Three Ways to Add $100,000 to Your TSP Retirement Account

By Beth Perry, Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board

Similar to private sector 401(k) plans, the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) is a defined-contribution plan that provides uniformed services members and federal employees the opportunity to save for additional retirement security. To sign up for the TSP or increase your contributions, log into myPay and follow the instructions at the end of this post.

Saving for retirement sounds daunting, but here’s some inspiration: Thousands of uniformed services members younger than 35 have $100,000 or more in their TSP accounts. Here’s how you could join them.   

1. Dial down your cell phone. When you consider data and texting, most plans cost more than $75 per month. Saving that amount could grow into more than $106,000* after 35 years. You probably can’t give up your cell phone completely, but simply scaling back your usage can make a difference. For example, consider making free Internet calls to reach family overseas. And if you are deployed to an area without cell service for an extended period, you may be able to suspend or cancel your contract. Check with your service provider to learn more.

2. Cut back your cable. The cost of cable has increased dramatically in the past 10 years, and rates are projected to continue rising. If you’re willing to part with your 200 channels, saving that extra $80 a month can mean almost $114,000* in 35 years. Many providers also offer basic plans at a big discount—some are as low as $25 per month. Plus, the libraries on post often have extensive DVD collections you can check out at no cost.

3. Think small. Even minor changes can add up over time. For example, saving the daily cost of a $1 mobile app could mean $30,000.* Investing the $1.50 you’d spend on a soda from the base vending machine each day could grow to $45,000.* And that fancy coffee? Saving the $3.50 you’d spend on a daily cup could brew into $105,000.* The important part is to start early and be consistent.

Found a way to save extra money? You can sign up for the TSP or increase your contributions by logging into myPay. In the “Traditional TSP and Roth TSP” section, choose how much of your pay you’d like to save (7%, for example). Then click “Save” at the bottom of the screen. You can also update your TSP mailing address in myPay.

Make sure to come back next week when we’ll talk about our Roth option.

* All figures assume consistent saving and an investment return of 6% per year compounded monthly. Unless otherwise noted, examples are based on a 30-year time period.

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