Should I contribute more to my 401(k) and Roth IRA to reach my deferral limit in a given year?

I contribute enough of my income to my 401(k) plan to get the maximum match from my employer. I also have a Roth IRA that I occasionally contribute to. Contributing to both of these isn't enough to get me to the deferral limit for any given year. I have more than six months of emergency funds. Should I contribute more to my 401(k) plan or to my Roth IRA? Should I open up a brokerage account as well so that I can reach my deferral limit?

Retirement, 401(k), IRAs
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December 2017

This seems to end up as the opinion of the one answering this kind of question. If you ask tax preparers, they want to reduce current income taxes and defer growth. Financial advisors fall in the middle depending on their background and experiences. I applaud you for having six months of emergency funds and would ask you to consider the other possible events that could cause you to need money prior to retirement. Also, do you believe tax rates will go down by the time you retire? 

My advice is normally this: 1) get the maximum match from your employer through your 401k. 2) If you are able to contribute to a Roth then do the maximum contribution that you are allowed. 3) Look for other ways to grow your non-emergency money in the most tax efficient manner, i.e. growth stocks, zero coupon municipal bonds (if you can find some good ones), and whole/universal life insurance. You want to make sure that you can access money prior to retirement without IRS penalties and taxes. You also want to make sure that you do the best you can to reduce or eliminate taxes. Tax deferral simply puts off what you know about taxes today for the unknown taxes of tomorrow. It also locks you out of your money until you are 59.5 years old. 

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