Return to Menu Page TSP Features for Civilians
Projecting  Your Account Balance


Can you show me an example of how a TSP account can grow?


Does it make a difference when I start contributing?


How can I estimate my future TSP account balance?




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Can you show me an example of how a TSP account can grow?  Return to Top of this Page

The size of your account balance depends on how much you (and your agency, if you are a FERS employee) contribute to your account and how your account grows as a result of earnings on your investments.  To get an idea of what your TSP account could be in the future, look at the following projections.

Assume that you are a FERS employee eligible for agency contributions, that you are earning $28,000 each year, and that you receive no future salary increases.  You choose to save 5 percent of basic pay each pay period, so you receive total agency contributions of 5 percent.  The growth projections below are for three assumed annual rates of return on your investments — 4 percent, 7 percent, and 10 percent.

Projected Account Balance of a FERS Employee
Who Contributes 5% of $28,000 Annual Basic Pay

Account Balance at Assumed Annual
Rates of Return (Compounded Monthly)

Balance After

4%     7%     10%  
5 Years $15,400  $16,800  $18,200
10 Years  34,440   40,320    47,880
15 Years  57,400   74,200    96,880
20 Years  85,680 121,800   177,520
25 Years 120,120 189,280   310,240
30 Years 162,120 285,040   528,640
35 Years 213,360 420,840    887,880
40 Years 276,080 613,480 1,478,960

You should be aware that future inflation may erode the purchasing power of your projected account balance, and taxes must be paid when you receive the money.  However, higher rates of inflation are often accompanied by higher pay increases and higher rates of investment return.  The growth projections in these discussions do not represent predictions or estimates of inflation or TSP investment results.  See "Your Investment Options" for a discussion of TSP investment options and their advantages, risks, and historical results.  

Does it make a difference when I start contributing? Return to Top of this Page

Yes.  It is important to invest in your TSP account early in your career for two reasons.  First, if you are a FERS employee, you don't want to miss out on the agency matching contributions that are a significant part of your retirement benefit.  Second, the longer contributions stay in your account, the more you stand to gain.  Your money makes money in the form of earnings, and those earnings in turn make money, and so on.  This is what is known as the "miracle of compounding."  As money grows in your account over time, the proportion resulting from earnings will become larger than the proportion resulting from contributions.

In the example below, earnings are about 30 percent of a FERS employee's account after 10 years (assuming a salary of $28,000, employee contributions of 5 percent of basic pay, agency contributions of 5 percent, and a 7 percent rate of return).  However, after 40 years, earnings account for about 80 percent of this employee's TSP account.

Graph: Portion of TSP Account Attributable to Earnings

How can I estimate my future TSP account balance? Return to Top of this Page

The amount of your future TSP account balance depends on how much is in your account now and how much you contribute from this point on.  You can estimate your future account balance using the interactive calculator on this Web site.  Click on the button below:

Projecting Account Balance


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