Starting TSP at 39 yrs old


Q: I am 39 years old, an officer of 14 years in the Marine Corps, married (she’s 37) with 4 beautiful children, have 1 car payment worth 25,000k, don’t own a house or mortgage, and have spent the better part of the last 6 years paying off my student loans which were above $69k when we started. We are, thankfully, now in a position to begin investments especially considering we have a solid emergency savings established and very little consumer debt (the car is it and NO credit card debt…we’ve been working hard).

I am considering starting the ROTH TSP for myself and a ROTH IRA for my wife who is a stay at home mother. We don’t exceed the income threshold to contribute and we file jointly. We can contribute $1000 each month and we’re looking to put $500 away for her into a moderate aggressive fund through Vanguard or other firm and my $500 towards a C fund using ROTH TSP. I deploy for short periods of time to tax exempt areas in the globe so ROTH TSP seemed like a good way to contribute above the $5500 usual threshold. I feel like based on our age we can assume some risk and are planning on 65 as a target age for retirement. Here’s the question…..

Knowing our situation; where would you and how would you begin these two ROTH investments if you were in my shoes?

A: I’d put the Roth TSP investment into the following aggressive allocation:

55% C Fund
26% S Fund
9% I Fund
6% G Fund
4% F Fund

If you rebalance to this allocation at least once per year, it will produce an expected annual return of about 12% with a Standard Deviation of about 18%.

The Roth IRA I would open at a discount brokerage house (Schwab, Fidelity, TD Ameritrade, E Trade, etc.) with the contributions going into a similar allocation using Exchange Traded Index Funds (ETFs) like these:

55% IVV
26% IWM
6% SHY
4% AGG


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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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