How To Borrow From Your 401k Account
To borrow from your 401k loan to finance a down payment, youll need to talk to your employers benefits office or HR department, or with your 401k plan provider. You can also consult your plan document to find out if your plan permits borrowing from your 401k to purchase a home.
Youll want to find out how much youre able to borrow, the interest youll have to pay, and the repayment period. Additionally, ask about repayment options, such as whether your employer will deduct the monthly payment from your paycheck or if they will allow you to make 401k contributions while you pay back the loan.
Loans To Purchase A Home
Regulations require 401 plan loans to be repaid on an amortizing basis over not more than five years unless the loan is used to purchase a primary residence. Longer payback periods are allowed for these particular loans. The IRS doesn’t specify how long, though, so it’s something to work out with your plan administrator. And ask whether you get an extra year because of the CARES bill.
Also, remember that CARES extended the amount participants can borrow from their plans to $100,000. Previously, the maximum amount that participants may borrow from their plan is 50% of the vested account balance or $50,000, whichever is less. If the vested account balance is less than $10,000, you can still borrow up to $10,000.
Borrowing from a 401 to completely finance a residential purchase may not be as attractive as taking out a mortgage loan. Plan loans do not offer tax deductions for interest payments, as do most types of mortgages. And, while withdrawing and repaying within five years is fine in the usual scheme of 401 things, the impact on your retirement progress for a loan that has to be paid back over many years can be significant.
If you do need a sizable sum to purchase a house and want to use 401 funds, you might consider a hardship withdrawal instead of, or in addition to, the loan. But you will owe income tax on the withdrawal and, if the amount is more than $10,000, a 10% penalty as well.
Low And No Down Payment Mortgages
Instead of getting a loan for your down payment, you can look into some of the government-backed loans that offer low and no down payment mortgages.
FHA Loans FHA home loans require a low 3.5% down payment, making them a prevalent option. With a down payment this low, you may not need to use your retirement account to afford the down payment.
VA Loans If youre a Veteran, you could qualify for a VA home loan with no down payment. This is one of the greatest benefits offered to Vets in our Country. Not only do VA loans provide 100% financing, but no mortgage insurance is required.
USDA Loans The U.S. Department of Agriculture guarantees USDA loans for low-to-median income families in the countrys rural areas. TDA finances 100% of the purchase price for eligible borrowers.
Conventional 97 Loan This type of conventional loan was created by Fannie Mae to compete with the low down payment government-backed loans. As the name suggests, a conventional 97 loan offers a 3% down payment, allowing you to finance 97% of the purchase price.
Home Possible / HomeReady Loans Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac created the Home Possible and HomeReady loan programs for first-time homebuyers who meet the income limits, have a 620 credit score and a 3% down payment. Your income must be below 100% of the area median income to be eligible.
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Do You Qualify For A Mortgage Without 401 Funds
With such a wide range of mortgageoptions and down payment assistance on the market, most people simply dontneed to tap their 401 in order to purchase a home.
On top of that, todays lowmortgage rates increase your home buying power by reducing monthly payments.Its easier to afford a home than ever before.
Before taking money out ofretirement, find out whether you qualify for a mortgage based on your currentsavings. You might be surprised.
Step by Step Guide
Should You Use Your 401 To Buy A House
There are good reasons for not using your 401 to buy a house. Even if youre comfortable with the 10% early withdrawal penalty, you will still be incurring long-term consequences by reducing your savings. That, in turn, will damage your future growth potential.
Taking out $10,000 from a $20,000 401 account, for instance, leaves you with only $10,000 that will continue accruing interest. With a 7% annualized rate of return, that $10,000 could become $54,000 over 25 years compared to $108,000 had you not withdrawn $10,000.
Withdrawing from your 401 account is essentially taking out a loan against yourself. If you want to pay it back, you also need to pay interest, and the time spent paying it back is time that could have been spent on growth.
Who Gets The Interest Payments From A 401 Loan
You get the interest you pay on the 401 loans, since you are essentially lending money to yourself. Keep in mind that the interest payments are made with after-tax dollars. That’s a downside to 401 loans, because those after-tax dollars will be taxed again when they’re taken out as a 401 withdrawal in retirement.
