Has anyone ever taken an early 401(k) withdrawal (or an early withdrawal from any retirement account)? This is often viewed as a cardinal sin in personal finance, but this is a judgment-free space. I ask mainly because I'm wondering if you regret it now, or If you think it was the right choice.
I recently answered a letter from a 29-year-old woman who has over $100K of student loan debt and $55K in her 401(k). She asked if she should use the 401(k) money to pay down her debt because it's causing her so much anxiety. She pointed out that she still has at least 30 years to save and invest. https://www.thepennyhoarder.co...y-off-student-loans/
I said no for all the typical reasons: the lost earnings and compounding time, the taxes, the penalties, etc. But I still go back and forth on this a bit, mainly because the debt is causing the letter writer so much anxiety. Sometimes, the reaction to any mention of an early 401(k) withdrawal is so knee-jerk in personal finance. But I don't think it's always so black and white. Saving for your retirement is essential, of course, but it can be difficult to prioritize your needs 30 or 40 years from now when you're living paycheck to paycheck.
If you've taken an early 401(k) withdrawal, do you have regrets? No regrets? Or is withdrawing retirement money early a hands-down no for you?