At this point and here forward, I only contribute what it takes to get the company match. Additional savings go elsewhere. There is no way I won't take advantage of the free money (company match), but the outside chance of government takeover of 401k's or other penalties for people who have saved and "can afford to spread it around" keeps me wary of contributing more.
Besides the "conspiracy theory" sound to it, I just switched to this style of savings. Really no reason at all to contribute more to a 401k plan than what it takes to get the free money. I can put the additional savings into other plans with similar (or better) tax benefits, all with additional options and greater freedom if times get tough.
Some 401k plans, such as mine, allow you to take a penalty free loan, for a pretty low interest rate. This loan is simply backed by the 401k investment, so you don't lose any earnings. Don't think an IRA will do the same (pre-tax contribution).
And the $17,500 limit is only for pre-tax contributions to a 401k, correct? Any additional contributions can go toward an after-tax 401k (what's the point though unless just for match, right?).