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1. I'm not familar with the details of the Thrift Savings Plan but my understanding is that the contribution limits would be controlled by the plan and the IRS reqirements and I believe that the limits will be the same as for a 401k. The IRS limit for 2006 will be $15,000 plus an additional $5,000 for those over 50 years of age.

2. Employer contributions do not count toward the contibution limits.

3. will provide the contribution limits for the next several years assuming the feds do not change any of the provisions.

4. I suggest you check IRS Publication 590 to see the conditions under which you can contribute to a IRA.

I have heard a lot of positive things about the TSP and I think you could do a whole lot worse than using index funds in retirement accounts. I would suggest you do some more reading about index funds including some of the online debates on the Fool message boards regarding the recent Fool article that you referenced. might be a place to start.

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