Can I cash out my 401k to pay off debt?

When credit card debt causes problems in your budget, you may consider withdrawing money from a 401k or IRA. If you have money on your retirement account, it can be tempting to use it to overcome your debts. Can I cash out my 401k to pay off debt?

Rules for withdrawing money from retirement accounts

There are basically two ways to get money from 401k. Retirement Plan:

  • Withdrawal of difficulties
  • A loan of 401k

Not all plans 401k plans allow you to withdraw from difficult conditions. It depends on the employer’s discretion. However, even if your 401k plan allows withdrawals in difficult conditions, credit card debt is usually not a reason for payment based on difficult conditions. The IRS sets out specific reasons why you may make difficult payments: 

  • Paying for some medical expenses
  • Costs associated with buying a home as your primary residence
  • Tuition, related educational fees and educational expenses
  • To cover the payments necessary to prevent eviction or exclusion from residence
  • Funeral and funeral costs
  • Expenses related to the repair of damage at home, including as a result of a natural disaster
  • Birth and adoption costs (up to USD 5,000)
Can I cash out my 401k to pay off debt?

Never touch your retirement plan

It is usually recommended to leave your retirement plan alone and look for other ways to attack your debts or meet your short-term financial needs. The logic is simple: you harm yourself in the future by making it difficult to retire if you fall into your retirement account.

If you choose to pay 401 (k), you will lose compound interest, deferred tax and, for some plans, continue to make contributions unless you repay what you have withdrawn.

Using a 401 (k) loan to pay off debt

If you do not qualify for difficult distribution and want to avoid stiff tax penalties associated with implementing your plan, you may have the third option. Some companies allow plan participants to borrow from themselves using a 401 (k) loan.

These loans have a lower interest rate than alternative options, are not taxed and do not affect your creditworthiness. Even if you have to pay the initial fee, the fee is probably lower than the tax penalties that you would face for withdrawing early. However, there are some disadvantages to a 401 (k) loan.

Consider other options first

An effective debt consolidation plan should allow you to repay your credit cards within five years.

If you can’t pay back your consolidated debt in five years, or if your total debt is more than half your income, you may have too much debt to consolidate. The best solution is to consult with a lawyer or credit counselor about debt cancellation options, including debt management or bankruptcy.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy and debt management plans require a maximum of five years repayment. Then the remaining consumer debt is liquidated. Chapter 7 bankruptcy immediately releases consumer debt.


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