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however, my paycheck from that job is negligible, because the majority of my income from that job comes from tips. So should I start up the 401(k) or keep pounding away at debt?

I would contribute whatever you can to the second plan to get as much free money as possible. The investment options would have to be prety awful to make me pass up an instant 50% bonus. The only exception might be if you are planning to stop waiting tables before any of the matching funds vest.

This isn't either/or; you can contribute to both the 401k at your night job and your 403b day job, as long as you stay within the per-person contribution cap. If you need to, reduce your 403b contribution, e.g. to 5%, to replace the cash flow lost by the 401k contribution.

Good luck,
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