How well do you know what your 401k can do for you? According to most financial advisors dipping into your 401(k) plan is generally a bad idea. There are certain 401(k) moves that could easily derail your retirement savings efforts and hurt you financially. Here are a few things you should avoid when it comes to your 401(k).
1. Cash It Out When You Switch Jobs
It’s no secret that millennials are known to job hop. If we don’t like how things are going at one job it’s nothing to go out and get a new one! Let’s just say we know our worth. However, just because you leave one job that has sponsored your 401(k) to date, doesn’t mean you have to to cash out your plan and start a new 401(k) with your next employer. Instead of having to deal with the early-withdrawal penalty, roll that money into an IRA or see about rolling it into your new employer's plan.
2. Take An Early Withdrawal
A lot of people were faced with having to decide if they wanted to access the money they saved in their 401(k) when the pandemic hit. Maybe you have a financial goal you're looking to meet and figure that the cash is yours, so why shouldn't you spend it? Well, if you tap your 401(k) now you’ll be hit with a whopping 10% early-withdrawal penalty on whatever amount you remove. The more money you remove from your 401(k) for non-retirement purposes, the less income you'll have access to when you're older.
3. Ignore Your Investments
Once you set up your 401(k) investments make sure you go back and check on them regularly. You don’t have to check on a weekly basis but scheduling a quarterly or semi-annual review would be wise. By saving in a 401(k), you're putting yourself in a great position to retire comfortably.
4. Borrow Money From It
Yes borrowing certainly is preferable to taking an early withdrawal, it's a move that could end up backfiring in several ways. Should you lose your job, you'll have to repay the loan more rapidly—by the due date for your next tax return. Before borrowing, consider that you'll have to repay the loan with after-tax dollars, and you could lose investment earnings on the money while it's out of the account.
5. Miss Out On Employer-Matching Dollars
An estimated 92% of companies that sponsor 401(k) plans also match employee contributions to some degree. When you fail to take advantage of employer-matching dollars, you don't just miss out on the money itself, but also on its growth potential. The most common match is 50 cents on the dollar up to 6% of the employee's pay. Most advisors recommend contributing enough to get the maximum match. Turning down free money doesn’t make sense unless the fund is so bad that you’re losing most of it to fees and substandard returns.