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Employees Raiding 401Ks to Pay Bills
Old 12-06-2007, 11:56 AM   #1
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Employees Raiding 401Ks to Pay Bills

Just think of all the taxes and penalties
paid to the government when cash poor
employees raid their 401K retirement funds
to pay credit card and mortgage debt.

I wonder how many of those 401K loans
are ever paid back ?




Employees Raiding 401(k)s, CFOs Say

The economic slump will cut into employee bonuses, new survey results show, even as many workers are already taking hardship withdrawals from their retirement funds.


December 5, 2007

The weakening American economy is beginning to take its toll on corporate employees where it hurts the most: their salaries and savings.

The latest Duke University/CFO Magazine Global Business Outlook Survey, which polls 573 finance chiefs in the U.S. and 1,275 globally, finds that year-end employee bonuses will fall by 10 percent this year compared to 2006. That decline could be especially painful at a time when more employees are dipping into their retirement accounts in order to pay bills.

The survey finds that nearly 20 percent of companies have seen increased hardship withdrawals from 401(k) accounts, often to cover mortgage payments or to avoid personal bankruptcy.


"In the last four or five months we have seen an absolute onslaught of people trying to do hardship withdrawals and loans out of 401(k)s," Mark Anderson, CFO of Granite City Electric, told CFO magazine in October. "What has happened with housing and the economy has really blown up for people at the lower end of the spectrum."



entire article at link

Employees Raiding 401(k)s, CFOs Say - - CFO.com
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Old 12-06-2007, 12:39 PM   #2
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Some of my co-workers did that after Katrina. I can think of a lot of things I would rather do in a pinch, than take out a loan on my TSP (=401K). I guess they had no other choices left. The whole idea gives me the willies! Ugh.

That's like borrowing time from your future.
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Old 12-06-2007, 12:55 PM   #3
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Guilty. I raided my TSP before I understood the true consequences. All paid back now...today I consider myself wiser for having learned from my mistakes. Fortunately, in the big scheme of things, it was just money. Part of a long bumpy road to financial freedom!
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Old 12-06-2007, 01:54 PM   #4
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Raising my hand. Used it for DD's wedding. Will be paid back before retirement. Don't feel at all guilty or stupid about it--virtually all our savings are in our 401K; retirement income will be 100 % of preretirement income. Personal decision that made financial sense for us. Flame away.
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Old 12-06-2007, 01:56 PM   #5
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Raising my hand. Used it for DD's wedding. Will be paid back before retirement. Don't feel at all guilty or stupid about it--virtually all our savings are in our 401K; retirement income will be 100 % of preretirement income. Personal decision that made financial sense for us. Flame away.
What happens to that 401K loan if you lose your job ?
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Old 12-06-2007, 02:03 PM   #6
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The same thing that happens to any loan if we lose our jobs--we pay it back or it gets subtracted from our 401k balance. Either way not a problem for us.
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Old 12-06-2007, 02:36 PM   #7
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I've taken 401k loans twice. Two points- both were for downpayments on a house. And when I took the second loan I learned from the first and paid it back in 14 months (shortest repayment period allowed).

The first loan was taken around Feb of 2000, right before the tech crash. I actually saved/preserved money taking the loan.
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Old 12-06-2007, 03:34 PM   #8
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Raising my hand. Used it for DD's wedding. Will be paid back before retirement. Don't feel at all guilty or stupid about it--virtually all our savings are in our 401K; retirement income will be 100 % of preretirement income. Personal decision that made financial sense for us. Flame away.

Don't feel bad I worked an extra year for my daughter's wedding .
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Old 12-06-2007, 04:10 PM   #9
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Don't feel bad I worked an extra year for my daughter's wedding .
I have a dumb question....why is it that the bride's family has to pay the whole thing? Other than tradition, it doesn't seem that smart financially.........:confused:

DW and I paid for our own wedding, but then again my FIL was on Medicaid and her mom had passed away a long time ago, so it was up to us, or it wouldn't have happened.

I often reflect back to those times........in 18 months we accomplished the following:

1)paid off her student loans and mine in the amount of $8,000.

2)Paid for a wedding and honeymoon equalling $13,000.

