The federal government has provided you an excellent accumulation vehicle in the Thrift Savings Program. Most federal employees participate in this program and are counting on these funds to assist them in retirement. Although the TSP is a great accumulation vehicle, there are a lot of things you need to know to maximize those funds in retirement and in most cases it involves placing those funds with a private company instead of leaving the funds with the government.
A couple of things to consider when looking at your TSP funds:
- If you annuitize with the government and want your payments to continue for life- you can never change the amount you are receiving. This is a big factor that is not the case in most private companies.
- Your TSP annuity if you elect it with the government will be paid through Metropolitan Life (a private company).
- In a lot of cases, federal employees are paying 30% and higher taxes on their TSP funds and can cause shortfalls in retirement. There are other ways available to you that minimize the taxes and allow you to use more of your money in retirement.
- If you are contributing more than the 5% the government matches, it is normally a good practice to look for other investment vehicles that you can access tax-free and consider moving some of those contributions over 5% into those tax-free areas.
Your TSP is probably one of your biggest pieces of your retirement picture. The safest thing for you to do is use the expertise of people who know your options and can explain to you in detail how each of those options work. With the right information, you can make the right decisions.