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A finance question to throw out there to all...

I was always told that maxing out your 401K/403B is the ultimate goal for a stable and comfortable financial future. 

Asides from taking advantage of whatever your employer match is, is there any benefit to contributing additional money into a 401K or 403B as opposed to doing it yourself?

Sure, you get a small tax deduction for the year, but end up paying taxes on those gains down the road  

All of these plans charge fees (usually quite nominal) however I could invest my own money for free...

I am struggling with continuing to “max out” my 403B plan, versus putting in a much smaller amount... and either putting the additional money into a nicer home... or individual stocks.  

Just have to have the discipline to invest the money, and not blow all of the money...




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1) donate enough to your 401(k)/403(B) to get all available matching funds (it is the only time in life you get free money)

2) fully fund a ROTH IRA - Post tax funds fund, but since post tax funding, you don't have to pay taxes on the income when you retire (subject to IRS rules)

3) make sure your spouse is fully funding 401(k)/403(b) and ROTH

4) now you can go back and max out the contribution to the 401(k)/403(b)


I did this starting at age 22, and will retire at age 60 with about multi millions in the market and real estate (and I am a conservative investor and took no excessive risks and did not even put in more then about 15k/yr to retirement total...

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I hit the “stop” button at 59, have used my 457b since, will switch over to Roth IRA next year when my wife retires as well and we start tapping her 457b and Roth IRA.  We’ll then go for the three pensions and SSI starting at 65/63 respectively, unless I can hold off till SSI FRA caps at 66/10.  May need a silly PT gig to get there.

NEVER leave free money on the table (employer match).

Edited by GetMeOuttaThisMess
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Agree with above regarding maxing out for employer match. Consider also what you believe your tax rate will be when you retire. If you think it may be higher than now then a Roth offers more benefit.

If you think your tax rate is higher now then maxing out those pretax contributions will save you more money.

Of course other factors play in to the Roth idea (inheritance etc) as well as the income caps. I'm in that happy/not-happy range where I make too much to contribute.

If you're talking about just playing the stock market I'd recommend this video game store... can't remember the name...

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Obviously taking the maximum employer match is step 1 (agree with all of the above).


The question is... after that do you continue to contribute to the 403b (Small tax break each year on the contributions) but you pay a management fee.

Or take the extra money, and invest it on your own (Obviously you can fund the same ETFs or Mutual Funds that employers have available in the 403/401, but you can also invest in individual stocks.


I missed the GME/AMC boat 🙂

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I recommend maxing out the 401K/403B.  While there is a small management fee, the amount of tax you'll pay on those funds if you place them in an after tax self managed account will have a bigger effect by reducing the principal you have to invest.  Also, by reducing your taxable income, you may be eligible to make ROTH contributions that you otherwise might not due to income limitations.  Another tool you should consider is if you have a high-deductible health insurance plan, you can contribute to a health savings accounts (HSA) with pre-tax $.  Any withdrawals for healthcare expenses are not taxed.  At age 65, you can also withdraw for any reason, like you can from a 401K/403B/IRA.  So, the HSA becomes another retirement savings vehicle, essentially like another IRA.

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