Thanks to a record bull market and a steady, long-haul investing strategy the number of rank-and-file career federal and postal workers with million-dollar Thrift Savings Plan accounts hit 34,128 in September. That is up from 3,272 in January 2016.
And one of them is the $6 million dollar man, or woman.
The number of feds who have account balances ranging from $750,000 to $999,000 jumped from 18,846 in 2016 to 64,138 this year. In 2016, the largest TSP account balance was $4,654,000.
Currently, the largest balance is $6,680,310. Although most of the TSPs now are regular long-time career civil servants that wasn’t always the case.
In the early days of the TSP there were only a handful of millionaires. The first TSP millionaires were politicians, political appointees or prosperous lawyers who were named federal judges. Many of them brought their outside retirement accounts into government and put them in the TSP. They liked the optional federal retirement plan because of its low-administrative fees and oversight from half a dozen federal agencies.
Workers under the Federal Employees Retirement System are eligible for a 5 percent match from their agency to their accounts. Slightly more than 160,000 TSP participants have account balances ranging from $500,000 to $749,000. A total of 467,883 participants have balances ranging from $250,000 to $499,000.
Just over 1.4 million people have account balances ranging from $50,0000 to $249,000 and 2.8 million people have balances below $50,000. People with the largest account balances have, in most cases, been investing from day one. Of those with the top balances the average amount of time investing in the TSP program is 27 to 28.7 years.
Most of the big balances are held by people who invested enough to get the government match, those who invested heavily in the stock-indexed C and S funds and who continued to invest during the Great Recession and its recovery when stock funds were available at bargain prices. For a look at the TSP makeup check this chart:
TSP Millionaires (FERS, Civil Service Retirement System, Uniformed Services)