Ep. 162: Maggie is almost divorced and is ready for a fresh start

Meet Maggie.

Maggie’s main concerns, in her own words:

Hi Pete,
Discovered your podcast a couple of months ago and have been binge-listening.  I get something out of every single episode. I calculated my power percentage at 38%…and my MDD around 2026, but in tinkering with other retirement calculators I’m being told that I’m woefully deficient in my retirement savings.  As far as I can tell I’m either in really great shape or really terrible shape, depending on which calculator I use.  I looked at my budget based on your ideal budget worksheet, and I’m functioning within its guidelines.  

Here’s my situation.  46 yo.  Two kids (16 and 11).  Almost-divorced and 100% on my own with nobody to fall back on (husband, parents, etc).  Although I hope I’m not alone the rest of my life, I’m planning my finances as though I will be.  I’d like to leave my current job, but I feel trapped here by the pay and benefits that I would not replicate elsewhere.

No debt except for my mortgage ($1,500/month) and a car payment which I only have due to 0% interest ($353/month balance of $14,000).  (I know how you feel about that).  I could pay off the car but that would ding my emergency fund and I hate to do that.  I use my credit card for regular expenses and pay it off every month.


  1. Fund majority of undergraduate degrees for both kids at state college
  2. Retire at 62 in a location with a lower cost of living
  3. Accelerate payment on mortgage. 
  4. Travel


  1. Should I roll those Coverdells into the 529s?
  2. Am I contributing enough to the 529s?
  3. What is the best (low-risk) place to stash that emergency fund?
  4. Should I still be contributing to the Traditional IRA even though I’m maxing out the TSP?
  5. Do I qualify for an HSA?  I don’t have a high deductible on my health insurance.  Is there another option to pre-save for medical expenses in retirement?  If I don’t stay at my job until 62 I don’t get the health insurance with the pension. 
  6. Am I using my “extra money” in the wisest possible way?    
  7. Is it ever going to be “safe” to quit this job, take a pay cut, and still have a comfortable retirement?

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