Retirement investment


Q. Me: 55, married, retired military E-8, currently working federal civil service (WS-10 paygrade) since 1999.  Wife: 62, Homemaker.  All kids grown and on their own.
I invest 15 percent into the TSP at work; have a traditional IRA from a previous job’s 401(k) rollover; and have a Roth that I have been investing $2,000 a year into for years.
We recently paid off the home we bought in 1994, and now have additional money to invest into retirement.  I want to max out my Roth to $6,000 annually, which is painless due to the mortgage being paid off.  I’d also like to start a Roth for my wife, but don’t think I can max it out right now if I maintain the 15 percent into the TSP.
Question: Should I reduce my TSP investment by $6,000 annually to fully fund my wife’s IRA (suffering the tax increase now); or continue the 15 percent TSP investment, start a Roth for her at a rate we can manage, and increase it as money becomes available (and pay the deferred taxes on the TSP when we draw it out)? As it sits now, when I retire (hopefully in 2020 when I’m 65), we’ll have military and civil service retirements (w/TSP), Social Security (if it still exists), the traditional and Roth IRAs, and some other investments we have put away.

A. I generally recommend that federal employees contribute to their TSP accounts first, then to a deductible IRA or other tax-deferred retirement plan, then to a Roth IRA and then to a taxable account. I generally don’t like nondeductible contributions to a traditional IRA.


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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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