When it comes to retirement savings my husband and I have lots of options, maybe too many options. We have money to save, but aren’t sure if it makes more sense to put it in our Roth IRA, or increase the contributions to my husbands 401k at work. He wouldn’t get any matching from the 401K for more contributions, so that isn’t a factor. How do we figure out which is better, or would it make sense to split the money between the two accounts? We don’t have enough money to contribute the max to both accounts.
Great question and strong work you’ve done to be in this position!
The key difference, as you probably know, between the Roth-IRA and the 401k is how and when things get taxed. With the Roth, you make your contribution after you’ve already paid taxes on the earnings, but you won’t pay taxes when you withdraw the funds at retirement. For the 401k, you don’t pay taxes now on contributions but withdrawals will be taxed. For most people, their tax rate at retirement is less than during their working years (because income is lower) so being taxed on the “other end” is a good decision. Additionally, making a 401k contribution actually serves to lower your tax rate now because those contributions reduce your taxable income. Lastly, upping a 401k contribution, which comes out of paycheck on an automatic withdrawal, allows you to set it up once and forget about it. When it comes to saving, putting it on autopilot is always a good strategy.
So, I would say to max out the 401k and if you still have funds leftover, go ahead and put whatever is left in the Roth.