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I have a 401(k) from my previous job. I left and was unemployed, but now I'm self-employed. Is it possible to contribute to that former 401(k)? Or do I have to create a Solo/Individual 401(k)?

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    A solo/individual 401(k) is often much better for you, as you use the full limits. – Aganju Mar 30 '19 at 12:30
  • @Aganju: Not only that, but lower expenses and many more investment options. – Ben Voigt Mar 30 '19 at 13:29
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No, you can’t. 401(k) plans can only be contributed to by payroll deduction. Once you leave the employer, there is no way to make additional contributions. You are allowed to leave the money in that 401(k) plan when you leave, but you can’t make any additional contributions.

If you want to close that 401(k) account, you can roll that money into an IRA or a Solo 401(k).

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I know of no 401(k) that will allow a former employee to contribute new money into a 401(k) program with two possible exceptions:

  • The final paychecks, which are likely to be after the last day of work. In the case of paying out of leftover vacation hours, or a severance pay, that can be weeks or months after the last day of work.
  • It is possible that they will pay a profit sharing amount after the last day of work. For my current company the amount is announced in the first week of January but paid in February. If you leave in between you still get the money. They always put the money into the 401(k).

The requirement to putting money into a 401K is have either a paycheck, or to roll other retirement money in. And they don't allow either to former employees.

Even if you could find somebody to allow you to contribute, there would not be any matching. Therefore you might as well use a Solo/Individual 401K or IRA for retirement funds.

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