After two weeks of volatility in the stock market, and the potential for plenty more ahead, some unlikely winners may have emerged: The growing number of workers who have taken loans from their 401(k) plans recently.
For years, financial advisers have warned investors not to borrow money from their 401(k) plans, citing lost stock-market gains and the possibility of incurring steep taxes and fees. In many cases, those warnings went unheeded: About one in seven workers borrowed from a 401(k) plan in 2010, with many plans reporting double-digit increases in borrowing.
With many investors receiving their paychecks today and tomorrow, it’s a good time to ask: Do I have enough savings to handle another economic downturn? And if not, should I cut my 401(k) contribution rate to help shore up my emergency fund?
Of course, how you answer these questions depends largely on where your think this roller-coaster market is heading — the Dow was up more than 200 points this morning, after falling more than 500 points yesterday. But before you rush to make any changes, financial advisers recommend revisiting your monthly budget (or creating you if you haven’t already) to see if there are other ways to cut costs and increase your savings without reducing your contribution rates. If you do decide to make a change, ask your employer how to access your 401(k) account online and how many free adjustment you can make a year (the vary from employer to employer). After making the adjustment, check the correct amount has been deducted from your next paycheck.
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