So I'v been thinking a lot over the past year about retirement investing and I have discovered that how you invest your money in terms of taxation is very significant. Here's a brief plan for where I will place my money - First contribute to the max benefit of my employer match. After this I can contribute remaining money to a roth 401k/traditional 401k/roth ira. I will attempt to retire in the same tax bracket as I am while working by ending with a traditional 401k balance that would put me in a similar range of taxable income. This will obviously be very hard to do given that income changes, tax rates change, and return of investment is highly variable... but for the sake of this post we will assume that I will hit a traditional 401k balance that would put me at a similar taxable income in retirement. Any investments I make beyond hitting this specific traditional 401k balance will go into a roth account, weather it be a roth ira or roth 401k. Mathematically speaking if your tax rate is the same in retirement then it doesn't matter if you use a roth or traditional account (assuming you invest the tax return), which is why I will attempt to invest in a roth such that my traditional 401k doesn't actually put me in a higher tax bracket assuming I am fortunate enough to save this much. A side note - I might actually contribute to the roth first (aside from contributing up to my employer match) and "catch up" on the traditional 401k to hit my goal balance when I am closer to retirement so that it will be "easier" to hit a number such that my tax rate stays the same in retirement. So I guess my question is whether or not my plan mentioned above is in fact the most tax efficient method of saving or what thoughts/suggestions you guys have. Another question - is there ever a situation in which just straight up buying an ETF/stocks/etc in a brokerage account with after tax income and paying the 15% capital gains tax is a good idea? The only situations that I can think of is if the 401k and roth are maxed for the year, or if you plan on retiring before age 65 and need access to your money. So it doesn't seem like this is really a good idea but it is still tempting to me to throw some money into this form of investing simply for the sake of being able to access the money if I want to retire early. Thoughts? I hope my general line of thinking makes sense. Though I am not even out of school yet simply how I am taxed can literally cost or save me well beyond 6 figures so I figure I should get on the right track early. Thanks.