I was in the same predicament as you mentioned above on this thread. After doing some googling and reading a slight page of Dave Ramseys book, he pretty much mentioned the same thing that @Maykel said. Max out 401K. After that, invest in IRA (I would say ROTH) so when you pull out in the future, its already taxed. I personally am doing this now. Just started it. I would not want to get taxed from only pulling out from 401K. You mentioned real estate, I would recommend this for sure. More ROI and its monthly if you get a good deal. I would personally not buy right now. It is a sellers market now. I will wait for prices to tumble. I will be saving on the side to purchase another home.