National Consumers League

Strapped for cash? Join the club!


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Times are tight. Seems like you can't turn on the TV, open a newspaper, or connect to the Internet without seeing news reports about consumer bankruptcies and concerns about a recession.

Lately, we’ve been hearing about consumers being so strapped for cash that they’re tapping into their 401(k) or other retirement accounts. Our friends at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the largest non-governmental regulator for all securities firms doing business in the United States, are noticing this trend too. They’re reminding consumers to research the terms of any 401 (k) loan agreement you’re considering, including the interest rate, any fees, and other applicable terms before drawing on these accounts.

As a last resort, you may want to look into whether you qualify for a hardship withdrawal from your 401(k). This is not a quick fix; you have to apply to prove your hardship, you probably won’t have access to contributions by your employer, and there are other fine-print-type details. Read more to find out more about how this works.

Yikes! You know the economy's getting rough when people are using their retirement cash to pay for gas and other bills. We’ll keep our ear out for more information on this trend and continue to provide you with as many money-saving tips as we can.