Loans Might Not Be Permitted
Some employers don’t allow workers to borrow from their retirement accounts, so a 401 loan might not even be an option for you. Contact your plan administrator, or look at its website to see whether loans are permitted.
You may not borrow from a plan that was set up by a former employer. However, you may roll over that plan’s balance into your current employer’s plan and then borrow that money.
Borrowing Against 401s: The Real Cost Of 401 Loans
Are you thinking of pulling out a few thousand dollars from your 401 savings plan, and wondering if its worth it? If you go online, youre likely to find some great 401 loan calculators that you can use to estimate the true cost of a 401 loan. All you do is plug in a few numbers and can get a clear idea of what it really costs you to borrow from your 401 .
While many plan holders might think that the real cost of a 401 loan is just represented by the interest rate charged on the loan amount, the truth is very different. In reality, you could be losing much more than you think!
If You’re Thinking About Borrowing From Your 401 Consider The Pros And Cons First
- Borrowing against your 401 is generally frowned upon, but in some circumstances, it can make sense.
- When you take out a loan from your 401, you don’t have to fill out a lengthy application, the interest rate is typically lower than it is for a personal loan or business loan, and there aren’t any penalties.
- A big downside of borrowing against your 401 is that it harms your retirement saving potential. During the repayment period, you are barred from contributing to your 401.
- This article is for business owners and professionals who are thinking about borrowing money from their 401 retirement fund.
Ask most financial advisors about borrowing from your 401, and their response will be brief and blunt: “Don’t do it.”
Those three words mostly sum up the prevailing sentiment on the subject. Still, there are some situations in which borrowing from your 401 might make sense. If you’re considering taking out a loan against your plan, know the pros and cons first.
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How Much Can You Borrow
You can borrow up to $50,000 if you have a vested balance of at least $100,000 or 50% of the value, whichever is less.
You indicate to your plan administrator the account you want to borrow money from. Those investments will be liquidated. You will lose any gains those investments might make during the duration of the loan. Depending on the plan rules, you may or may not be allowed to continue making pre-tax contributions.
Who Should Withdraw From Their 401 Early
Just because you qualify for a hardship-related withdrawal doesnt mean you should take one without weighing all your other options.
The experts we spoke with were all in agreement that withdrawing from your 401 shouldnt be your first move. However, they also indicated that if youre truly in need, then you should take advantage of the CARES Acts allowances.
It should be a last resort option. People shouldnt get carried away and start using their 401 assets just because they can, Pfau says.
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Borrowing Against Your 401 Is It Ever A Good Idea
Many full-time and part time employees have the benefit of a company-matched retirement plan, referred to as a 401 for the part of the tax code authorizing it. These tax-deferred packages are the principal retirement vehicle for just over half of people in the United States. Americans put away about 6% of their pay in 401 plans to receive employee matching and tax breaks.
One feature many people dont realize about 401 funds is that the account holder can borrow against the balance of the account. About 87% of funds offer this feature. The account holder can borrow up to 50% of the balance or $50,000, whichever is lower, but the whole amount must be repaid within 5 years. Theres no approval process and theres no interest. Its basically a loan you give yourself, and is a popular enough option that 17% of millennial workers, 13% of Gen Xers and 10% of baby boomers have made loans against their 401 accounts.
Despite these benefits, borrowing against a 401 is a risky proposition. There are harsh penalties for failure to repay and taking money away from retirement savings is always risky. Borrowing from a 401 account should not be a decision that is made lightly.
As with most financial moves, there are benefits and disadvantages to borrowing from a 401. It can be difficult to sort through them, particularly if your need for money is acute and immediate. Before you borrow from a 401, though, ask yourself these four questions:
How Much Can You Borrow From Your 401
In general, you can borrow the greater of $10,000 or 50% of your vested account balance up to $50,000. You are limited to the balance in your current companys 401, not the collective balance of all of your retirement accounts. You may, however, be able to roll over funds into your current 401 to increase the amount you can borrow. You are limited to borrowing from the assets in your current employers 401 plan.
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What Other Options Are There If You Need Cash
- If you have a Roth IRA for five years, you can withdraw your original contributions at any age, free of federal taxes and penalties.
- For education expenses, explore scholarships or student loans. You can borrow for school but not for retirement.
- You can borrow against the value of your home with a home equity loan or home equity line of credit.
Seek Out A Personal Loan
If you have good credit and arent carrying a lot of debt, taking out a personal loan may be preferable to borrowing from your 401. Thats because you may be eligible for a lower interest rate and flexible terms. Because personal loans are unsecured, you dont need collateral to qualify.
