I have yet to hear Dave Ramsey recommend using the 401k for people who are not of age to pull it out without penatly. The reason is, that if you compute the penalty, the tax, etc, you find yourself essentially paying an excorbitant interest rate.
What many 401k participants, desperate for money, may forget is the cost of taking a financial hardship withdrawal. A $10,000 withdrawal does not equal $10,000 in your pocket.
“If you are under 59 1/2, you will lose 35 percent to 45 percent of the withdrawal in taxes and penalties,” Benna said. “You need to think about that.”
For example: suppose your tax filing status is married filing jointly and you earn $60,000 a year. That means your income falls in the 27 percent tax bracket.
If you take a $10,000 hardship withdrawal to pay for your child’s college tuition, you will owe $2,700 in federal income taxes and an additional $1,000 to cover the early withdrawal penalty. You’ll be left with $6,300, or less if you also owe state income tax.
Taking a hardship withdrawal can also result in longer-term pain — a less generous retirement.
Take the example of a person who, starting at age 30, contributes $5,000 a year to her 401k plan. At age 40, she buys a house and takes a $10,000 hardship withdrawal for the down payment. Let’s assume her portfolio generates an average annual return of 8 percent. By retirement at age 65, she will have $793,094. Had she not taken the hardship withdrawal she would have had $861,584, or $68,490 more.
A $10,000 withdrawal may seem insignificant today, but over time it can mean a lot. The trouble is making up for it in the account.
Tapping into the 401k should always be the last resort.
My 2 cents worth.