Ask The Experts: Money Matters

By Mike Miles

TSP deposits

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Q. I noticed that my TSP quarterly statements show the money deposited near the beginning of each month, but isn’t that money from the previous month worked? For instance, for January my TSP deposit posted Jan. 3, but that money was earned from December. Or is it December’s money going toward January’s TSP?

A. The money credited to your TSP account is the money your agency has most recently deducted from your pay and sent to the TSP. It is sent in arrears, not in advance.

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TSP contributions

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Q. I will retire Jan. 2 in CSRS. I believe the paydays on Jan. 2 and Jan. 16 will be part of the 2015 TSP contribution year. Also, I believe that I can contribute up to 100 percent of my basic pay to TSP (which is what I would like to do for these last two pays). Would the 100 percent be whatever is left after all other deductions (taxes, FEHB, etc.) have already been deducted? Essentially, when does the 100 percent get applied?

A. The 100 percent is applied after all required deductions have been subtracted.

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TSP setup

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Q. I was recently hired at the the FDA. I have about $43,000 in student loans with a high interest rate. How much should I set up to be put into my TSP in order to take a loan from myself? Would this be a smart move? I believe that this way I’ll take out a loan from myself at a lower interest rate. Read the rest of this entry »

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IRA rollover

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Q. I am going to retire soon and plan to roll over my voluntary contributions to an existing Roth IRA. Can the voluntary contributions be rolled over to a TSP Roth account instead?

A. No.

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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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Moving money into TSP

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Q. I understand I am allowed to roll or transfer other 401′s or Roth IRA’s into TSP, but can I just invest money saved in traditional savings accounts into my TSP?

A. While you may transfer certain qualified tax-deferred retirement assets into the TSP, Roth IRA and taxable savings are not eligible.

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TSP annuity

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Q. My question has to do with choosing to withdraw my TSP account upon retirement. I understand I can leave my balance with the government and either choose equal payments for my expected lifespan or have the government purchase an annuity on my behalf. What I do not understand is the difference between choosing equal payments for the rest of my life and purchasing an annuity solely for myself? What are the pros and cons for each? I also don’t understand why I am also given a choice to choose a survivor benefit with my wife as the beneficiary should I decide on the annuity available through the government. If I die before my wife, isn’t she entitled to my TSP balance regardless if I choose the equal monthly payout or the annuity? Since she is the beneficiary of my TSP remaining balance, why should I even consider purchasing an annuity with a survivor benefit when this will have the effect of reducing my monthly pay? She will get the remaining TSP balance should I die anyway, won’t she? I also would like to know  if I choose either option for withdrawing my TSP retirement funds, do I retain control of the balance? Can I still move the money around from the C, S, and I funds in order to sustain the longevity of my retirement account? Read the rest of this entry »

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TSP funds

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Q. I started working for the government about 2-1/2 years ago. I am 56 and plan to retire in 10 years. I am contributing 15 percent of my  pay to the TSP G fund. I want to earn more than this fund is paying. What are your recommendations on which fund I should contributing to?

A. If you don’t know what else to do, then about the best thing I can suggest is that you use the L Fund that most closely corresponds to your life expectancy. You won’t know how much spending this will safely support, but at least you’ll know that your account is risk-efficient.

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Investment allocation

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Q. I am 25 and I am almost at the four-year service mark. I have been contributing since I started working for the federal government as a GS-07 at 5 percent. I am a GS-12 and started contributing 15 percent about five months ago (10 percent ROTH). My current allocation is 50 percent in C and 50 percent in S. I am trying to diversify my allocations a little better. Please help me with some feedback as to which other categories I should looking. 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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