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Seems to me the critical question is what are the investment options in your 401K and how do they perform. If you have an index fund option or good quality managed mutual fund you will be hard pressed to beat the tax advantages of maxing your 401K. But if the performance of investment options in your 401K is poor, then taxable accounts become more attractive.

If you have the same investment options taxable and 401K tax protected, 401K will always win. Only when you choose investments that out perform the 401K options does the taxable account win.

If your 401K has good options, you can beat that in a taxable account only with investment options that can yield over 30% consistently. (If your tax bracket is 28%, and index fund earns 20%, your taxable investment must earn 27.8% to be equivalent). That requires investment in go-go stocks or the right high performance sector funds like technology funds. These are high risk investments. You would want to try with only a portion of your savings.

For most of us, maxing the 401K is the way to go. Then do the taxable account with additional funds (unless you are investing for non-retirement expenses like house downpayment, education of your children, etc).
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