Retirement raiders: More tap 401(k) early

Rainy day relief
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Rainy day relief

The most commonly cited reason to raid a 401(k) was job loss.

''I was unemployed for six months last year and cashed out about $5,000 of my retirement to supplement my unemployment and pay the bills,'' writes one reader, a woman named Dena from Washington state. "Yes, it was financial hardship. Nothing fancy on how it was used -- mortgage, utilities, day care (no way I could look for work and care for a toddler) and food."

She also "played the credit card, balance-transfer game on another $5,000." The rate was just 1 percent, which allowed her to pay it off in six months.

Dena is 40 years old, and hopes to eventually replenish her retirement savings. A trained librarian, she's now working on a contract basis, which means no 401(k) matches from her employer. She adds, somewhat cryptically: "Have a master's degree if that matters to you (LOL -- didn't matter in the job search.)"




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