what’s the dealio with retirement accounts?

After my screed from yesterday I started wondering what everyone else is doing with their retirement accounts – 401(k)s and IRAs.  Personally I passed on the IRA this year (I wasn’t eligible for a normal IRA, just a Roth) and I have upped my 401(k) to ensure the maximum contribution this year.  I did this on the assumption that I’m buying at bargain prices, an assumption that I question almost hourly these days.  So what’s the thinking?  Part of me says it’s time to put spare cash in, well, cash… in order to get ready to invest in real estate or other types of investments (p2p lending, building a business, whatever).