The Short Version: Do you want a Self-Directed IRA or Self Directed 401k?

Most people come to our site looking for a checkbook controlled IRA… but self-directed IRA and 401ks have very different rules. Rules that determine your investment options and future tax bill. It’s your retirement; you deserve the best account for you.

  • Slide03

  • List of Self Directed Examples

  • Personal 401ks

  • 401ks - Only for big firms?

  • 401k for anyone

  • Easy Rollovers

  • Frank can contribute most of his side-business earnings

  • 401k or IRA - Big tax differences with real estate

  • Roth contributions to your 401k need larger buckets.

  • Key Considerations

  • 401k or IRA - Big prohibited transaction differences.

  • Service summary.

  • The bottom line summary

(Swipe right or left to advance slides or click the arrows that appear at the picture edge.)

Self Directed IRAs (or ‘checkbook control’ IRAs) have the following advantages:

  • Anyone can have one. It doesn’t matter if you have employees or not.
  • $5,500, or $6,500 if you’re over 50, from nearly any income source can go into it.
  • Any kind of retirement money can end up in some kind of IRA.

Self Directed 401ks (or ‘checkbook control’ 401ks) have the following advantages:

  • More than one person can be in a Solo 401k, and they can safely pool their money and invest together in the same asset.
  • You can put both Roth and Traditional money in it any given year, regardless of your income.
  • UBIT’s DFI doesn’t apply to real estate holdings. In plain English that means that leveraged money (like using a mortgage) isn’t taxable like it is in an IRA (even in a Roth IRA). No 990 forms to fill out like an IRA would either.
  • You can borrow half your account, up to $50,000, whenever, for whatever, with no taxes. It’s possible to borrow even more.
  • Accidents aren’t necessarily the end of the world. The bottom line is 401ks are much safer, with much lower (if any) penalties, and are less troublesome to operate.
  • $50,000+/yr can go into the plan per person.

The first things we hear after people read that comparison:

…But my money is already in an IRA?

That’s totally fine. Virtually any kind of retirement account can be rolled over into a Solo 401k. The only exceptions are Inherited and Roth IRAs. We offer those too; and ours have significant safety advantages over most. It’s your life savings. Safety should be a major factor.


Curious about rollovers? We’ve made an easy to follow chart for you at the bottom of this page.

Can I have a Solo 401k?

I have a job and a 401k already…
I’m retired…
I have employees…
I make a lot of money…
I don’t make much money…


Almost everyone can. At least 75% of the people we talk to can but didn’t think they could when they called. So a quick 5-10 minute call can answer the question for you very easily.


The general idea is that if you have any income that you earn, or try to earn, outside a regular 9-5 job working for someone else, then you can probably have one.

  • Freelance at all? You bet.
  • Have an business online? Perfect.
  • Realtor? Financial Planner? Do something else that gets you a 1099 at the end of the year? Excellent.

The rules are broad. Only a few people that can’t have one and there are alternatives for them.

Call 888-595-7313 or email [email protected] to setup a 20 min. consultation. It’ll be the most informative conversation you’ve had about your options. We’ll answer any questions and provide actionable investment options and examples. We guarantee it.