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What percentage of your monthly pay do you need to contribute to your military Thrift Savings Plan with Blended Retirement System (BRS) to max out in December 2023?
Here are the 2023 military TSP BRS matching contribution maximizing charts, based on the 2023 military pay raise and TSP contribution limit moving up to $22,500.
In order to maximize your 5% military TSP match, you must contribute at least 5% a month to the TSP and NOT max it out too early before December of the year. The easiest way to do this is to spread your contributions evenly over the 12 months of the year.
The military TSP matching through the Blended Retirement System (BRS) is an excellent way for military servicemembers to build their retirement savings.
The BRS allows you to earn government matching up to 5% of your pay, so your military Thrift Saving Plan (TSP) account can grow faster. This is a improvement to the military retirement system for the more than 80% of servicemembers who will not earn a 20+ year military pension.
Thanks to BRS matching contributions, I added an additional $4600 extra into my Traditional TSP from 1 Jan – 31 Dec 2021. Compounded over 40 years at 7%, that matching contribution grows to $68,000.
Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs, both Roth and Traditional), are $6,500 for 2023. $541.66 per month to max out your Roth or Traditional IRA.
Optimize your TSP Match Contributions With BRS
The BRS TSP match can be worth thousands per year if optimized correctly. The limiting factor is you have to contribute 5% each month, as the match is paid monthly.
Therefore, you do not want to make all of your $22,500 of contributions (the annual elective deferral limit) in the first 6 months of the year: you must space out your contribution for the full year if you want to receive the full match.
I used to front load my TSP contributions as fast as possible at the beginning of the year. Under the BRS, this is no longer optimal so I changed my contribution strategy.
Don't worry about going over the annual $22,500 limit. As long as you don't have another employer retirement account (401k, 403b, solo 401K), the DFAS computers will limit your final contribution to ensure that you max out the account without going a penny over. There was a glitch in 2021 and 2022 that allowed over contribution or “TSP spillover” but this has been fixed.
How Much Should I Contribute to the TSP to Get the Full Match?
The chart above shows the percentage you should contribute monthly for all enlisted, warrant, and officer ranks up to O-8 and 26 years of service. If you are an O-9 or have over 28 years of service, please have your aide run the numbers for you.
If you want to maximize your TSP contribution for the year 2022 ($22,500) and receive the full 5% TSP match you are eligible for, you must contribute at least 5% to the TSP every month.
The formula is pretty simple. Take your maximum elective deferral contribution limit of $22,500 in 2022. Divide by 12 months = $1875. Now divide $1875 by your monthly base pay to get a percentage of contribution.
For example, if your base pay is $5000/month, $1875/5000 = .375 or 37.5%. Round up to 38% because you can only elect contributions in whole percentages.
If you contribute 38% of your $5000 base pay, you will deposit $1900 each month into the TSP, Roth or Traditional.
The match always goes into the Traditional TSP for tax reasons. You will still get the match if you contribute to your Roth TSP, but the match will go into the Traditional TSP. You cannot change this.Side note
So by November 2023, you will have contributed $20,900 to your TSP. Your match will be worth $5000 * .05 = $250 per month or $3,000 for the entire year.
In December 2023, because you only have $1600 left of contributions ($22,500 – $20,900), the TSP or DFAS computers should only allow you to contribute $1600 and the remaining $200 will be returned in your December or January paycheck. A nice Christmas or end of year bonus!
Now you have maximized your annual contribution and received the full 5% match every month of the year.
You can change your contribution election on myPay for Navy, Air Force, and Army.
How much is the military TSP match worth monthly?
If you contribute at least 5% of your pay to the TSP under BRS, you may wonder how much that is worth each month.
How much is the BRS TSP match worth annually in 2023?
If you receive the full BRS match every month this year, it can be worth thousands of dollars depending on your pay grade and time in service. Compounded over a few years or decades, your TSP match can grow to tens of thousands of dollars by retirement age.
This additional investment can provide you with substantial additional income after financial independence or retirement.
2023 Military Pay Chart
Here is the 2023 military pay chart I based all my calculations off of.
Military TSP Match FAQ
The military automatically matches 1% of your basic pay into your military Thrift Savings Plan account. If you contribute at least 5% of your military pay to either the Roth or Traditional TSP, the military will contribute another 5% into your Traditional TSP. This can be worth $1000s every year.
Yes! Roth TSP is matched. The match, however, will go into your Traditional TSP account. When you open a TSP, you have 2 accounts inside the TSP: A Traditional account and a Roth account. You can contribute to either one and receive up a 5% match from your employer monthly. However, whether you contribute to Trad or Roth, the match ALWAYS goes into the Traditional account.
At a minimum you should put in 5% into your TSP. If you are enlisted or below the rank of O-4 (major, lieutenant commander), you should probably contribute the 5% to your Roth TSP. As your income grows, you should eventually contribute the maximum $20,500 per year to your military TSP account, while still ensuring you get the 5% match every year.
You can if the tax form or software asks you to report it. However you have already paid tax on this money before it goes into your Roth. Therefore, it does not lower your taxable income in that year.
To maximize your military TSP match you must contribute at least 5% of your pay every month from January to December. Therefore you do not want to max out your contribution earlier in the year. There is a chart on my site that will show you what percentage to contribute.
No, the standard TSP limit does not include matching. In 2023 you can contribute the full $22,500 and get matching on top of that, up to the “annual addition limit” of $66,000. The standard TSP limit is called the “elective deferral limit.”
If you want to max out your TSP contribution per pay period, you need to do some math. Take the total annual contribution limit $22,500 and divide by the number of pay periods (12). That's $1875 per month. Divide that by your base pay to get your monthly minimum contribution to max out your TSP by December 31.