Can I Contribute to a Traditional Ira and a 401k

You may be able to contribute to both a traditional IRA and a 401(k) plan. An individual retirement account (IRA) is a tax-advantaged savings account for retirement. A 401(k) plan is an employer-sponsored retirement plan that allows employees to contribute a portion of their paycheck, before taxes, to an investment account. The contribution limits for these accounts vary depending on your income and other factors. It’s important to understand the contribution limits and consider your financial situation when deciding how much to contribute to each account.

Understanding IRAs and 401(k)s

IRAs (Individual Retirement Arrangements) and 401(k)s are tax-advantaged savings plans designed to help individuals save for retirement. Both plans offer different features and benefits, but they both share the common goal of providing a tax-deferred way to save for the future.


IRAs are individual retirement accounts that are available to anyone who has earned income. There are two main types of IRAs: Traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs.

  • Traditional IRAs: Contributions to Traditional IRAs are tax-deductible, meaning that they reduce the amount of taxable income you have in the year you make the contribution. However, withdrawals from Traditional IRAs in retirement are taxed as ordinary income.
  • Roth IRAs: Contributions to Roth IRAs are not tax-deductible, but withdrawals in retirement are tax-free. This makes Roth IRAs a good option for individuals who expect to be in a higher tax bracket in retirement than they are now.


401(k)s are employer-sponsored retirement plans. They are similar to Traditional IRAs in that contributions are tax-deductible, but they have some additional features and benefits.

  • Employer matching contributions: Many employers offer matching contributions to their employees’ 401(k) plans. This means that the employer will contribute a certain amount of money to the employee’s 401(k) for every dollar that the employee contributes. Employer matching contributions are a great way to boost your retirement savings.
  • Higher contribution limits: 401(k)s have higher contribution limits than IRAs. In 2023, the contribution limit for 401(k)s is $22,500 ($30,000 for individuals age 50 or older). The contribution limit for IRAs is $6,500 ($7,500 for individuals age 50 or older).

Comparison of IRAs and 401(k)s

Employer matching contributionsNoYes
Contribution limits$6,500 ($7,500 for individuals age 50 or older)$22,500 ($30,000 for individuals age 50 or older)
Tax treatment of contributionsTax-deductible for Traditional IRAs, not tax-deductible for Roth IRAsTax-deductible
Tax treatment of withdrawalsTaxed as ordinary income for Traditional IRAs, tax-free for Roth IRAsTaxed as ordinary income

Contribution Limits

There are annual limits on how much you can contribute to your traditional IRA and 401(k) accounts. For 2023, the contribution limits are as follows:

  • Traditional IRA: $6,500 ($7,500 if you’re age 50 or older)
  • 401(k): $22,500 ($30,000 if you’re age 50 or older)


To contribute to a traditional IRA, you must have earned income and be below certain income limits. For 2023, the income limits are as follows:

Filing StatusPhase-out BeginsPhase-out Ends
Married Filing Jointly$116,000$136,000
Married Filing Separately (must live apart from spouse all year)$0$10,000
Head of Household$59,000$79,000

To contribute to a 401(k) plan, you must be employed by an employer that offers a 401(k) plan. Most employers do not have income limits for 401(k) contributions.

Maximize Your Retirement Savings: Combining Traditional IRA and 401(k) Contributions

Enhancing your retirement security requires a strategic approach to savings and investments. Traditional IRAs (Individual Retirement Accounts) and employer-sponsored 401(k) plans offer complementary options for building a substantial nest egg.

Contribution Limits for 2023

Contribution TypeLimit
Traditional IRA$6,500 ($7,500 if age 50 or older)
401(k)$22,500 ($30,000 if age 50 or older)
Roth IRA (not covered in this article)$6,500 ($7,500 if age 50 or older)

Benefits of Combining IRA and 401(k)

Combining contributions to a Traditional IRA and a 401(k) provides several advantages:

  • Higher Contribution Limits: The combined contribution limits allow for substantial savings.
  • Tax-Deferred Growth: Both IRAs and 401(k)s offer tax-deferred growth, reducing your current tax liability and allowing your investments to accumulate faster.
  • Investment Flexibility: IRAs generally offer a wider range of investment options compared to 401(k) plans.
  • Early Withdrawal Penalties: Penalties for early withdrawals apply to both IRAs and 401(k)s. However, you may be able to avoid some penalties by withdrawing from an IRA first.

Contribution Order

To maximize your savings, consider the following contribution order:

1. Contribute to Employer-Matched 401(k): Take advantage of any employer matching contributions, even if it requires reducing IRA contributions.
2. Max Out Traditional IRA: Contribute up to the annual limit to a Traditional IRA, taking advantage of the tax-deferred growth.
3. Continue Contributing to 401(k): If you have additional funds available, contribute to your 401(k) up to the annual limit.


By combining contributions to a Traditional IRA and a 401(k), individuals can significantly enhance their retirement savings and reach their financial goals. Carefully consider the contribution limits, benefits, and contribution order to optimize your long-term financial security.

Investment Options

Traditional IRAs and 401(k)s offer a wide range of investment options, allowing you to tailor your portfolio to your specific financial goals and risk tolerance.

  • Traditional IRAs: Typically offer a broader selection of investments, including stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and ETFs.
  • 401(k)s: Often have a more limited investment menu, typically consisting of mutual funds and target-date funds.


Diversifying your portfolio across different asset classes (e.g., stocks, bonds, real estate) is crucial for managing risk. Both traditional IRAs and 401(k)s can help you achieve diversification.

  • Traditional IRAs: Allow you to invest in a wide range of assets, providing more opportunities for diversification.
  • 401(k)s: May automatically allocate your contributions to target-date funds, which provide instant diversification based on your age and retirement date.
Diversification StrategyTraditional IRAs401(k)s
Asset AllocationCan choose from a wide range of assetsMay have limited options
Target-Date FundsNot typically offeredOften provided
FlexibilityMore flexible in terms of investment choicesLess flexible, employer may set investment options

Thanks for reading! I know planning for retirement can be a bit overwhelming, but it’s so important to start early and make the most of all the options available to you. If you have any more questions or want to dive deeper into the nitty-gritty of retirement savings, be sure to check out my other articles or come back and bug me again later. I’m always happy to help you nerd out on your finances!