Ask The Experts: Money Matters

By Mike Miles

TSP risk

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Q. I am 25 and just started my TSP and want to invest in a very risky fund. What would be best for risky? Or should I take a different approach or is risky fine for someone my age? I am a risk-taker in life. Read the rest of this entry »

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TSP contribution

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Q. Since catch-up contributions must be renewed each year, is it possible to make non-payroll cash contributions? Or are all non-IRA rollovers required to be payroll contributions?

A. You may not make direct contributions to your TSP account. The only way in is through payroll deferral or transfer from an eligible retirement account.

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USERRA and new job

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Q. I have a USERRA question. I have been an IRS employee on LWOP for two years to perform military service. During this two years I contributed 5 percent of my would-be IRS salary to TSP. I was offered and accepted a civilian position with the Navy. Can you please advise me if I am entitled to agency matching contributions on my TSP contributions when I start my new Navy job without ever returning to IRS? I understand the IRS and Navy may be considered separate employers; my hope rests on a return to federal service, regardless of the agency, counting as returning to my original employer so I can collect the matching contributions. Read the rest of this entry »

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TSP deposits for 2015

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Q. My wife works for the federal government and in the next two years will retire at 60 with 27 years of service. We have been trying to max out her TSP and catch up contributions. We have made deposits per your advice of $673 and $211 for regular contribution and catch-up. However, as I look at the calendar for 2015, it appears that there will be 27 deposits due to the way the holidays fall at the beginning and end of the year. Should contributions be adjusted based on 27 deposits vs. 26 to ensure limits are not exceeded, or am I missing something?

A. The deposits should be adjusted for the actual number of pay periods during the year.

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TSP contributions

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Q. I’m 23 and recently began my FERS career with the government this past May. I contribute 5 percent of my income and plan on increasing the amount by 1 percent every year and 2 percent every GS level increase. What would be the best spread across the five basic funds for someone willing to work 40+ years in government service with a moderate amount of risk? Additionally, is there a limit where increasing the percentage beyond a certain point (besides the $52,000 yearly max) begins to yield diminishing returns when compared to other investment methods? Finally are there any other avenues of investment you recommend I pursue? Read the rest of this entry »

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Maximum contribution

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Q. I am in the National Guard and I am a civil service employee. Is the annual maximum contribution for the TSP the combination of the two, or is it for each individual account? Can I contribute in 2014 $17,500 to my Guard TSP, then $17,500 to my civilian TSP account as well?

A. Unless there is a special exception for Guard pay, the limit is combined.

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TSP loan repayment

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Q. From what I understand, I must repay a TSP loan within 90 days of the date my agency notifies TSP of my separation from service, otherwise my loan is taxable. When does the agency notify TSP of my separation, upon retirement?

A. You’ll have to ask your agency’s benefits officer.

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L Fund selection

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Q. I am 55 years old planning to retire under CSRS in the next year. I currently have approximately $200,000 in TSP using my own distribution choices rather than an L Fund. Although my distribution selection falls between the L 2020 and L 2040 Funds, I am considering movement to an L Fund once I retire. If I understand the TSP descriptions correctly, they suggest I use the L Fund closest to my retirement year (L 2020), but my thought is that I can afford to be a little more aggressive considering I will be receiving a decent pension ($70,000). I believe I read in one of your answers that choosing an L Fund closest to my life expectancy is worth considering, but I can’t find it and would hate to make any decision without a complete understanding of what is best for me. Which L Fund, if any, would you recommend someone in my situation should select?  Read the rest of this entry »

Moving TSP funds

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Q. I plan to retire under FERS in December 2020 at age 66. All my investment is in the G Fund, $350,000, as are my allocations at 100 percent. I was advised to move 60 percent to the C fund and 40 percent to the F fund ASAP with the same allocations. I consider this a risky and aggressive move considering my situation, the economy, and that the S&P is overdue for at least a 20 percent correction by the end of this year. What do the experts advise. Read the rest of this entry »

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Roll IRA to TSP?

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Q. I am a 55-year-old Postal employee planning to retire sometime in the next year under CSRS. Many years ago, I purchased a $2,000 Vanguard IRA that has grown to more than $40,000. I also have a separate similarly valued Roth IRA. I know that I can begin penalty-free withdrawals from TSP after separation, but can I roll my Vanguard IRA into TSP?  I also know that I cannot roll my Roth into TSP. My desire is to have the money accessible before 59-1/2 and to avoid having three pots to withdraw MRDs when I’m 70-1/2. Any suggestions?

A. You may transfer the IRA money into the TSP any time, as long as it contains no after-tax contributions.

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