How much is the BRS TSP match worth annually? 2018 Values

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If you opted into the Blended Retirement System (BRS), you should start getting an automatic agency match of 1% and up to an additional 4% agency match. The matching should start the month after you opt in. For instance, I opted in Jan 5, 2018 and saw my first matching on my February LES. The BRS TSP match can be worth thousands if you maximize it correctly.

Previously I would contribute as much as I could to the Roth TSP so I could max it out early in the year, usually by August. Now with the BRS, that strategy is sub-optimal, because the BRS TSP match occurs monthly.

If you want to get your 5% every month AND maximize your contribution for the year, you must contribute enough of your pay so you contribute at least 5% every month until December.

If you go over a bit in December, the TSP computers should reject the contribution and limit you to what you are legally allowed to contribute, or they will credit the over contribution in the next calendar year.

How Much Should I Contribute to the TSP to get the full BRS match?

If you want to maximize your TSP contribution for the year ($18,500) 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 $18,500 in 2018. Divide by 12 months = $1541.67. Then divide $1541.67 by your monthly base pay to get a percentage of contribution.

For example, if your base pay is $5000/month, $1541.67/5000 = .3083 or 30.8%. Round up to 31% because you can only elect contributions in whole percentages.

If you contribute 31% of your $5000 base pay, you will deposit $1550 each month into the TSP, Roth or Traditional. Therefore, up until November you will contribute $17,050. In December, because you only have $1450 left of contributions, the TSP computers should only allow you to contribute $1450 and the remaining $100 will be returned in your paycheck. Now you have maximized your annual contribution and receive the full 5% match every month of the year.

The chart below shows the percentage you should contribute monthly for all enlisted, warrant, and officer ranks up to O-8 and 26 years of service. You can change your contribution election on myPay for Navy, Air Force, and Army. Click to view full size or download the pdf: BRS-TSP-5%-match-maximize.

How much is the 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. Click the image for a bigger version or download the PDF.

How much is the BRS TSP match worth annually in 2018?

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. This additional investment can provide you with substantial additional income after financial independence or retirement. Again, click the image for a larger picture or download the PDF.

I hope these charts are valuable to you. Please share on your social media and leave a comment below if you have any questions about Blended Retirement System, the Thrift Savings Plan, or how to get the most out of the new system.

10 thoughts on “How much is the BRS TSP match worth annually? 2018 Values”

  1. I am an AFR. I did not opt into the BRS as I plan on completing 20 years for the pension. Wouldn’t it make sense to collect a guaranteed pension starting at 59 1/2? At the same time maxing out the TSP traditional IRA? Maybe I am in a unique situation where I max out my TSP Traditional IRA with my annual bonus, and work UCSF medical center where I can put money into the 457 account. I also am allowed to put another $56,000 into a DCP (after taxes) through Fidelity. The reasons why I am maxing out on 403b/457 is to be in a lower tax bracket. Taxes in CA are not low at all. Would like any feedback on ways to approach my thought process. Thank you in advance.

    • Probably too late to opt into the BRS anyways, so I wouldn’t worry too much about that. BRS still has a pension attached to it, it’s just been reduced a bit. Don’t confuse “TSP traditional IRA.” A TSP is NOT an IRA. An IRA is an “Individual Retirement Account.” TSP is a “employer sponsored retirement account,” like a 401k.

      I am not familiar with DCP – is that deferred compensation plan?

      Traditional vs Roth is break even if taxes remain unchanged in the future. Only do a Roth account if your taxes are artificially low due to Combat Zone Tax Exclusion or you are really young and just starting your career.

  2. Spencer I must say your blog has truly been a haven of knowledge and direction in navigating the world of military finance and creating the best future outcome from planning and diligence. Thank you very much for that.

    My question to you deals with how exactly the contributions are calculated pertaining to the match. Does the 5% match factor in to the total contribution limit? Meaning, do I account for the match as part of my total contribution, and therefore contribute slightly less each month to evenly distribute? You state to divide 18,500 by 12 and then contribute that amount, but I just want to avoid the IRS seeing the match as a higher contribution, and cutting off what I put in.

    I apologize for the naivity, I just can’t find an explicit answer. Thank you in advance!

  3. I recently learned that unless you specify your TSP contribution as traditional, even in a CZTE, the money goes into your traditional account. This means that your CZTE deposits are not taxed (because they are CZTE income) but your earnings will be taxed when withdrawn. You must specify the CZTE income as a ROTH TSP contribution to ensure that it is neither taxed now nor in the future.

    This leads me to wonder whether BRS contributions are taxed? They are a separate category on my LES. It does not indicate whether they are flowing into my ROTH or Traditional account. This leads me to believe that they are accumulating as taxable principle and taxable growth. This would substantially decrease the value of BRS.

    • This has existed since the Roth TSP was introduced a few years back. You have to specify in MyPay how you want your contributions allocated.

      BRS contributions always go into your Traditional account.

  4. Spencer would you suggest the Continuation go in a taxable account or Roth TSP I was planning to put mine there?

    • Depends on your tax situation. Do you know if taxes will be withheld on the payment immediately? If you are deployed or in a CZTE area it may behoove you to put it in a Roth TSP.

  5. This is getting at the kind of calculations I was making when I decided to opt-in. Several thousand dollars every year for the next 12 years, invested 80:20 in stocks:bonds then left to grow in the TSP for the next 15-20 years until real retirement at age 65-70 gives a pretty nice little side pot for retirement. And this is not even including the continuation pay, which is $20,000+ for many officers, which should definitely be invested in a taxable account. Taken together, the BRS ends up running pretty close to making up the difference between High-3 and Blended pension, perhaps even surpassing it for some people. I always knew that the BRS would be better in case one died early, before full retirement age, but I was surprised by how the BRS ended up looking even better over the long-term if left to accumulate until age 70 with even a modest asset allocation. Of course, if you live until 120 or so, the High-3 is probably going to come out ahead…

    • Excellent points. Probably best to take continuation pay while in a CZTE combat zone and put it into your taxable account like you said. That way you get the 5% match every month for the year, max out your TSP, and get untaxed money into your taxable account so it will only be taxed at long term capital gains rate when you withdraw.


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