So who’s the fattest cat in the federal Thrift Savings Plan? Does the fed with the $4.6 million account sit in the next cubicle? Or is he/she maybe a member of your car pool? Short answer: Probably not. Almost certainly not. But he/she is out there. Along with a growing number of TSP millionaires.
As of last January the TSP, Uncle Sam’s in-house 401k plan, had 3,272 people with accounts of $1 million or more. ONE MILLION DOLLARS!!!!
Some members of the Million Dollar Club came into government with lots of money. They are often political appointees or very successful lawyers appointed as federal judges. They transferred savings from company or corporate 401k funds into the TSP, often because they appreciated its lowest-in-the-business administrative fees. These are people who know how to make, and keep, money. But a substantial number of the millionaires did it the old-fashioned way. They invested in stock index funds, smiling when the market was up but continuing to buy stocks when the markets were down, and shares were on sale. Investing regularly, without getting emotional, and the value of compounding made them millionaires. The typical TSP millionaire has been investing for just over 28 years.
The 5 percent matching contributions that FERS employees can get from the government helped boost their TSP balances dramatically. Like so:
There are 18,846 TSP participants who have account balances of between $750,000 and $999,000 as of Jan. 2016. On average they’ve been investing for 28 years, like the millionaires they aspire to be.
More than 90,000 feds (92,092 to be precise) have account balances of between half a million and $749,000. Average time in the TSP: 27 years.
The number of participants with account balances from $250,000 to $499,000 is an impressive 371,209 individuals who’ve been in the federal 401k plan an average of 24 years.
Another 1.4 million people have accounts ranging from $50,001 to $249,000, with an average time of 19 years in the plan.
As impressive as the millionaires club is, the overall smarts of TSP investors is equally impressive. As of last count there were 2,810,398 participants who have accounts worth up to $50,000. On average they’ve been participating for 9 years.