Your NestEgg: Decoding the TSP

If you work for Uncle Sam chances are you know somebody, in fact lots of people, who are investing in the best 401k plan in America. So who is the lucky person?...

Vanguard’s John Bogle, the father of index funds, says your Thrift Savings Plan—Uncle Sam’s in-house 401k plan—is the best. Period. Long-time financial guru Jane Bryant Quinn agrees the TSP is as good as it gets.

Allan Roth says he’s looking for a way to get into the federal TSP while keeping his day job as a financial planner and columnist for CBS MoneyWatch.

Various financial magazines and experts have described the TSP as the best in the business because of its low administrative costs, its investment options and the very, very generous 5 percent government match available to most TSP investors.

But many TSP investors say it could be better and they could make more money (or lose it) if Uncle Sam would permit them to walk on the wild side.

Some would like the option to trade daily.

Others think the TSP should offer high risk/high reward options. Like a gold or precious metal fund. Or a REIT (real estate investment trust) fund. Or a fund. Or a socially conscious fund, or a fund that invests in minority-owned companies.

And what about the option to put the cash value of unused annual leave into the TSP when you retire? What about a Roth option within the TSP?

Today at 10 a.m., Tom Trabucco, director of external affairs for the Federal Retirement Thrifit Investment Board will be our guest (yours and mine) on our Your Turn radio show. It is live starting at 10 a.m., EST on your computer at You can click the red ” Listen Now” bar to the right of this column. If you are away from your computer and in the the DC area you can also get it on 1500 AM.

Got questions or comments about the TSP? This is your chance for a one-on-way with an expert. You can call in during the show at 202.465.3080 or, if you prefer, email your questions to me at:

Like all of our Your Turn shows this one will be archived on our home page. So you can listen again, or at home. Or pass it on to a friend. But today is your chance to put your question or comment to a TSP expert.

Are You 70 Or Older?

If you are 70 or older and still working check out this Q & A:

Dot in Maryland writes: ” I am a gov’t worker – over 70 – still working – went to check my TSP and it was $3,000 less then last week – yes – called TSP and they said someone made an error – was refunding money to folks almost 70 and to those over 70 – even if they were still working. They said that when we receive our checks to return them and they would be added back into our accounts – – they even provided a return address. I deposit by percentage – I don’t see much about it – Oh yes, I asked if I would get the interest due me and they said yes – will be interesting to watch!!!”

We put her question to the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board which said: “Dot from Maryland is correct. Due to a processing error late last week, approximately 9,700 of our 4.4 million participants were erroneously issued notices and payments regarding minimum distributions for participants over age 70 ½. We have identified those affected and are currently contacting them to correct their accounts. Participants will be advised how to return their checks and accounts will be made whole. ”

To reach me:

Nearly Useless Factoid

368 years ago today, the first divorce was granted in the New World. In order for the Puritan Church to grant Ann Clarke a divorce from her “absent and adulterous husband” Denis Clarke, he had to certify that he had left her and their two children, taken up with another woman and had two children with her, and that he refused to return to his wife.


Update: TSP check mistake due to processing error
Participants who accidentally received their Thrift Savings Plan payments last week — some as much as $10,000 — can return the voided TSP check or write a check for the same amount.

Questions for the new Congress
Will the Congress cut federal benefits? Will there be a hiring freeze or furloughs? Check out the full list of questions for the 112th Congress on issues that affect federal employees and contractors.

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