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I have a quick question for all you seasoned investors out there. I bumped up my bi-weekly contribution into my 401k plan from 10% to 20% (because I decided not to buy into my stock re-purchase plan this year at work - wanted to diversify more and because the discounted buy-in price wasn't great). The max I can contribute into my 401K this year is 35% I believe.

I currently have and control 2 IRA's, a ROTH IRA and a cash account through an online broker. I would like to contribute to these accounts in order to buy individual stocks (gems, rulebreakers, and stock advisor picks, etc... -- yeah I am a FOOL) with any leftover money I may have from my paycheck, as I currently do. My question is: Is it smarter to max out my contribution in my 401K (since it is tax-deferred money) rather than contribute only 20% (as I do now) and take whatever taxed money I may have leftover from my paycheck and invest it in stocks through my online accounts?

I basically invest in my company's best mutual funds they happen to offer(Legg Mason Value Trust, Brown Advisory Emerging Growth Fund, and American Century Small Cap Value Fund) within my 401K. I definitely want to have money left over to buy the stock ideas presented in the newsletters that I like but I am just wondering what is the smartest thing to do long-term.

I usually follow the principle to max out the 401K but I'm not sure if I would have any money leftover to invest in the stocks I want to. I guess I just need to know tax-wise what the better thing to do is.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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