Have you raided your retirement nest egg lately because of something urgent that came up? If so, you may be among the 13% of Americans who have tapped their retirement savings to cover an emergency within the past 12 months, according to a Bankrate survey.
In a nod to an improving economy, the results are down from 19% who dipped into their retirement in 2011. Millennials are now the age group least likely to have tapped those savings, while 17% of those between the ages of 50 and 64 have done so, as have 1 in 6 upper-middle-income Americans.
And unfortunately, 9% of Americans — 21 million people — are not saving for retirement at all. That’s up from 7% in 2011.
Using retirement savings to cover an emergency is not a smart strategy. Instead, it represents a permanent setback to retirement planning. You face the possibility of taxable distributions, early withdrawal penalties, loss of tax efficiency, and the inability to replace withdrawn funds in future years.
So leave your retirement alone when financial emergencies flare up. Consider other options, such as picking up additional hours or part-time work, applying for a home equity loan or HELOC, taking out a personal loan from a bank or credit union, or even hitting up a relative or friend for some money.