One of the Coast Guard's mandatory financial readiness trainings concentrates on helping members better understand retirement and what it means to be vested in the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP).
If you have completed two years of service, under the Blended Retirement System (BRS), you are now automatically ”vested” in the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP). The TSP is a retirement savings plan available to members of the uniformed services and federal employees. Similar to a civilian retirement vehicle like a 401(k), the TSP offers the opportunity for Coast Guard members to save and invest for retirement in a tax-advantaged account while having the military “match” up to a certain percentage of members’ contributions.
Vesting in TSP means that you have met the service requirement that entitles you to keep automatic and matching contributions should you separate or retire from the Coast Guard.
Here are two different scenarios when vesting begins based on when you joined the military:
- If you were serving as of Dec. 31, 2017, and opted into the BRS, then you became eligible for an automatic contribution of 1% and matching contributions up to 4% of basic pay in your TSP. You are already vested in Coast Guard matching contributions but are required to complete two years of service to vest in the automatic 1% contributions.
- If you joined the Coast Guard on or after Jan. 1, 2018, then you are automatically enrolled in BRS. You will begin receiving an automatic 1% government contribution 60 days after entering service and will be eligible for matching contributions up to 4% of basic pay after completing two years of service. You will be vested after serving two years in both the 1% automatic and the Coast Guard matching contributions.
Allocating 5% of your basic pay to your TSP is a good guideline to follow as you begin saving. By contributing 5%, you take full advantage of Coast Guard matching contributions to boost your retirement savings to 10% of your basic pay. You can visit Direct Access to start, stop, or change the contribution amounts to your TSP.
“It is important for members to begin to shift their current perspective into wealth building approaches,” said Carletha Windom, Base Cleveland’s Personal Financial Manager (PFM).
Some of the practical steps you can take to help invest in your retirement are:
- Identify how much money you may need in retirement and a good rule of thumb is 80% of pre-retirement income per year for 30 years.
- Identify small steps to achieve long-term goals by investing money monthly.
- Take advantage of free money by maximize government-matching contributions by investing at least 5% of base pay to your TSP.
- Login to your TSP account to review investments options and make changes to your investment options given your risk tolerance (comfort level of losing and gaining money) and time horizon for investing (if you have a long time for the money to grow)
- Attend workshops on investing with the TSP online or offered by your local Health, Safety and Work-Life Regional Practice PFM or CFS.
To learn about annual contribution limits to your TSP, investment choices, and to manage your current and future investments, click here. Additionally, please visit the Coast Guard “Vesting in TSP” resource page here to learn more about Vesting, Basic Investing, Military Retirement and the Thrift Savings Plan. Also, remember to complete this mandatory training at the Coast Guard’s eLearning website.
- Introduction of Financial Touchpoint Curriculum : Introduction of Financial Touchpoint Curriculum ALCOAST 104/22:
- Nearest Personal Financial Manager (PFM) located at each Health, Safety, and Work-Life Regional Practice (HSWL-RP)
- Unit Command Financial Specialist (CFS)
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