Maximizing TSP matching


Q: I contribute to TSP. I am a little confused about the maximum amount per year. It’s $16,500 for 2010. I contribute 15 percent to TSP and have been doing so for some time. My understanding is that I should have been doing the math and updating my TSP deposit amount over 26 pay periods of the year. I have not done this for a while but want to get back on track.

My problem is that I’m not sure how to maximize. Is it as easy as dividing 16,500 by 26 pay periods? I don’t understand what that would do for my matching. I understand if I max out too early then I lose weeks of matching, so I would appreciate your advice on this subject. My base is $111,888 and as of Aug. 14 I had $13,525 TSP savings for the year. I think I’m done for this year and have to think about next. Do I need to reduce down from 15 percent?

A: It’s as easy as dividing the annual dollar limit by the number of paychecks in the year. Check with your payroll office for guidance on the exact number of checks you’ll be receiving.


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Mike Miles is a Certified Financial Planner licensee and principal adviser for Variplan LLC, an independent fiduciary in Vienna, Virginia. Email your financial questions to and view his blog at

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