Editor’s note: This is a transcript of the audio file.

Economic times have been tough for consumers…causing many to tap their retirement accounts for emergency purposes. I’m Kristin Arnold with your Bankrate.com Personal Finance Minute.

Bankrate.com’s April Financial Security Index poll found 19 percent of Americans have tapped their retirement account, and that’s just in the last in the last 12 months. And it’s not confined to people who are out of work, 17 percent of those employed full-time, admitted to having done so in the last year.

While it’s fortunate that people do have the retirement savings to fall back on when they absolutely have no alternatives, t apping your retirement account should be a last resort. It depletes your nest egg, subjects you to taxes and penalties and it deals a permanent set-back to your retirement planning because you can’t go back and make up for those withdrawals you’ve taken.

Evidence of an improvement economy hasn’t eased the minds of Americans…as one-in-three say their overall financial situation is worse today than it was 12 months ago.

The Great Recession reaffirmed forgotten lessons from the Great Depression. Namely, saving money, minimizing debt and forgoing borrowing are the best insulation from financial adversity.

To read more poll results, visit Bankrate.com. I’m Kristin Arnold.