Skip to comments.Over 25% of 401Ks Tapped to Pay Current Bills
Posted on 01/16/2013 3:13:05 PM PST by Kaslin
At an increasing rate, even during the alleged recovery, consumers are tapping their 401Ks to pay current bills according to a study by advisory firm HelloWallet as describe in the Washington Post article 401(k) breaches undermining retirement security for millions.
A report due out this week from the financial advisory firm HelloWallet found that more than one in four workers dip into retirement funds to pay their mortgages, credit card debt or other bills. Those in their 40s have been the most likely culprits one-third are turning to such accounts for relief.
The withdrawals, cash-outs and loans drain nearly a quarter of the $293 billion that workers and employers deposit into the accounts each year, undermining already shaky retirement security for millions of Americans.
Fresh data from Vanguard, one of the nations largest 401(k) managers, show a 12 percent increase in the number of workers who took loans against their retirement accounts or withdrew money outright since 2008.
In 2010, 28 percent of participants reported having an outstanding loan against their retirement accounts, an all-time high, according to a survey of 110 large employers by Aon Hewitt, a human resources consultancy. And nearly 7 percent of employees took hardship withdrawals that year roughly a 40 percent increase since the recession, while 42 percent of workers cashed out their plans rather than rolling them over when they changed jobs.
401(k)s are not being used for retirement by a large and growing share of workers because they are misaligned with the very basic financial problems most workers face and must address, said Fellowes of HelloWallet, which provides benefits advice to companies.
Using data from the Federal Reserves Survey of Consumer Finances and the Survey of Income and Program Participation, conducted by the Census Bureau, the report said 30 percent of households earning less than $50,000 a year had cashed out a retirement plan for non-retirement purposes. Only 12 percent of households earning between $100,000 and $150,000 a year and 8 percent of those earning more than $150,000 a year have cashed out a retirement account, the report said.
The investment advice out there needs to recognize that a large share of participants is not going to use the money for retirement, so they should not be exposed to risky investments, Fellowes said. There is no investment adviser in the country who would put workers in the stock market if they were told the money being invested was for short-term needs.Mortgage Connection?
The Washington Post article failed to note "why" people were tapping their 401Ks.
I suspect, but cannot prove, that many low-income households are desperately clinging to their underwater houses, from which they would be better advised to seek council, then walk away.
Higher income groups seem to have less aversion to walking away than those who struggled all their lives to get a home, only to get one at exactly the wrong time.
The mentality "My house is the only thing I have" is tough to fight. However, the reality is many homes are worth less than zero because of underwater situations.
Unfortunately, the financial industry is geared to giving the worst advice to the least well off. Counseling groups (typically bank-sponsored) encourage people to keep their dead-fish "assets", best flushed down the toilet.
There are other possible reasons of course, and right at the top of the list is car loans, another depreciating asset.
Lose Your Job, Then You're in Trouble
I do not advise tapping your 401K for numerous reasons, but right at the top of the list is the lost-job nightmare.
Please consider these problems as excerpted from the 401K Calculator article Everything You Need To Know About Borrowing Against Your 401K.
Seriously, if you are hitting your 401K for cash you either no long believe the stock market will be functioning in the near future... or you have already tapped all other assets and you need the cash to survive. Either way, its somewhat insulting to scold them. Its going to get a lot worse than this. And I'm the optimistic one in the room!
Yuck. Sorry about all the typos. Cat helping.
Why don’t all these people just raise their debt ceilings??
I’m living off of my 401k. Does that make me a bad person?
Don’t give him any ideas
Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow your 401K’s will be confiscated.
I cleaned out one of my (well-funded) IRAs to pay off my house. I also figured that tax rates would never be lower and that the government WILL have to seize retirement accounts in the near future, just to be able to reset the clock on the national debt...which otherwise cannot be sustained.
Which is why I’m watching and thinking about grabbing mine - nothing to do with bills. Of course, I’m sure that when they do it’ll be retroactive.
You shouldn’t tap into your 401K until you really retire. I won’t tap into my TSP (401K equivalent for federal employees/retirees) for quite a long time. I’m letting it grow, which it has done quite well since I retired two years ago.
“Keep you 401! Live in your car!”
I doubt people can understand what you wrote, so I’ll help a bit.
The US debt is GIGANTIC. There is no way that we will ever make progress paying it down. We have half of this country that are pure takers (welfare and everything related), and we even have half of us FReepers as almost-pure takers (i.e., “don’t you dare touch my Social Security”).
So our deficits continue, our debt is TOTALLY unmanageable, but there remains a HUGE pot of gold in retirement accounts - enough to cover the ENTIRE national debt, and them some (probably).
So the feds know this, and they know that they MUST get their hands on the money (as opposed to telling FReepers that the country is really, really, broke). So they TAKE the money and replace it with an annuity (i.e., a monthly payout, like Social Security). That will work for another 5 to 10 years (at which most can retire), but after that, we’re STILL broke and spending like mad, and have no more pots of gold - and then we collapse, and INFLATION finally sets in, and all our money is worth, maybe 25 cents on the dollar (at best, 10 cents in other countries that have been through this) - and the idea of buying a plasma next year goes away - and the dream will be affording some meat so our kids don’t look quite as gaunt...
I haven’t drawn mine down, but I stopped contributing to it when I realized that using plastic for groceries now for something 30 years down the road made no sense. I’m paying down debt, but if I ever am able to contribute again I wouldn’t go any further than the company match.
