Number of TSP Millionaires Still Growing

How many millionaires are now in the Thrift Savings Plan? The growing number may be a surprise.

The number of millionaires in the federal employee Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) continues to grow. As of June 28, 2019, the total number of millionaires in this retirement fund has grown to 37,612.

And, for those readers whose immediate reaction is that this number is so high because of highly paid private sector people that have become federal employees have transferred their assets into the TSP, that seems unlikely. The reason this is unlikely is that the average number of years these millionaires have been contributing to their TSP plan is 29.39 years. The data do, however, include rollovers from other qualified plans.

One successful investor comes out on top. This person has amassed a total of $6,893,194 in his or her TSP account.

One successful TSP investor told his story of how a long-term federal employee who had become a GS-11 by the time he achieved the status of being a TSP millionaire.

 …I can attest to the truth of the projections that those charts and graphs – and the TSP calculator – illustrate: that by making regular contributions – and contributing the maximum that you can – an ordinary, run-of-the-mill person can indeed become a millionaire. It is not just smoke-and-mirrors or a mirage and while it doesn’t happen overnight, it can happen over time.

According to data provided by Kim Weaver, Director, Office of External Affairs for the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board (FRTIB), there were 5,506,935 participants in the TSP program. In effect, just under 1% (about .68%) of TSP investors now have more than a million dollars in their accounts.

TSP Millionaires by Year

Here is a chart showing the number of TSP millionaires each year. Keep in mind that the latest figures are as of June 28, 2019 and there will certainly be a change in this figure by December 31, 2019

Year Number of Millionaires
2019 37,612
2018 21,432
2017 23,962
2016 9,599
2015 3,272
2014 4,167
2013 1,695
2012 562
2011 208

The reason behind the growing number of millionaire investors is, of course, growth in the stock market. For the first six months of 2019, the C fund was up 18.5%. That growth includes investors enjoying the best stock market returns in June since 1938. And, since 2010, the returns of the C fund have gone up every year with the exception of 2018 when the C fund was down 4.14%.

A long-term federal employee can become a millionaire by investing in the Thrift Savings Plan. It obviously takes discipline to keep investing despite negative headlines and depressing news. It also means taking some risks and investing in stock funds and not just putting money into the G fund.

Finally, it also requires self-discipline. It is easy to find ways to spend money; it is harder to have the discipline to keep investing and foregoing some of the material pleasures that your colleagues may be enjoying.

We wish all readers success in achieving their financial goals and, possibly, adding their names to the list of TSP millionaires.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47