agency.  TSP Talk does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this report, nor does assume any liability for any loss that may result from reliance by any person upon any such information or opinions. Such information and opinions are subject to change without notice and are for general information only. 

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