A Pharmacist Wants to Retire at 55. How He Can Build a College Fund and Protect His Assets.

A financial planner offers advice, including changing life-insurance strategies

Jerry Zee is eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which he plans to use for his sons.

Photo: Jerry Zee

Jerry Zee, a commander in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. where he works as a pharmacist, has spent his adult life doing the things grandparents and financial advisers tell people to do: He avoids credit-card debt, he maxes out contributions to the military equivalent of a 401(k) and he has contributed to a Roth IRA since age 20.

Now, Dr. Zee, 41, wants to set up a college fund and he wants to ensure that he is on track to retire at 55, at which point he’d like to spend his time volunteering at his church.

Dr. Zee, his wife, Tai Ke, and their two children, ages 5 and 2, live in a two-unit condo in Queens, N.Y., that they own. They lease the other unit for $2,000 a month. They are about to move to a Long Island home they also own and plan to rent out the condo unit they are vacating for $2,300.

Dr. Zee earns roughly $122,000 a year. He also receives $68,000 a year in nontaxable housing and subsistence allowances. Ms. Ke doesn’t currently work outside the home.

If Dr. Zee stays in the military for another 14 years and reaches 30 years of service, he will receive a pension totaling 75% of his base pay. He contributes the limit to his military Thrift Savings Plan, about $19,500 this year; the balance is about $586,000. He has a Roth totaling $212,000 and has $100,000 in cash.

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