Many people believe borrowing from their 401(k) account is a smart idea because the interest rate is generally lower than a commercial loan. While that might be true, it doesn’t help with the ultimate goal of long-term investing. Here are some of the reasons why borrowing from a 401(k) isn’t the best choice:
- Stop Saving: Many plans won’t let investors make any contributions to the account until the pay off the entire loan. Or the borrower will be unable to make contributions because they will paying off the loan. Either way, there is no money growing in the account.
- Financial Red Flag: If someone is having to borrow from their 401(k) after exhausting all other options, it could be a sign that they are living beyond their means. This is a habit that could possibly follow them into their retirement years, making it difficult for them to retire with a decent amount saved.
- Career Issues: Often these loans must be paid back immediately if the investor quits their job. That could trap them in their current job, or cause issues if they suddenly lose their job.
Before an investor borrows from their 401(k), they should think it through completely. Use a different way to finance the loan if possible. Or, maybe they need to reevaluate their lifestyle and why they need the money in the first place. Borrowing from a retirement account could have significant long term consequences.