You Could Derail Your Savings Progress
It might be your goal to buy that house right now, but tapping into your retirement fund to make it happen might take you away from your future financial goals, experts say.
“By tapping even a small portion of your retirement nest egg early, you run the risk of derailing the progress you have made in saving for retirement in addition to the penalties and taxes incurred,” says Kenny Senour, a financial planner. “It’s true that you can begin to replenish the money you take out through your future paycheck deferrals, but it can take a long time to rebuild depending on how much is taken out.”
Financial advisor Jenna Lofton says you may also lose out on compound interest if you pull out a large chunk of your savings and take years to pay it back.
“If there was ever an investment where compound interest works in your favor, this is certainly one,” says Lofton. “These accounts are designed to have you living as comfortably post-retirement as you can envision yourself doing during pre-retirement.”
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Factors To Consider Before Borrowing From Your 401
Be aware that there are consequences that could potentially come with raiding your 401 early. For one, taking out money prior to retirement often results in penalties and fees.
Even if you take a loan that you plan to pay back, the pre-tax money you borrow from your 401 will ultimately have to be repaid using after-tax dollars.
It’s also worth noting that if you leave your job or are let go, you will have to pay your 401 loan back within a few months. Otherwise, it’s considered a distribution, which triggers income taxes and possibly an additional 10% tax penalty on the loan balance, Golladay says.
That’s why it’s important that you have a solid plan in place for paying it back in a timely way, Golladay says. Although borrowers are allowed five years to pay back 401 loans, doing so in three years or less is ideal, she says.
“By writing down a financial plan preferably with the help of a knowledgeable professional you can account and prepare for potential challenges with the goal of setting yourself up for stability in the short term and comfort in retirement,” Golladay says.
At the end of the day, pulling funds from your 401 early derails your savings efforts for retirement. The pre-tax money 401 participants contribute is intended to grow over the course of their careers, Golladay says. By taking a loan, you miss out on tax-deferred growth in the form of investment returns on that part of your savings until the funds are repaid.
Should I Tap My 401 To Buy A Home
First-time home buyers are often young and financially stressed, struggling with student loan debts, car payments and the costs of raising young children. Even for couples with two incomes, the task of saving for a down payment can seem impossible.
But wait, why not borrow from a 401-retirement account to cover the down payment? Its tempting for those who have large enough 401 accounts and employers that allow borrowing from it. Tempting, yes, but wise? It depends.
Federal tax rules allow you to borrow half the vested funds in your 401, up to $50,000, for a down payment, but only if your company plan permits it. The loan to yourself doesnt require you to pay tax on the withdrawal, nor are there any penalties. But it is a loan, and youre required to pay it back. Fail to return the money to your account and youll owe taxes and a 10% penalty.
Borrowing from a 401 beats the alternative, taking a hardship withdrawal from the account.
Borrowing from a 401 beats the alternative, taking a hardship withdrawal from the account. Though some company plans allow hardship withdrawals, youll have to pay taxes on the money you take out as well as a 10% penalty. Obviously, this is a costly way to access your money.
Both borrowing and early withdrawals have a common disadvantage they take money that should be growing to cover your eventual retirement and use it for another purpose.
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The Cash Out Alternative
One alternative to taking a 401k loan is to cash out your 401k for a housing down payment. If you do so, you can avoid the standard 10 percent penalty on an early withdrawal. This Internal Revenue Service regulation is permitted only in rare cases, such as first home down payments and hardship withdrawals, and it can offer great financial incentive to cash out of your 401k at a young age. Here, the money is not counted as a loan. Therefore, the mortgage lender would not count this sum as debt in your mortgage application, and you may be able to secure a higher mortgage.
Is It A Good Idea To Borrow From Your 401
Using a 401 loan for elective expenses like entertainment or gifts isn’t a healthy habit. In most cases, it would be better to leave your retirement savings fully invested and find another source of cash.
On the flip side of what’s been discussed so far, borrowing from your 401 might be beneficial long-termand could even help your overall finances. For example, using a 401 loan to pay off high-interest debt, like credit cards, could reduce the amount you pay in interest to lenders. What’s more, 401 loans don’t require a credit check, and they don’t show up as debt on your credit report.
