Can I Buy Gold With My TSP?

Thursday, June 20th 2024

Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) is a tax-deferred retirement savings and investment plan available exclusively to federal employees and members of the uniformed services. Designed to provide similar savings and tax benefits found with many private 401(k) plans, TSP forms an integral component of the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), serving as a key part of retirement planning for many federal workers.

Given today’s volatile economic environment and gold’s perennial popularity as an inflation hedge, some TSP participants may wish to diversify their portfolio with precious metals such as gold. Many individuals ask themselves “Can I buy gold with my TSP?”  This article provides comprehensive answers.

Understanding the TSP

Before exploring how you might buy gold with your TSP, it’s essential that you gain an understanding of its nature and investment options. TSP provides two types of accounts: traditional and Roth; the former allows pre-tax contributions while Roth accepts post-tax ones.

TSP provides five individual funds as investment choices:

Additionally, Lifecycle (L) Funds (1) provide an additional solution, acting as an amalgam of five individual funds designed to professionally adjust investment mix over time in accordance with an expected retirement date.

Can TSP Directly Invest in Gold?

The TSP, much like its 401(k) counterparts, offers limited investment choices. Unfortunately, it does not permit direct investing in physical assets such as gold and other precious metals; its funds consist of index or bond funds that do not include precious metals directly. Thus, when asked whether I could buy gold with my TSP directly, the answer must be no – at least directly.

Alternative Approaches to Gold Investment

Although direct investment of gold in a TSP isn’t possible, participants looking for exposure have some alternatives available to them.

Gold mining stocks: The TSP’s C Fund offers indirect exposure to gold mining or related activities if any of these companies engage in gold mining operations or activities.

Gold mutual funds or ETFs (2): Note that the TSP does not permit investment in individual stocks, ETFs or mutual funds that fall outside its predetermined options; however if TSP participants own an IRA or another investment account they could purchase gold-focused mutual funds or ETFs as an effective way of increasing exposure while remaining invested with their TSP plan.

Gold IRAs – An Opportunity

Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) provide greater investment options, including precious metals. A Gold IRA is a specific form of self-directed IRA that permits ownership of physical gold bullion directly as part of its investment portfolio – offering tangible and direct methods of investing in gold.

Rollover of TSP to an IRA without tax penalties can enable one to open a Gold IRA. Although the rollover does not directly translate to purchasing gold from your TSP account, it provides a means of investing in it by using funds from it.

Considerations and Risks

Gold can provide an effective bulwark against inflation and economic instability; however, it’s wise to understand all its associated risks first before making your purchase.

Before making the leap and converting your TSP into a Gold IRA, it is crucial to carefully evaluate all the associated issues.

Understanding the Rollover Process

Rollover refers to the process of moving assets from one retirement plan to another without incurring tax consequences, making the switch between TSP and Gold IRA an important one. Understanding the rollover procedure is critical when transitioning.

Contact your TSP plan administrator and initiate a direct rollover to your gold IRA custodian. This direct method prevents accidental tax implications while taking longer than expected.

Selecting a Gold IRA Custodian

Only certain financial institutions or custodians offer Gold IRAs, so it is crucial to choose a custodian who provides this service and has an outstanding track record in customer service and transparency. Before selecting one of your potential custodians, do your research thoroughly – inspect each potential option closely, looking for those that offer easy account information access with clear fees and cost information for each option.

Keeping Track of Your Gold IRA

Although the Gold IRA operates independently from your TSP, it’s still vitally important that it forms an integral part of your retirement plan. Make sure you include its results when looking at retirement readiness just like with TSP investment portfolios.


While TSPs cannot directly purchase gold, there are still ways for those interested in including it in their retirement portfolio to incorporate the precious metal. A well-planned rollover may provide one solution: but be mindful of any associated risks or costs before taking this route. Always consult a financial advisor prior to making any significant changes to your investment strategy.

Are you ready to add gold and silver in your retirement investment portfolio?

Making investments in gold can help diversify your retirement investment portfolio. Since gold has little to no connection with equities and bonds, it lowers your total risk. You can invest in gold through special gold IRA operators, which you can read more about below.

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