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Upcoming Changes Make TSP More User Friendly

By Sgt. 1st Class Kathleen T. Rhem, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 3, 2002 – Upcoming improvements to the Thrift Savings Plan for both military and federal civilian employees will make the program easier to use.

Lt. Col. Tom Emswiler, an Army lawyer who directs the Armed Forces Tax Council in the Pentagon, said the most significant change will be that accounts will become daily valued, instead of the current monthly valued. All transactions will be updated daily, he said.

Other changes include better online access to accounts and participant statements expressed in shares and dollars, instead of just dollars as the current statements are.

All changes are due to be implemented Sept. 16. Emswiler said no action is required from participants. However, he cautioned, there will be a two-week period from the end of August until Sept. 16 during which participants will be unable to make certain changes to their accounts or make withdrawals.

"For that two-week period when they're actually transferring accounts into the new record-keeping system, there's going to be a pause in your ability to do certain things," he said. "But otherwise, this is basically going to be seamless."

TSP participants will gain the ability to make changes daily, "but this isn't meant to make you a day trader," Emswiler said. "Think about your long-term investment needs and don't move your accounts simply based on short-term market fluctuations."

He noted the Thrift Savings Plan is intended to be a retirement investment plan. "That means it's a long-term investment, you don't want to just jump around based on short-term needs," he said. "You want to develop your investment strategy based on what level of risk you're willing to accept, whether your needs are long-term or short-term, and then stick with that plan."

For more information on the Thrift Savings Plan, visit www.tsp.gov. A chart outlining the upcoming changes is available online at www.tsp.gov/forms/tsplf11.pdf.

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