Tapping into retirement funds: When it's worth it

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More and more Americans are mortgaging their future by tapping into retirement today. A Hewitt Associates' survey found that 6.2% of retirement account participants at large corporations had taken an early withdrawal as of September 30, compared with 5.1% who reported taking early withdrawals in 2006.

I should know. I raided the principle from my Roth IRA to remodel a bathroom and kitchen so we can stay in our house. It would have been nice to pay cash for the remodel but we just don't have that kind of money sitting around. We could also take a loan, but hate to have more debt.

We did not take this decision lightly. We first planned to move instead of dumping money into this house. But we looked and priced in several communities and did not find anything as nice as we have for much less than $1 million. And believe me, we sure didn't pay that much for this house two decades ago. More like $82,000. It is an old, well built house with a view of Lake Michigan. As they say, they just don't make them like this anymore.

We can take this money, make the improvements and live here very cheaply. I look at it as an investment in our comfortable retirement. And, we get to enjoy the improvements now.

Everyone's circumstances are different. But sometimes it makes sense to enjoy some of the fruits of your hard work.

Barbara Bartlein is the People Pro. For her FREE E-mail newsletter, please visit: The People Pro

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