3)Saved $15,000 to go toward a house in the future

So, we managed to save $36,000 in 18 months, and still kept the 401K and stuff going........

And I think our joint income at the time was roughly $70,000......so not bad.........

Kids slowed that savings rate down a little........
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Old 12-06-2007, 04:28 PM   #10
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In 1984 I took $17,000 out of my 401K to buy my first home. There was no penalty. I paid back the loan in 5 years - sold the house 9 years after the loan and realized a $74,000 net gain......that one worked out! Never would touch under any other situation.
But, If ...you were gonna lose your house w/o raiding your future(401K) what would you do? Today's pretty important also - that would be a sad place to be....
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Old 12-06-2007, 04:34 PM   #11
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What happens to that 401K loan if you lose your job ?
It is considered a withdrawal and may be subject to 10% penalty if not paid back before termination. I consider 401k 'loans' to be a tool of last resort...no big deal, but not to be done willy-nilly either. I think people are mis-lead by calling them 'loans'. They are liquidations, not loans!
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Old 12-06-2007, 04:42 PM   #12
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I used a 401k loan the last time I moved. It was effectively a bridge loan while I owned both places. As I recall, I took the loan out for the maximum duration allowed, but actually paid it back within a few months, once I sold the old place. The alternatives were to sell appreciated securities and take a tax hit, pay much larger fees for a conventional loan, or not move. It seemed best to pay a tiny fee and temporarily sell some 401k assets.

Your 401k plan may have different rules. Mine did not have any restrictions on paying back the funds early.
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Old 12-06-2007, 04:49 PM   #13
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I have a dumb question....why is it that the bride's family has to pay the whole thing? Other than tradition, it doesn't seem that smart financially.........:confused:
They don't have to I just offered .
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Old 12-06-2007, 04:57 PM   #14
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Well you can't raid the equity in your home anymore because of the RE/credit bubble, so what else can you raid to pay your bills if not your last remaining asset i.e. retirement accounts? Retirement is for wimps anyways... Plus there is always social security!
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Old 12-06-2007, 05:51 PM   #15
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What happens to that 401K loan if you lose your job ?

you have to pay the loan back immeadiatly or pay a penalaty and taxes.
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Old 12-06-2007, 08:30 PM   #16
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"I have a dumb question....why is it that the bride's family has to pay the whole thing? Other than tradition, it doesn't seem that smart financially........."

Actually, the groom's family shared the expense--we all just wanted to have a great party. And we (parents of the bride and groom) paid for our own wedding and school thanks partly to the GI bill and created a nestegg too back in the day.

I realize the original post is talking about hardship withdrawals and not 401K general purpose loans--it must be so difficult to be in that position. Anyone think the CFOs surveyed and higher ups are giving up their own bonuses if their employees are being given smaller bonuses this year?
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Old 12-06-2007, 09:19 PM   #17
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Here's a stupid question: what is a 401(k) "loan" ? A 32 year old co-worker announced to me he planned to cash out his 401(k) for a down payment on a house. I told him it was usually a bad idea to cash out a 401(k), but didn't go into any details with him. I know taxes and penalties will reduce the amount he gets significantly if he cashes out. So, maybe he would find a "loan" useful?
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Old 12-07-2007, 08:25 AM   #18
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Most 401(k) plans have a loan provision by which you can borrow from your account, and then begin making payments. You are, in effect, paying yourself, including interest. However, in my plan, for example, you cannot contribute to the plan duing your payback period. You should check with your plan administrator for more specific details. In general, while taking a loan is not a good idea because it is a detour in the road to retirement, it's better than cashing one out, by far...
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Old 12-07-2007, 09:06 AM   #19
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plus, if you have loan and leave the company, you generally have to finish off the loan in a lump sum, or pay taxes on the early distribution.
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Old 12-07-2007, 11:58 AM   #20
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Thank you Puzzley, Sandy--I will pass along this information. I'll also try to talk him out of it by calculating what he would actually get if he cashed it out. I think he'll be shocked when he sees what taxes and a 10% penalty do to his distribution!
The loan wouldn't work, since the 401(k) is with a company he is going to be leaving soon.
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