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Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)


The Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) is a retirement savings and investment plan for United States federal employees and members of the military. It operates similarly to a 401(k) plan used by private sector employees, making it a defined-contribution plan. The TSP offers federal employees tax-deferred retirement savings and investment opportunities, as well as a variety of benefits.


The phonetics of the keyword “Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)” are:Thrift – /θrɪft/Savings – /ˈseɪ.vɪŋz/Plan – /plæn/TSP – /ˌtiːˈɛsˈpiː/

Key Takeaways

Thrift Savings Plan (TSP): Key Points

  1. Retirement Savings Plan: TSP is a retirement savings plan for federal employees and members of the uniformed services. It works similarly to a 401(k) plan provided by many private sector employers, allowing participants to save a portion of their income for retirement on a tax-deferred basis.

  2. Fund Options: The Thrift Savings Plan offers a variety of investment options, including government securities, fixed income index, common stock index, small capitalization stock index, and international stock index funds. Employees can decide how to allocate their contributions among these options according to their financial goals and risk tolerance.

  3. Employer Contribution: Many federal employees and uniformed service members are eligible for match contributions from the government. This is a significant benefit of the program as it helps boost retirement savings. The specific matching contribution varies depending on the details of the participant’s benefits package.


The Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) is a highly important tool in managing long-term savings and retirement planning, particularly for US federal employees and members of the uniformed services. Similar to a 401(k) plan offered in the private sector, the TSP provides multiple options for regular contributions from the employee’s salary as well as provisions for employer-matching and diverse investment choices. The tax-deferred growth of invested money and the opportunity to choose amongst a variety of funds based on risk tolerance and time to retirement, make it a flexible and powerful way to save and prepare for retirement. Being a low-cost plan, it further optimizes the saving potential of employees while also providing a source of income security in their post-employment period. Its significance is therefore centred on fostering financial independence and stability for employees after retirement.


The Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) is a type of retirement savings and investment plan extensively utilized by federal employees and members of the uniformed services, including the Ready Reserve. Its purpose is to aid these workers in securing their financial future by offering them a way to save and effectively grow their savings for retirement. The TSP appeals to these federal workers because it is a defined-contribution plan offering the same kind of savings and tax benefits that many private corporations render their employees under 401(k) plans.The TSP is used to help employees contribute a portion of their income towards their retirement savings, with the potential advantage of receiving matching contributions from their employer, up to a certain limit. This means that for every dollar the employee contributes (up to a specified limit), the employer also contributes a matching amount, essentially providing “free money” for that employee’s retirement savings. Also, participants can choose to make tax-exempt contributions, and the funds grow on a tax-deferred basis. Hence, the TSP serves as a critical financial tool for federal employees, ensuring they are adequately financially covered in their post-service life.


1. Military Personnel Retirement Plan: In the United States, the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) is heavily used by military personnel as their primary retirement savings account. Military members are automatically enrolled in the TSP, with a certain percentage of their paycheck being deposited into the account each month. The Department of Defense also matches these contributions up to a certain amount to encourage savings for retirement.2. Federal Employees Retirement System: Similar to military personnel, the Thrift Savings Plan is an important and integral part of a federal civilian employee’s retirement plan. Certain deductions are made from an employee’s salary and put into a TSP, which is then matched by the federal government.3. Post Office Employees: The United States Postal Service (USPS) also offers the TSP as a retirement savings plan for its employees. Just like with other federal employees, a portion of a USPS employee’s salary is deducted each pay period and placed into the TSP. The USPS may also make matching contributions, up to a set limit, in order to encourage long-term savings for retirement.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is a Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)?

A Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) is a retirement savings and investment plan for federal employees and members of the uniformed services. It’s a defined contribution plan designed to offer the same types of savings and tax benefits that many private corporations provide their employees under 401(k) plans.

Who is eligible for a TSP?

All federal employees, including military personnel and members of the uniformed services, are eligible for a TSP.

How does a TSP work?

A TSP allows employees to save a part of their income for retirement. This money is set aside on a pre-tax basis, meaning you don’t pay taxes on these funds until they are withdrawn. The TSP offers five different individual fund options as well as life-cycle funds.

Can I withdraw money from my TSP before retirement?

Yes, but you may face penalties for early withdrawal if you are below the age of 59.5. There are certain situations called hardship withdrawals that allow withdrawals without penalties.

What investment options are available with a TSP?

The TSP offers five core funds, including government securities, fixed income, common stock, small-cap stock and international stock. In addition to these, it offers Lifecycle Funds (L Funds) which are diversified mix of the five core funds and adjusts according to your retirement timeline.

What happens to my TSP after I retire or leave federal service?

Upon retiring or leaving federal service, you can choose to withdraw your TSP account as a lump sum or choose an annuity. You can also leave the money in your account, allowing it to continue to accrue earnings.

Are TSP contributions matched by the federal government?

Yes, if you are a Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) participant. Your agency matches your contributions up to 5% of your pay.

How can I manage my TSP account?

You can manage your TSP account, including making contribution allocations and inter-fund transfers, through the TSP website or by calling the ThriftLine.

Is a TSP the same as a 401(k)?

While TSPs and 401(k)s serve a similar purpose in allowing employees to set aside pre-tax income for retirement, they are offered to different groups of people. 401(k)s are offered by private employers, while TSPs are specific to federal employees and members of the uniformed services.

: Can I roll over my TSP to a 401(k) or an IRA?

: Yes, once you leave federal service, you have the option to roll over your TSP into a 401(k) or an Individual Retirement Account (IRA).

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