One big advantage of a 401(k) plan is that it is tax-advantaged—it helps minimize the amount of money Uncle Sam can grab from your pockets in the form of taxes.
But the best way to limit Uncle Sam’s reach is to make sure you are putting the right assets in the right pocket. In this instance, the pockets are either taxable savings accounts or tax-deferred 401(k) accounts.
The decision as to which account—taxable or tax-deferred—will hold your stock assets and which will hold your fixed-income assets while attaining your desired asset allocation is often referred to as the “asset location” decision. If you are just starting out and have savings only in your 401(k) plan, the decision is relatively easy.
But sooner or later you will be saving in both taxable and tax-deferred accounts. In this situation, your first decision, as always, is your asset allocation decision—the percentage of your total savings that you invest in the various asset categories.