Front-Loading Your TSP

By on January 4, 2016 in Retirement with 22 Comments

Image of a hand putting coin into a piggy bank with word 'retirement' on chalkboard in background

Retiring during 2016? You may want to consider “front-loading” your TSP.

In 2016 you can contribute $18,000 to the TSP, plus another $6,000 if you are 50 or over. When you work an entire year, it is likely that you will spread your TSP contributions out over the entire year. This is especially important if you are a FERS employee, as it ensures you receive the full government matching contributions.

If you are retiring in the middle of the year, you can accelerate your TSP contributions so that you hit the maximum by the date that you leave. Let’s say you are planning on retiring at the end of June in 2016, and let’s assume that you will leave at the end of the 13th pay period of the year. If you contributed $1,385 per pay period, you would reach the full $18,000 at the end of the 13th pay period. For the “catch-up” contributions of $6,000 per year, you would contribute $462 per pay period to max out at the end of the 13th pay period.

This adds up to a total of $1,847 per pay period, an amount that is out of the reach of many federal employees nearing retirement. Nonetheless, you could accelerate your payments (say, by increasing your contributions from 10% to 15% of salary) and end up with a larger amount in your TSP when you leave.

John Grobe’s latest book, The Answer Book on Your Federal Employee Benefits, has just been released by LRP Publications. The book is written in an easy to understand question and answer format and covers all areas of federal benefits from the perspective of an employee at various stages of their career. Order your copy at

© 2016 John Grobe. All rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced without express written consent from John Grobe.


About the Author

John Grobe is President of Federal Career Experts, a consulting firm that specializes in federal retirement and career transition issues. He is also affiliated with TSP Safety Net. John retired from federal service after 25 years of progressively more responsible human resources positions. He is the author of Understanding the Federal Retirement Systems and Career Transition: A Guide for Federal Employees, both published by the Federal Management Institute. Federal Career Experts provides pre-retirement seminars for a wide variety of federal agencies.