Getting Money From Your 401(k) or Borrowing From Your Parents?


When you are unemployed, from savings, and your unemployment check does not cover the bills, you might need another place to turn for money. Based upon your situation, you might have the ability to withdraw cash from a 401(k) or ask your parents to get a loan. While neither option is perfect, here are a few considerations that will help you decide.


  • you may draw up to $50,000 from the 401(k), however you’ll owe interest and might owe taxes depending upon your age.
  • When you’ve got a Roth IRA, you can withdraw your contributions at any time without penalty or tax.
  • Should you borrow from your parents, it is ideal to have a formal, written agreement that details the conditions of the agreement.

You don’t need to take on expensive credit card debt. You can not get a loan if you don’t have an income. So do you sacrifice your future and draw from the 401(k) plan you had at your last job? Or do you swallow your pride and ask Mom and Dad or another relative for a loan?

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On March 27, 2020, President Trump signed into law a $2 trillion coronavirus emergency stimulus package known as the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act). It expanded unemployment insurance eligibility to gig and freelance employees and part-time employees who’d been impacted by the coronavirus.1

Retirement Savings

Your parents could be the type that are willing to assist you in any way they could. However, think twice before accepting their generosity.

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“The most important issue to consider is where the money your parents are giving you is coming from,” says Misty Lynch, a financial adviser with John Hancock. “If they’re wealthy and provide to assist you out of cash flow or savings, that might be a great alternative, because any distribution you make from the 401(k) will be subject to penalties and taxes. You may repay them and begin contributing to your retirement savings when you get back on your feet.”

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What you do not need is for the parents to give you money that is intended for their retirement. “If they spend down their retirement resources,” says Lynch,”that they may have no time to build up them. Working in their 70s or even 80s could be really difficult, and they may be forced to rely on you to help them out financially in the long run. If you do not want Mom and Dad living with you , it’s much better to select the distribution from your assets and make saving a priority when you return to work.”

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Borrowing From The Parents

Let’s say your parents can comfortably aid you. Borrowing money from family remains tricky. It may hurt your relationship if you don’t pay back the loan in time, especially if your parents do not agree with how you’re spending the money or running your job search.

Experts say you can minimize possible conflicts and prove you are serious about repayment by spelling out expectations upfront at a formal, written contract. “The child should also pay attention to the parents, like what they’d pay for borrowing from their 401(k),” says Ashley M. Micciche, CEO, and retirement program expert with True North Retirement Advisors in Clackamas, Ore.”Prime plus 2% is a good starting point.”

Other details, like the repayment period and the amount of each monthly payment, also needs to be in writing, ” she says. The challenge is that the child may have no way of earning loan payments straight away. “The best option here would be to enable the child to defer payments until they find employment, while the loan accrues interest–that should help incentivize the kid to find work soon,” says Micciche.

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Dennis LaVoy, a financial adviser with Telos Financial in Plymouth, Mich., adds that talking your short-term strategy to get another job and decreasing your expenses as much as possible, so that your parents do not feel you are spending frivolously can mitigate household tension.

Getting Money From Your 401(k)

You may withdraw up to $50,000 from the 401(k)–$100,000 in 2020 because of the CARES Act through the coronavirus outbreak. Usually, you’d owe a 10% penalty as well as taxes on your withdrawal if you’re younger than 591/2. But throughout the CARES Act period, early withdrawal penalties are suspended.2 make certain to consult the program’s 401(k) administrator to discover the rules.

The CARES Act doubled the amount of 401(k) money available for a loan to $100,000, while previously, it was the greater of $50,000 or 50 percent of your vested account.

Withdrawals from any retirement account risk damage to your long-term fiscal health. If a 401(k) withdrawal is the best or only option, how do you minimize the financial damage from the lost investment opportunity and early withdrawal penalties?

First, keep taxes in your mind. If you have already earned considerable income for the year, see if you can wait till next year to create a withdrawal, or at least restrict your withdrawal into the bare minimum, you’ll have to fulfill your essential living expenses for the remainder of the present year.

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Naturally, next year, you might become reemployed and owe substantial taxes on any 401(k) withdrawal, so always minimizing your early withdrawals is a solid strategy. 1 additional assistance from the CARES Act: Rather than due taxes on your withdrawal annually you take it, you have up to 3 years to cover the taxes due on cash withdrawn in 2020 because of the coronavirus outbreak.2

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Secondly, consider alternative sources of capital. “If you’ve got a Roth 401(k), you can take out your gifts –not the earnings on the investments–at any time without penalty or tax,” says Maggie Johndrow, a financial adviser with the Johndrow Wealth Group of Farmington River Financial at Farmington, Conn.. Similarly, for those who own a Roth IRA, you can withdraw contributions without penalty.

Third, maintain the drawback to your 401(k) balance in mind when job searching. “I’d suggest finding a job–or negotiating this when offered a job–which includes a 401(k) that contains a top employer 401(k) match. This might help reconstruct retirement savings,” Johndrow states. She also urges contributing beyond the minimum needed to get the employer match as soon as you’re working again and financing another retirement account, including an individual retirement account (IRA), to offset some of the retirement savings you withdrew while unemployed.

The Bottom Line

“If the child is a responsible adult, and it has fallen on hard times, and this isn’t a recurring issue, I would go to the parents for financing and establish a revival program in writing,” Micciche states. “The long-term effect of a withdrawal from a retirement account is quite damaging, particularly when it’s someone in their 20s and 30s.”

For someone 30 years from retirement, a $10,000 withdrawal which would have grown by 8 percent annually means a sacrifice in retirement savings of over $100,000. Additionally, as Johndrow points out,”You can borrow for almost anything in life–college, car, home –but you can not borrow for your retirement.”

This goes for both you and your parents. However, you likely have more years to make up for lost ground than they do. A loan from your parents is not a bad idea, but you need to take it only when they can afford it and you’ll repay the loan as agreed.

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