Continuing spouse’s 401(k) contributions during my retirement?


Q. I plan to retire from federal service in about three years and start my TSP withdrawals then. My wife will continue working at that point; she has a 401(k)-like plan at her job that she contributes money to now. She also gets a fixed contribution from her employer, i.e., it does not depend on her contribution. Once I retire, should she continue contributing to her 401(k) or not? That is, she could keep contributing $X a year and I would end up taking $X more out of TSP.  Or, she could stop contributing and I would take $X less out of TSP. The right answer would seem to depend upon the expected effect of volatility on contributions and withdrawals and I can argue myself into either answer. Any guidance on this?

A. If she keeps contributing to her 401(k) while you are withdrawing money from your TSP account, it’s like you are moving money from your TSP to her 401(k) account. If her employer contributions are not dependent upon her payroll deferrals, I think you should favor using her pay for spending and leaving your TSP alone for as long as possible.


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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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