Using LendingTree and depending on your eligibility, you may be able to see and compare personalized rates quickly and easily without impacting your credit. Youll need to complete a simple online form to see terms from up to five lenders.
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Circumstances When You Can Withdraw From A 401k If You Have An Outstanding Loan
Each 401 plan has different rules on 401 loans and 401 withdrawals. If your employerâs 401 plan allows employees to tap into their retirement money, you may be required to provide some proof to document that you are in an urgent financial need to get approved. The approval process is rigorous since allowing frivolous withdrawals puts the 401 plan at risk of losing its tax-favored status.
Some of the circumstances when you could withdraw money from your 401 plan if you have an unpaid loan include:
Roll Over 401 If You Have an Outstanding Loan
If you terminate employment with an outstanding 401 loan, you can rollover the money to an IRA or new employerâs 401. As long as the loan repayment was in good standing, the employer will rollover your retirement money net of the outstanding 401 loan. You will have until the tax due date to pay off the 401 loan balance.
For example, assume that you have a $50,000 vested 401 balance, including an outstanding 401 loan of $15,000. If you quit your job and request the plan sponsor to rollover the retirement savings to your new IRA, the plan sponsor will reduce the vested 401 balance by the $15,000 outstanding loan, and disburse the remaining $35,000 to your IRA. You will then have until the tax due date to come up with the $15,000 outstanding loan, after which you can rollover the $15,000 401 balance to your IRA.
Cash out 401 with an Outstanding Loan
Take a Second loan with an Outstanding Balance
What Are Alternatives
Because withdrawing or borrowing from your 401 has drawbacks, it’s a good idea to look at other options and only use your retirement savings as a last resort.
A few possible alternatives to consider include:
- Using HSA savings, if it’s a qualified medical expense
- Tapping into emergency savings
- Transferring higher interest credit card balances to a new lower interest credit card
- Using other non-retirement savings, such as checking, savings, and brokerage accounts
- Using a home equity line of credit or a personal loan3
- Withdrawing from a Roth IRAthese withdrawals are usually tax- and penalty-free
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Setting Up A 401 Loan
How to take out a 401 loan will depend on your plan and the funds in which your account is invested. Generally, it’s a fairly simple process. You should look at your plan description documents provided by your human resources department or your plan provider to find out what to fill out, how much you can borrow and what repayment terms are available. Determine how much you want to borrow and complete the required paperwork some plans will allow you to request a 401 loan online, while others may require paper documents.
How Long Do You Have To Repay A 401 Loan
You generally have up to five years to repay your 401 loan, and you must make at least quarterly repayments. You may be able to get longer loans under special circumstances, like when you use a 401 loan for your primary residence. Your employer may set different terms for any of the above, so make sure to check with your plan administrator before you withdraw money from your 401.
Regardless of the requirements of your plan and company, you may choose to make more frequent repayments or to borrow money for a shorter amount of time. Paying off a 401 early minimizes the opportunity cost of having money not compound in your retirement accounts. It also helps protect you from the consequences of not repaying a 401 loan if you suddenly lose your job.
Remember: Your company determines when you must repay your 401 loan by if youre no longer employed. While your company may allow repayment up until you file taxes for the current year, you must repay your loan by then. Otherwise, you may owe taxes or an early withdrawal penalty on the amount you borrowed.
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What Are The Cons
Besides the fees, your employer will likely stop their side of the match, if they were making one. Even when youre paying yourself back, your employer wont consider those funds a new contribution and therefore wont match it. It also might make it more difficult to qualify for a mortgage, as it can affect your debt-to-income ratio you should still be sure to shop around to find a lender that can offer you the best program that fits your financial needs. And of course, youll lose out on the compound interest your money would have been earning if youd left it in the account.
Of course, if you decide to withdraw rather than borrow from your 401, the main con is the giant tax hit youll suffer.
When You Are In Serious Financial Need
Sometimes, it makes sense to take a 401 loan when you are in a temporary period of financial need and have to cover expenses until you return to a more secure situation, Golladay says.
“Picture a scenario in which one spouse is let go from their job and the family is having trouble making ends meet on one income,” Golladay says. “The employed spouse might borrow from his or her 401 to cover the gap, and then pay that loan back promptly once the other spouse finds a new job.”
If it’s a specific need you are trying to finance, such as permanent disability or medical bill coverage, 401 plans typically offer withdrawal waivers where the additional 10% tax you’d typically be charged on the withdrawal is waived.
“There are different exceptions that qualify for a 10% early withdrawal waiver,” Marshall says. “I recommend finding out if you qualify for the waiver and using funds out of the proper account to fund your need.”
