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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Category: Thrift Savings Plan Updates

Feb


09

TSP Could Become a Lot More Popular in Coming Years

With close to 5 million participants, the Thrift Savings Plan is already pretty popular.  It could get a whole lot more popular if recent recommendations on military compensation are implemented. As expected, the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission recommended adding government TSP matches for active and reserve service members, to compensate for a reduced retirement annuity. With an authorized US military strength in 2015 of just over 1.3 million personnel in the four services, that could substantially increase the … more

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Jan


25

Will Coming Big Changes in Military Compensation Include a TSP Match?

The Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission is set to release its recommendations within the next week.  It will be interesting to see whether the Thrift Savings Plan will play an enhanced role in a modernized military retirement reform package. The commission has been studying compensation for over a year now, and their report is due by Feb 1. The outgoing defense secretary has been making the rounds the last few weeks, letting folks know that the commission’s report is … more

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Jan


21

Final Decision on ‘Mutual Fund Window’ Expected in 2015

Interested in investing in other funds besides those offered in the TSP?  For example, in “socially responsible” funds, real estate funds, precious metals, or emerging markets? The TSP Enhancement Act of 2009 granted the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board the authority to establish a “Mutual Fund Window” through which TSP investors could invest in a wider universe of funds, and more than five years later, the board provided their “conceptual support” to the creation of a MFW late last year. … more

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Sep


04

BlackRock’s Three-peat*

It’s official: BlackRock won the contract to continue managing the S Fund. According to the FRTIB’s recent press statement: The Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board (FRTIB) announced today that it has selected Blackrock Institutional Trust Company, N.A. as the investment manager for its Small Cap Stock Index Investment Fund (S Fund). The S Fund invests in a stock index fund that tracks the Dow Jones U.S. Completion Total Stock Market Index. The earnings consist of dividend income and gains or … more

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Aug


20

Goraikō

“Goraikō” means dawn in Japanese – not just any dawn, but the unique and all-encompassing kind that you experience from Mt. Fuji, for example. I titled my just-published book Goraikō: Japan’s National Security in an Era of Asymmetric Threats, after that unique dawn because the Japanese experience over the past twenty-five years has been gradual yet, ultimately, dramatic. Missile threats. Terrorist attacks using biological and chemical weapons. Mass hostage-takings. Foreign special operations infiltrations into territorial waters. State-sponsored kidnappings of Japanese … more

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Jul


15

Say-on-Pay and the TSP

What do you get paid?  Are you paid fairly for the work you do?  How much do you think you should get paid? How about the leadership in your agency or command?  Are they paid fairly? I’ve heard the debate many times over the years.  We don’t get paid enough.  We’re over-paid.  We could make more in the private sector.  We already do.   Etc. etc. Now, what does the leadership of the TSP deserve to be paid, managing as they … more

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Jun


30

Owe Taxes? You Might Soon Pay Out of Your TSP Account

TSP administrators two years ago established a process to deduct funds from TSP accounts of participants who were declared by a court to be late in paying child support. Now administrators are proposing to do the same for TSP participants who owe back taxes. According to statistics in mid-2013, 3.3% of federal employees owed back taxes for a total of $3.3 billion. While that’s an eye-popping number, the IRS noted that this is less than half the general population, with … more

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Jun


22

New Asset Classes Being Explored

I’ve been prepping a book for publication these past two months – it should be out by the end of July – so I haven’t been paying attention to developments related to the TSP recently. A few things caught my eye as I was reviewing background events of the past few months, however. In a very interesting development, the FRTIB earlier this year reviewed an analysis of hypothetical returns on the L Funds that included different types of asset classes. … more

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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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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


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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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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