Welcome to TSP Strategies

Welcome to TSPstrategies.com! This Web site is dedicated to exploring the benefits of saving and investing in the Thrift Savings Plan.

The companion book, TSP Investing Strategies: Building Wealth While Working for Uncle Sam, lays out a simple set of strategies for long-term, buy-and-hold investors to consider while investing in the TSP. This Web site and accompanying blog will build on those concepts, while focusing on new investing options and developments related to the TSP.

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Apr


16

‘You’ve Got (TSP) Mail’…

Soon TSP administrators will be communicating directly with participants via email, phone, and possibly text messages as well. Administrators recently proposed plans to add participants’ email addresses and phone numbers to their master records system called FRTIB-1.  TSP is now taking comments on this proposal, and assuming there are no negative comments that convince administrators otherwise, the records system will be updated to accept email and phone contact information as of May 15. The announcement also proposes changing the FRTIB-1 … more

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Apr


11

TSP Site Unaffected by ‘Heartbleed’

According to a brief – if not terse – statement on the TSP website, the site itself was unaffected by ‘heartbleed’: TSP Safe from “Heartbleed” Bug — (April 10, 2014) We have reviewed our systems. TSP.gov is not affected by the Heartbleed vulnerability. While tsp.gov is not included, here is a list of major sites that were and were not affected by ‘heartbleed.’

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Mar


26

The TSP Tweaks the L Funds

The L Funds are about to be tweaked. According to an announcement posted on TSP.gov: Updated Lifecycle fund allocations — (March 26, 2014) As a result of changes in long-term capital market assumptions and a review of the Lifecycle fund asset allocations, the TSP has revised the target asset allocations of the Lifecycle funds. The announcement then directs users to the L Fund page to see the “current asset allocations” for each of the funds. When I checked the fund … more

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Mar


03

TSP Diversification the Warren Buffett Way, and Alternatives

Warren Buffett, of course, is known for his investments in and purchases of individual companies.  His Berkshire Hathaway holding company owns over 80 businesses outright and has substantial investments in the stocks of over 100 others.  As the company’s largest shareholder, he is also ranked fourth on Forbes’ list of billionaires.  He didn’t build his wealth by investing in index funds, but amazingly enough, he suggests that you and I should consider doing so. His Berkshire Hathaway annual letter to … more

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Feb


24

TSP Disallows Links to Website?

I came across a curious policy on TSP.gov, one that I had not seen on an openly available, U.S. government website before. It reads in part: Unless you are a .mil or .gov site, you must have a written agreement in effect with the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board (FRTIB) in order to link to the TSP website from another website…Once a written agreement is in effect, hypertext links to the TSP website are permitted only if: – The link … more

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Feb


11

‘Accrue’ Can Be A Funny Word…

We reached the debt ceiling again last Friday, February 7. Treasury had notified Congress two weeks earlier that it “would be forced to use extraordinary measures to continue to finance the government on a temporary basis.”   One of these measures is to suspend interest payments to the TSP’s G Fund. Treasury did this as of February 10, according to the Treasury Secretary’s letter to Congress and to a TSP announcement posted today*: “G Fund & the debt limit — (February … more

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Feb


06

Double-Digit Budget Increases and the Future of the TSP

Every government program should be reviewed and evaluated from time to time to revalidate a central question: does the government need to be providing this particular service in this particular manner?  Just because the government can provide a specific service, is it best placed to do so? Now might be an opportune time to examine whether the government should be managing the TSP, as running the TSP is getting more expensive each year – and with recent unforeseeable demographic changes … more

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Jan


30

MyRA, Roths and the TSP

The president today signed a Presidential Memorandum directing the Secretary of the Treasury to develop “a new retirement savings security that can be made available through employers to their employees” and that offers “a low minimum opening amount…while earning interest at a rate based on yields on outstanding Treasury securities.” While not stated explicitly in the memorandum, the new “savings security” will have the same return as and function similarly to the G Fund.  The program has been termed “myRA,” … more

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Jan


29

Will BlackRock Continue to Manage the S Fund?

TSP administrators floated a request for proposals to manage the Small Cap Stock Index Investment Fund — the S Fund — earlier this month. This is the third major RFP to manage individual TSP funds in the past 18 months. BlackRock was re-awarded the contract to run the I Fund early last fall, three months after the RFP was first released in June last year.  The contract award was made in half the time originally anticipated, with the final award expected … more

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Jan


27

The TSP’s ‘No-Name Nor’easter’…

One of the primary competitive advantages of the Thrift Savings Plan is the rock-bottom costs (expense ratios) we pay to keep our money invested in the stock and bond market funds. At around .02% of each fund, this amounts to about $2 in fees for every $10,000 invested in the TSP funds.  The average expense ratio of all other mutual funds was just over .9% in 2012, according to Morningstar.  This would cost the investor $90 for every $10,000 he … more

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Dec


17

Kicking the Can Down the Road, or Kicking the Kid Stuck With the Can Walking Down the Road?

All the discussion about the recent budget compromise has focused on the cuts to Cost of Living Adjustments (COLAs) mandated for recent military retirees going forward.  Under the budget compromise, military retirees under the age of 62 will face a COLA equal to the Consumer Price Index minus one percent. But what of the new govies who, hired in 2014 and thereafter, will have to contribute still more of their pay to retirement contributions?   As expected, in the name … more

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Nov


06

Required Employee Pension Contributions Will Probably Rise Soon

In an under-noticed article inside the Wall Street Journal today – titled “Parties Hunt for Revenue Streams” – was this revelation: “Now, budget negotiators in both parties are again looking to premiums, user fees and other nontax revenue as they try to soften the effect of a new round of automatic federal spending cuts set to kick in at the start of the year.  Possibilities include…raising how much federal employees must contribute to their pension programs, among many others…” And … more

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Nov


04

Michael Kors Leaves Project Runway To Join…the TSP?

You might know of Michael Kors from one of a couple sources. You’re into high fashion, in which case you’ll know all about the designer and his fashion lines through the years. You have watched “Project Runway” up to last season, in which case you know his caustic humor.  (He departed the reality fashion design show late last year to concentrate on running his fast-expanding business.) You shop on Apple.com, in which case you’ve seen lots of Michael Kors-designed high-end … more

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Oct


30

Apps? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Apps!

TSP administrators announced last week that they have deployed a new version of tsp.gov that allows users to log on to their accounts using a browser on their smart phone. Instead of developing and deploying a specific app for the iOS and Android (KitKat et al) operating systems – not to mention Microsoft Mobile and Blackberry OS – users can access the TSP site using their mobile browser to get a version of the site that is optimized for the … more

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Sep


30

Blackrock Selected as I Fund Manager

Blackrock will continue to manage the I Fund, the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board announced on September 16th. I suppose the only surprise is that the announcement came so soon.  As noted in early August, TSP administrators expected to make a decision by the end of the year.  This must mean there were very few – if any – fund management companies that submitted a proposal to manage the I Fund besides Blackrock.

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