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To Make A Down Payment On A Home
Buying a home is a big expense, and as a result, more than 10% of Americans have dipped into their retirement savings in order to make a down payment on their first home, according to Bankrate.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing: “There are certain circumstances in which taking a 401 loan might make sense, such as making a down payment on a home, which is a worthwhile financial goal in its own right,” Golladay says.
If you choose this option, it’s importantto “ensure the size of the loan doesn’t keep you from continuing to save for retirement,” Golladay says. You want to be able to keep saving in addition to paying back the loan.
When determining how large of a loan to take, “less is more,” says Ryan Marshall, a New Jersey-based certified financial planner. “The maximum 401 loan amount generally is 50% of the vested balance or $50,000, whichever is less,” he explains. However, “I would say try to keep it to 10% of the portfolio or $10,000.”
Another thing to take into account is the housing market. In general, you should always ask yourself whether you’re planning to buy within “a favorable market for purchasing real estate,” Golladay says. Is it worth buying now, or should you keep saving up as you wait for better market conditions?
Can I Withdraw From My 401k If I Have An Outstanding Loan
Most 401 plans allow participants to tap into their retirement savings. Find out if you can withdraw from your 401k if you have an unpaid 401 loan.
When contributing to a 401 plan, most people have every intention of accumulating a sufficient retirement nest egg that they can live off in retirement. However, when heavy financial emergencies occur and you do not have an emergency fund, you could be forced to raid your retirement savings to settle the urgent financial needs.
Most 401 plans allow you to take a 401 loan against your retirement savings, or a hardship withdrawal if you are below 59 Â½. However, there are circumstances when you can withdraw from your 401 if you have an unpaid loan. For example, if you leave your job or are fired, you could rollover your 401 to an IRA or the new employerâs 401 even if you have an outstanding 401 loan. When this happens, the outstanding 401 balance will not be rolled over, and you will have until the tax due date to pay off the loan balance.
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What Happens If A Plan Loan Is Not Repaid According To Its Terms
A loan that is in default is generally treated as a taxable distribution from the plan of the entire outstanding balance of the loan . The plans terms will generally specify how the plan handles a default. A plan may provide that a loan does not become a deemed distribution until the end of the calendar quarter following the quarter in which the repayment was missed. For example, if the quarterly payments were due March 31, June 30, September 30 and December 31, and the participant made the March payment but missed the June payment, the loan would be in default as of the end of June, and the loan would be treated as a distribution at the end of September. -1, Q& A-10)
If Youve Already Taken A Withdrawal Or Loan You Can Recover
Stay calm and make steady progress toward recovery. It can be done. Build up a cushion of at least three to nine months of your income. No matter what incremental amount you save to get there, Poorman says, the key detail is consistency and regularity. For instance, have the sum automatically deposited to a savings account so you cant skip it.
Scale back daily expenses. Keep your compact car with 120,000 miles and drive it less often to your favorite steakhouse or fashion boutique.
Save aggressively to your 401 plan as soon as possible and stay on track. Bump up your 401 contribution 1% annually, until you maximize your retirement savings. Sock away the money earned from any job promotion or raise.
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Who Should Borrow From A 401
If you have a large amount of high-interest debt, such as from credit cards, tapping your 401 to pay off that debt and then pay yourself back at a lower interest rate makes sense.
You may also find yourself in an immediate financial emergency, such as needing money to pay the $6,000 deductible on your high-deductible health insurance plan before you can get medically necessary treatment. In that scenario or a similar one, you may understandably feel that you have no choice but to take the 401 loan.
Is Taking A Loan Against 401k Really Such A Bad Option
To preface, I am in no situation where I need to borrow any money. This is purely theoretical. Just a guy looking to understand finance. I have read so many places not to borrow against 401k. When I look into reasons why, I feel they are negligible compared to other options.
Scenario: Theoretical person is deciding between borrowing from 401 to put towards down payment to avoid PMI, or not borrowing, put minimal % down, and paying PMI. Let’s assume TP has a stable job.
In this scenario it seems like using 401 loan may be the best option for TP. This is effectively and interest free loan . While yes, TP is losing out on market returns while he has withdrawn that money, I don’t think this enough of a negative.
Let’s say you disagree with the above, wouldn’t that mean you would advocate someone with enough funds to put 20% down to instead to take a home loan with minimal % down, pay PMI, and put the excess funds into the 401? If so i’ve never heard this advice.
Other scenario would be to pay down credit card debt . Another possible reason to take a loan against 401?
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