I have no doubt that one of the fixes for social security is that it will be based on means, and the grasshoppers will be whooping it up after setting aside nothing with money set aside by the ants (while the ants get reduced payments because they’re “rich”). People have to adjust to the current socialism by getting as far off the grid as possible; I know there are limitations as to what can be done, but playing by the rules has turned into a sucker’s game in which the sucker too often watches his/her hard-earned money given to useless garbage.
Contrast the Katrina response to the Sandy response; Sandy happened to “wealthy white people” as far as the government and their media are concerned, and the response has been predictably sluggish.
“How long will it be before Obama signs an executive order to confiscate 401Ks...We already know the Republicans won’t do anything to stop him.”
My first thought when I saw this story was, they might as well spend it because the government WILL take it eventually. Or inflation will eat up.
The best thing you can do now is simplify your life as much as possible, become as self sufficient as you can. Shop second hand via Craig's List and garage sales when prudent. And understand that when they sold you that 401k and told you it was going to be comparable to a traditional company pension, they lied to you.
Before the election we had our 401ks positioned aggressively, heavy in stocks. Now we are 100% tax advantage municipal bonds (State Farm calls it TABs). Was it a smart move? I have no idea. I'm just hoping it makes enough to barely keep up with inflation while offering some small protection from an inevitable catastrophic stock market correction.
But honestly, the future of all 401ks look pretty bleak. I don't know about you, but I was told my money would double every ten years. What a freaking joke. I would have done infinitely better if I had invested a monthly sum into buying a little silver or gold.
Will Obama reach out his evil greedy fingers and scoop up all our 401ks? Not openly. But he may cause the biggest stock market crash in our lifetime. And just when people are the most destroyed, he will step in and offer his hand, like God reaching down to Adam. He will declare that in order to protect your retirement accounts from this kind of disaster ever happening again... all 401ks will be required to contain a high percentage of Government Bonds. And people will THANK him for it. And just like that, our retirement is yet another tool of government control over our lives.
Ah! I get so depressed when I think to much about it!
But if you have any further advice I'd certainly be interested. I try to stay prepared and informed, but honestly most of the time I feel like we are all being drug along helplessly.
I did learn one single positive thing about this financial disaster. We plan on stying in our home long long term. And we have stopped sending extra payments. We no longer want to pay the note early. At least when inflation destroys the value of our savings, the same number of dollar bills will still pay a house note.
Look! I wrote a book! I sure don't blame you if you decide not to read this. :p
I wouldn’t call that a book. Read my home page if you want that (i.e., there’s a reason why FR is slower these days...LOL).
Yea, it was a tough call for me, but I ultimately went the other way and decided to pay off my mortgage. I was paying 5% on it, and not getting a red cent on my savings or one of my IRAs. So screw it, I get 5% by paying down my mortgage. I ended up cashing out a rather large IRA last year after deciding to eat the 10% penalty. I simply don’t want that money available for their taking later and I know that no one, at least here in Texas, can touch my house (as long as I keep up with taxes).
I only wished I had done this earlier, as I probably lost $15k just twiddling my thumbs the past few years.
Gonna check out your home page!
“Im living off of my 401k. Does that make me a bad person?”
If you are below retirement age, yes. Very bad. Awful, wicked, reprehensible.
It’s 10% PLUS your current tax rate which is probably higher than when you retire.
I find that people pull money out of 401K’s for another reason. They can’t stand the thought of having money and not spending it. Why else would you rather lose 40% of the account rather than make 5%?
“Yes Mr Bob, if you invest with me, I can promise a -40% return. You are guaranteed to lose money with me”
“Well slap my ass and call me Sally. Where do I sign?”
And what, pray tell, is retirement age?
The age when you can receive 401k distributions without penalty.
Wait a minute, the government decides about the penalty. So you trust the government to decide when we should retire. What if they raise it? What if they decide NEVER is a good time for you to retire?
“Why else would you rather lose 40% of the account rather than make 5%?”
“Yes Mr Bob, if you invest with me, I can promise a -40% return. You are guaranteed to lose money with me”
Dinner time now...between my legs...have at it.
How about you treat people with a bit more RESPECT on this sit, particularly when you don’t know their details?
In my case, I can PROMISE you that I will, at least, be in the 25% bracket when I retire, simply because I have a REAL pension coming to me. So your 40% hit just dropped to 15%. From there, it winds up closer to 10%, due to my specifics.
You may be MORE THAN HAPPY to have your IRAs turn into “Annuities”, but I am not, and I will take steps, even costly ones, to NEVER let that happen. I will soon OWN my house here in Texas and NO ONE from the government will be able to do jack about it.
“Yep. I wish we were closer to having ours paid off and could do the same. I’m so jealous!”
Yea, but you’re so cool, you can do it. Just STOP spending money on ANYTHING that doesn’t pay for itself. For example, the McDonald’s Dollar Menu, at least for their McDouble, in my book, pays for itself (not just the cost of food, but the energy to cook it and the cost to clean up)...so good investment. But fries, and especially, drinks, NO WAY. And don’t even get near eating out (other than McDoubles) during work, or Starbucks.
It’s a lifestyle change, but only for a short time. Live like crap...look at what it really costs for food that good enough to live on...and go with that. Pasta and rice is still cheap. Mix it with some other (better) stuff and you’re set.
Keep at it!!! At 30K you’re in the HOME STRETCH. Push it through and the payment is GONE...maybe very soon (and make sure they send you the lien release).
“Dinner time now...between my legs...have at it.”
I’m a guy. You may be into having sex with men but I am straight. So, you need to move to the next guy.
Just responding in kind, no prob. if you’ve changed from yesterday.