While it may seem like financial heresy, there are some times when you shouldn't contribute to a 401(k).

The fees are too darn high! Fees are the silent killer. When they're around 2 percent, they eat away at your returns. Check out your plan's administrative, investment and management fees and if they're too high, just say no, says Glen Craig, publisher of FreeFromBroke.com.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Consider alternatives. If your employer doesn't match contributions, and doesn't have a lot of investment choices, look at a Roth IRA or IRA. "They provide similar tax advantages and a wider range of affordable investment opportunities," says Aron Gottesman, a professor of finance at Pace University.

Do the math. Reconsider contributing if you can't afford to reduce your take-home pay by the contribution amount after adjusting for the tax benefit, says David Altschuler, a certified financial planner in Woodbury.

And if you don't have 3 months' to 6 months' worth of emergency savings, re-evaluate the amount you're contributing to your 401(k) or stop contributing until you have your emergency stash. You don't want to have to tap your 401(k) if a problem arises; withdrawals can be costly due to tax penalties.

You're drowning in debt. If you're avoiding calls from creditors, consider paying down that debt before making contributions to a 401(k) plan, says New York Institute of Technology finance professor Steven Shapiro.

Your tax bracket changes. If your tax bracket changes, a 401(k) may not be your best option. Talk to your accountant.