Scenario: I was unemployed from January through July 2021. I started new job at the end of July 2021. Employer allows me to join 401k plan after 90 days, which means I’m enrolled starting November 1, 2021. On a 40 hour week, paid hourly, assuming no vacations taken/holidays taken (as they are unpaid), my income would max out at around the $100k mark. I am paid weekly on Fridays.

From the above, there are 4 Fridays in November and 5 Fridays in December. Max gross pay, disregarding all the unpaid holidays, tops out at just shy of 17k.

I’m not entirely sure what the dollar amount would be if I decided to contribute the remainder of all my paychecks to the 401k plan, but regardless, my theoretical maximums would be below the $19,500 deduction limit. Would I be able to contribute other money I have (savings, etc) to hit the maximum?

2 Answers 2


The only way you would be able to contribute funds to a 401k outside of payroll deductions is to roll over a previous employer's 401k.

The main reason you can't do this, is that the law does not allow you to contribute funds you already received.

If you have more money to contribute consider opening a personal IRA or Roth IRA outside of your employer's plan. You won't be able contribute the full $19,500, but at least you could add additional money on top of what you have deducted from your paycheck.

Lastly, you could just contribute as much as you want to a normal (taxable) brokerage account. You've already paid the tax on the money when you earned it, so it isn't all that terrible of an alternative.


The answer to "Would I be able to contribute other money I have (savings, etc) to hit the maximum?" is No. 401(k) plan contributions must be deducted by the employer from the gross salary/wages per pay period and sent directly to the 401(k) plan administrator for investing on your behalf. You can't walk into HR or payroll with money (or a check) from your savings account and ask your employer to deposit it into 401(k) plan.

What you can do, if your employer allows it, is to contribute more than the standard 3% or 6% or whatever is the default rate set by your employer, for the rest of 2021 so that you can get to whatever amount (upper limit $19.5K as you know) that you wish to contribute for 2021 by the end of the year. If, as you say, you can afford to contribute your entire paycheck (allowing for Social Security and Medicare tax deductions) and your employer allows you to make such a large contribution, go for it. For 2022, you can reduce the rate of contribution so that you contribute the right amount for 2022 etc. But what about the shortfall in your take-home pay during the rest of 2021? How will you and your family live since you are not bringing home any money (or very little money if your employer restricts you to (say) 80% maximum of your salary as 401(k) contribution) from your job? Well, you can use the savings that you say you have and which you were wanting to use to contribute to the 401(k) plan to cover the shortfall in your take-home pay. Thus, if your employer allows it, you can effectively contribute from your savings to your 401(k) without anyone else noticing your sneaky underhanded ways or reporting you to the IRS or your employer as a law-breaker.

  • The question says that he's contemplated contributing 100% and it comes to only 17k, short of the 19500 he wants for this year. Because contributions won't start for 90 days.
    – Ben Voigt
    Oct 13, 2021 at 19:41

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .