Does your 401k let you save more than the normal limit?

Matt Corthell, CFA, President and CEO |

For many executives in corporate America, the 401k is the primary savings vehicle for those planning for retirement. It’s with good reason, this plan offers the ability to save on a tax-deferred or tax-free basis. 

If you search on for what is the “401k contribution limit for 2024” you will likely find the following: 

  • Under age 50: Employee contribution limit of $23,000 

  • Over age 50: Employee contribution limit of $30,500 (includes catch-up contribution of $7,500) 

While this is accurate, it does not provide the full scope of what may be possible. 

For example, these amounts represent what you the employee can contribute, these values do not include the match. The total 401k contributions limit is actually far higher! 

For 2024, the total funds that can go into a 401k are as follows: 

  • Under age 50: Employee + Employer contribution limit of $69,000 

  • Over age 50: Employee + Employer contribution limit of $76,500 

Surprising right? Its right here on the IRS site. So what happens if your match and contribution are below the limit. Is there a way to contribute the difference? 

Let’s go through an example: 

Say you’re a 55-year-old executive working in the defense industry making $200k and your employer offers a 100% match up to 4% of salary. What do the contributions look like: 

  • As an employee you put in your max: $30,500 

  • Your employer puts in their match: $8,000 ($200k * 4%) 

  • Total Contribution: $38,500 

We just saw above that this executive should be eligible to put away as much as $76,500 between their own efforts and that of their employer. This means that $38,000 of eligible funds have not entered the plan! ($76,500 total limit - $38,500 contributed).  

So how do you fund the remainder of the 401k? Depending on the provisions of the plan, some 401k’s allow for after-tax contributions. In this example, if the plan allows for it, the executive could contribute $38,000 into the after-tax contribution! To know, you will need to check with your employer to see if you are eligible for after-tax contributions. 

In our next post, we will discuss the pros and cons of after-tax contributions.  

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The above is meant to serve as an example only. A complete review of one’s financial situation is needed to determine if the content discussed above applies to your situation. 


This commentary reflects the personal opinions, viewpoints, and analyses of Wooster Corthell Wealth Management, Inc. “WCWMI” employees. The information presented should not be viewed as a comprehensive analysis of the topics discussed but instead is general in nature.

The views reflected in the commentary are subject to change at any time without notice. WCWMI makes no representations or warranties as to the accuracy, timeliness, suitability, completeness, or relevance of any information presented.

This commentary may contain information that might assist you in the development of subsequent discussions with the appropriate professionals and should not be construed as tax planning, estate planning or insurance advice. Neither WCWMI nor its employees are accountants, attorneys, or insurance agents. Therefore, please consult your tax professional, attorney, and/or insurance agent regarding your specific situation.

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