Author Topic: Financial/Investment questions from a federal civilian deploying to Afghanistan  (Read 1316 times)

MyCircus, MyMonkeys

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I'm a federal civilian about to deploy to Afghanistan for one year. I don't want to bore anyone with a comprehensive case study; but a brief summary of our expenses:
Primary home mortgage- $1484  ($300k value, $250k mortgage balance, 3.25%) and
Rental home mortgage- 1085 ($170k value, $100k mortgage balance, 3.5%)
car insurance- about $140 month (two cars, full coverage)
car payment- $310 ($9k value, $15k balance, 4%)
all others (utilities, groceries, gas, internet, cell phones, etc.): $800-900 month

I currently have about $40k in TSP, and my husband has about $1,800 in his 401k (low wage earner, also not maxing till very recently). 

These are my current goals; what do I need to change/improve?
1.  My husband and I will both be maxing our retirements at $18k for 2017.  *long story here: I will only be at $14k for 2016 (not maxing while we paid off CC debt earlier in the year).  Currently at $729 a pay period (trying to throw more in after debt was gone, but then got orders to Afghanistan), and will change to $692.31 on my last day of EBIS access.  Supposedly once in Afghanistan I can fill out a manual form and have HR on the East Coast change my TSP contribution, but my sponsor says that is not reliable.
2.  Funding two Roth IRA's (one for me, and one for my husband who works) for 2016 and 2017.
3.  After that, pay off negative equity of my car note. The loan balance is currently at $15k, 4% interest; but the car is only worth about $9k today. I want to pay off about $7000, then have my husband sell the car while I'm gone. I'll get a used one when I come back.
4.  After the Roth's (total of $22k, for both 2016 and 2017) and the car ($15k), I will have additional excess; but I don't know how much (I place no reliance on my numbers, they seem too big- I may have anywhere from $3k to 23k left).

I'm planning on moving from our primary house to a smaller, more affordable house after I return (less property taxes, less square footage to heat and clean, and no HOA), so I don't think its wise to pay down the primary mortgage (either mortgage really.  I plan to move from my primary home, and the rental mortgage interest is tax deductible).

Prior to learning about this deployment, I had planned on changing my deductions (from zero to 3) to lower my taxes next year, but I'm nervous to do that, as I'll now be making a boatload of extra money (I might be subject to AMT, and I'm not sure I can avoid that).

Should I change my current strategy? Should I change my TSP to as much as I can afford right now, even if it takes 4 months to change my TSP election? The worst I can think of would be not getting my agency match in December 2017.