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Should You Tap into Your 401(k) To Cover Your Debts?

Career

You know the expression about something being too good to be true? That’s the case when it comes to borrowing from your 401(k). This might seem like a good idea when it comes to making a large purchase or paying off debt, but there are consequences. You are not just borrowing from yourself. Because of the effects of compound interest, you’re actually borrowing from your future self, and robbing yourself of the blissful retirement you deserve. And why would you want to do that?


If you are thinking of borrowing from your 401(k), here are some important things to consider first.

You’re Missing Out on Money

Interest rates on 401(k) loans can be very appealing. You have the ability to borrow your own money and pay interest to yourself rather than a bank. Seems like a good deal, right? But not only are you missing out on the effects of compound interest, but the market may end up making money.

What this means is when you take out a loan you’re actually selling your assets. Then, when you go to repay your loan, you may end up buying shares in a fund at a higher price.

It is also important to note that if you’re unable to repay your loan within the time frame allowed, your loan will be considered an early withdrawal. This mean you will pay a 10% penalty if you are under the age of 59 ½ and have to pay extra income tax.

You Get Taxed Twice

For a traditional 401(k) plan, you make contributions with pre-taxed dollars. You won’t actually pay any taxes until you withdraw from your account as income during retirement. However, by borrowing from your fund, you will effectively be taxed twice. This is because you’d be paying back the loan with after-tax dollars. Then, when you wish to withdraw during retirement, you will be taxed again.

You Can’t Make Contributions Until the Loan is Repaid

Typically, most 401(k) plans will not let you continue to contribute money until you have repaid the full amount you have borrowed. Since this could take years, this means missing out on years of potential contributions (and the effects of compounding interest). You will miss out on the growth and interest you would have accumulated had you just left your money where it was.

It Could Be Risky

If for some reason you stop working or are let go by your employer, you may be required to repay the loan in full within 60 days. If you cannot meet the payment obligation, your loan will be considered an early withdrawal and you’ll have to pay the 10% penalty as well as income taxes! Talk about a big blow to your bank account!

You’re Stealing from Yourself to Pay Someone Else

By using your 401(k) to pay off debt, you are essentially just moving your debt around, as you will still have a loan that needs repaying. Some see this as a better option than paying a bank because interest rates are lower. However, even if you pay your loan back on time, you will have lost out on maximizing the effects of compounding interest. You are really just robbing from your future self.

Now you can see why taking a loan on your 401(k) may not actually be a great idea. While it may seem like an easy way to access immediate funds, you’re only hurting yourself. Instead, make a plan to save for a big purchase or develop a debt repayment plan that doesn’t involve needing to dip into your 401(k). With proper planning and a little patience, there are usually ways to reach your goals without compromising your future.

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Lifestyle

Going Makeupless To The Office May Be Costing You More Than Just Money

Women have come a long way in redefining beauty to be more inclusive of different body types, skin colors and hair styles, but society's beauty standards still remain as high as we have always known them to be. In the workplace, professionalism is directly linked to the appearance of both men and women, but for women, the expectations and requirements needed to fit the part are far stricter. Unlike men, there exists a direct correlation between beauty and respect that women are forced to acknowledge, and in turn comply with, in order to succeed.


Before stepping foot into the workforce, women who choose to opt out of conventional beauty and grooming regiments are immediately at a disadvantage. A recent Forbes article analyzing the attractiveness bias at work cited a comprehensive academic review for its study on the benefits attractive adults receive in the labor market. A summary of the review stated, "'Physically attractive individuals are more likely to be interviewed for jobs and hired, they are more likely to advance rapidly in their careers through frequent promotions, and they earn higher wages than unattractive individuals.'" With attractiveness and success so tightly woven together, women often find themselves adhering to beauty standards they don't agree with in order to secure their careers.

Complying with modern beauty standards may be what gets your foot in the door in the corporate world, but once you're in, you are expected to maintain your appearance or risk being perceived as unprofessional. While it may not seem like a big deal, this double standard has become a hurdle for businesswomen who are forced to fit this mold in order to earn respect that men receive regardless of their grooming habits. Liz Elting, Founder and CEO of the Elizabeth Elting Foundation, is all too familiar with conforming to the beauty culture in order to command respect, and has fought throughout the course of her entrepreneurial journey to override this gender bias.

As an internationally-recognized women's advocate, Elting has made it her mission to help women succeed on their own, but she admits that little progress can be made until women reclaim their power and change the narrative surrounding beauty and success. In 2016, sociologists Jaclyn Wong and Andrew Penner conducted a study on the positive association between physical attractiveness and income. Their results concluded that "attractive individuals earn roughly 20 percent more than people of average attractiveness," not including controlling for grooming. The data also proves that grooming accounts entirely for the attractiveness premium for women as opposed to only half for men. With empirical proof that financial success in directly linked to women's' appearance, Elting's desire to have women regain control and put an end to beauty standards in the workplace is necessary now more than ever.

Although the concepts of beauty and attractiveness are subjective, the consensus as to what is deemed beautiful, for women, is heavily dependent upon how much effort she makes towards looking her best. According to Elting, men do not need to strive to maintain their appearance in order to earn respect like women do, because while we appreciate a sharp-dressed man in an Armani suit who exudes power and influence, that same man can show up to at a casual office in a t-shirt and jeans and still be perceived in the same light, whereas women will not. "Men don't have to demonstrate that they're allowed to be in public the way women do. It's a running joke; show up to work without makeup, and everyone asks if you're sick or have insomnia," says Elting. The pressure to look our best in order to be treated better has also seeped into other areas of women's lives in which we sometimes feel pressured to make ourselves up in situations where it isn't required such as running out to the supermarket.

So, how do women begin the process of overriding this bias? Based on personal experience, Elting believes that women must step up and be forceful. With sexism so rampant in workplace, respect for women is sometimes hard to come across and even harder to earn. "I was frequently assumed to be my co-founder's secretary or assistant instead of the person who owned the other half of the company. And even in business meetings where everyone knew that, I would still be asked to be the one to take notes or get coffee," she recalls. In effort to change this dynamic, Elting was left to claim her authority through self-assertion and powering over her peers when her contributions were being ignored. What she was then faced with was the alternate stereotype of the bitchy executive. She admits that teetering between the caregiver role or the bitch boss on a power trip is frustrating and offensive that these are the two options businesswomen are left with.

Despite the challenges that come with standing your ground, women need to reclaim their power for themselves and each other. "I decided early on that I wanted to focus on being respected rather than being liked. As a boss, as a CEO, and in my personal life, I stuck my feet in the ground, said what I wanted to say, and demanded what I needed – to hell with what people think," said Elting. In order for women to opt out of ridiculous beauty standards, we have to own all the negative responses that come with it and let it make us stronger– and we don't have to do it alone. For men who support our fight, much can be achieved by pushing back and policing themselves and each other when women are being disrespected. It isn't about chivalry, but respecting women's right to advocate for ourselves and take up space.

For Elting, her hope is to see makeup and grooming standards become an optional choice each individual makes rather than a rule imposed on us as a form of control. While she states she would never tell anyone to stop wearing makeup or dressing in a way that makes them feel confident, the slumping shoulders of a woman resigned to being belittled looks far worse than going without under-eye concealer. Her advice to women is, "If you want to navigate beauty culture as an entrepreneur, the best thing you can be is strong in the face of it. It's exactly the thing they don't want you to do. That means not being afraid to be a bossy, bitchy, abrasive, difficult woman – because that's what a leader is."