Small savings key for TSP retirement goals

Monday - 6/27/2011, 6:26pm EDT

Tom Trabucco, director of external affairs, Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board

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By Jory Heckman
Federal News Radio

Making small sacrifices on daily purchases can easily translate into big retirement savings through the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP).

A new online chart from the TSP shows just how much critical small investments can help establish a large retirement nest egg.

"[The] climbing chart shows that over time, when compound earnings really dig in, when earnings start to get to be large, you start to earn a lot on your earnings," said Tom Trabucco, director of external affairs at the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board.

He said the catalyst for big savings is compound interest.

"If you just changed your behavior a little bit and reallocated resources from where you're spending them now toward your retirement, it could pay off big over time," said Trabucco.

Instead of buying a $2 lottery ticket every day, for example, federal employees could put the money towards retirement and add $730 to their accounts annually. Better yet, 10 years of savings yield $9,994 for retirement, $28,178 over 20 years, and $61,261 in 30 years.

Trabucco said the gains made towards retirement far outstrip any gambling odds. "This is far more certain than a lottery ticket, that's for sure," he said.

Putting $7 a day into the TSP, the estimated cost of a take-out lunch, becomes $34,980 in 10 years, $98,622 in 20 years and $214,413 in 30 years.

The chart factors in a six percent annual rate of return, compounded monthly - about what the G Fund brings in on a yearly basis.

TSP developed the chart as a walk-through guide for government employees to realize how easy it is to save for retirement.

"The rule is really 'keep it simple,'" said Trabucco. "We bring in every year 100,000 new participants who are new to this, and so we're constantly introducing people to these concepts. We want to keep it simple to draw them in."

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Jory Heckman is an intern with Federal News Radio.

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