Thrift Savings Plan

TSPWebsite: Thrift Savings Plan (TSP).  The Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) is a retirement savings and investment plan for Federal employees and members of the uniformed services, including the Ready Reserve.  It was established by Congress in the Federal Employees’ Retirement System Act of 1986 and offers the same types of savings and tax benefits that many private corporations offer their employees under 401(k) plans.  By participating in the TSP, Federal employees have the opportunity to save part of their income for retirement, receive matching agency contributions, and reduce their current taxes.

In addition to the TSP site itself, a great source for understanding the TSP program and the options available for TSP participants – uniformed and civilian – is the official TSP YouTube site. Various topics covered in multiple videos include understanding why investment expenses matter, understanding the Roth TSP, frequently asked questions, and withdrawals along with many more.

The TSP is considered among the best available retirement savings plans.  One indication of that fact?  The low expense ratio.  In 2012, the expense ratio for each of the available funds was 0.027%.  For those that are familiar with the negative impact of fees, that incredibly low rate can be appreciated.  If you are a uniformed service or civilian member, I strongly encourage you to visit both sites as they will assist you in fully understanding the TSP and how it can benefit you in your quest for a comfortable retirement.  Additionally, if you know someone, perhaps a family member that is a service member or civilian employee, you should encourage them to check out both sites.

You can follow the TSP on Twitter @tsp4gov

Blogger-in-Chief here at RetirementSavvy and author of Sin City Greed, Cream City Hustle and RENDEZVOUS WITH RETIREMENT: A Guide to Getting Fiscally Fit.


  1. Great review! I really like the low expense ratios and the fact that they now offer a Roth TSP.

    • Absolutely! The TSP is generally recognized as one of the best managed retirement plans and I always recommend that uniformed members of the armed services and Federal employees take advantage of the low expenses. Thanks for stopping by, Marvin.

  2. I stand corrected! I was involved with the TSP admin people years ago. Back then it was self funded, but those were the old days of gov surpluses, so it doesn’t surprise me the funding situation haas changed since then.

    • I believe the larger point is still relevant. The fees are so low – probably lower than nearly any other retirement plan most average people have access to – as to be largely insignificant. Appreciate the participation, my friend.

  3. Savvy,

    A interesting fact about the TSP is that it is a completely self funded entity. People who work for less than 3 years for the government forfeit their match if they leave the gov. Those funds, know as Mr. Forfeiture, fund the TSP administration.


    • Thanks for dropping by, RBD, and participating in the conversation. The program isn’t completely self funded. As noted on the site, “Expenses are offset by the forfeitures of Agency Automatic (1%) Contributions of FERS employees who leave Federal service before they are vested, other forfeitures, and loan fees. Because these amounts are not sufficient to cover all of the TSP’s expenses, TSP participants share in the remainder of the costs. The TSP expense ratio represents the amount that participants’ investment returns were reduced by TSP administrative expenses, net of forfeitures.” In effect however, the expense ratio is so low as to be largely insignificant. This link shows what the expenses have been for participants, once the forfeitures have been accounted for, since 1999.

      Again, thanks for stopping by. It is good to hear from someone that is obviously familiar with the program and the benefits.

  4. I work for the Government and I have a TSP account. It is a great way to save! They offer life-cycle funds which automatically move your money as you age to a more secure funding strategy. This is great for the folks like me that don’t know all of the ins and outs of SavvyInvesting!

    • As I have indicated previously, I am definitely a fan of life-cycle (aka age-based) funds. For a lot of people, the automatic re-balancing removes a lot of uncertainty with regards to portfolio management and is a great convenience. Thanks for stopping by, Karen.

  5. Very interesting, and I was not super familiar with this TSP for federal employees. Those expense ratios are ridiculous!

    • Thanks for stopping by, Jake. Yep, they really are some sick rates. There aren’t necessarily a lot of funds to choose from – but they cover all the bases (life-cycle funds, international fund, small cap fund, large cap fund, bond fund, etc.) – and it is a well managed plan with ultra low expenses…which as SavvyInvestors know, is a key to investing success!

      Savvy Readers should take a moment to check out Jake’s site – run with his wife –

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