Another potentially positive way to use a 401 loan is to fund major home improvement projects that raise the value of your property enough to offset the fact that you are paying the loan back with after-tax money, as well as any foregone retirement savings.
If you decide a 401 loan is right for you, here are some helpful tips:
- Pay it off on time and in full
- Avoid borrowing more than you need or too many times
- Continue saving for retirement
It might be tempting to reduce or pause your contributions while you’re paying off your loan, but keeping up with your regular contributions is essential to keeping your retirement strategy on track.
Long-term impact of taking $15,000 from a $38,000 account balance
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Alternatives To 401 Loans
Before taking out a 401 loan, whether retired or still working, you should look at other alternatives for borrowing. This is especially true if you want to pay off credit card debt or pay college tuition. Many banks offer low-interest alternatives. For example, a home equity loan may offer a similar interest rate and will not affect your retirement savings. Another thing to consider before taking a loan in retirement is whether youre taking on too much debt, especially if your main source of income is fixed. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau suggests that monthly payments for debt should be no more than 43 percent of your gross income.
What Happens If You Leave Your Job
If you leave your job with a 401 loan outstanding, you must repay the loan within 90 days. Otherwise, the remaining loan balance will be treated as a distribution and you’ll owe taxes and a 10% early withdrawal penalty on that amount. You will not be able to replace those withdrawals later on when you have more money. That means that you’ll also lose out on tax-deferred growth for that money that is offered through your 401.
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Borrowing Against A : What To Consider
Sarah Brodsky, March 2017
Ideally, money that you put into a 401 is supposed to stay there until you retire. The IRS imposes a number of restrictions and penalties on early distributions that are meant to dissuade people from pulling their funds out early. Still, the government recognizes that there are times when it’s appropriate to tap into that money, and it allows you to borrow from a 401 with some limitations.
What Happens If You Use Your 401 To Buy A House
Your 401 might be your largest asset, making it a tempting source of funds for your down payment but going this route isnt usually recommended.
Edited byChris JenningsUpdated October 11, 2021
Our goal is to give you the tools and confidence you need to improve your finances. Although we receive compensation from our partner lenders, whom we will always identify, all opinions are our own. Credible Operations, Inc. NMLS # 1681276, is referred to here as “Credible.”
Saving up for a down payment can be a major hurdle to homeownership, especially since it isnt the only expense in the mortgage process. You might need to come up with money for closing costs, moving costs, and modifications or furnishings for your new home as well.
If youre short on cash, one way you can fund your down payment is to draw from your 401. However, this comes with significant drawbacks.
Heres what you need to know about using your 401 for a home down payment:
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Weighing Pros And Cons
Before you determine whether to borrow from your 401 account, consider the following advantages and drawbacks to this decision.
On the plus side:
- You usually dont have to explain why you need the money or how you intend to spend it.
- You may qualify for a lower interest rate than you would at a bank or other lender, especially if you have a low credit score.
- The interest you repay is paid back into your account.
- Since youre borrowing rather than withdrawing money, no income tax or potential early withdrawal penalty is due.
On the negative side:
- The money you withdraw will not grow if it isnt invested.
- Repayments are made with after-tax dollars that will be taxed again when you eventually withdraw them from your account.
- The fees you pay to arrange the loan may be higher than on a conventional loan, depending on the way they are calculated.
- The interest is never deductible even if you use the money to buy or renovate your home.
CAUTION: Perhaps the biggest risk you run is leaving your job while you have an outstanding loan balance. If thats the case, youll probably have to repay the entire balance within 90 days of your departure. If you dont repay, youre in default, and the remaining loan balance is considered a withdrawal. Income taxes are due on the full amount. And if youre younger than 59½, you may owe the 10 percent early withdrawal penalty as well. If this should happen, you could find your retirement savings substantially drained.
Find Out If Your Plan Allows Loans
Many 401 plans allow you to borrow against them, but not all. The first thing you need to do is contact your plan administrator to find out if a loan is possible. You should be able to get a copy of the Summary Plan Description, which will give you the details. Even if your plan does allow loans, there may be special conditions regarding loan limitations. While there are legal parameters for 401 loans, each plan is different and can actually be stricter than the general laws. So get the facts before you start mentally spending the money.
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