April 26, 2011
Nearly one-fifth of full-time employed Americans have raided retirement accounts in the past year to cover emergencies, according to a national Bankrate survey.
Despite increasing signs of a stabilizing U.S. economy, 19 percent of Americans — including 17 percent of full-time workers — have been compelled to take money from their retirement savings in the last year to cover urgent financial needs, the Financial Security Index found.
Though 80 percent of full-time workers didn’t dip into retirement funds, far too many consumers are ill-prepared for emergencies, says Kim McGrigg, manager of community and media relations at Money Management International, a credit counseling agency.
“Perhaps the most alarming thing about these numbers is that they suggest a lack of other options,” she says. “Consumers generally consider using retirement funds only as a last resort.”
Michael Masiello, founder of the Masiello & Associates wealth management firm in Rochester, N.Y., agrees. “I believe that 17 percent of full-time workers taking early withdrawals is a higher than normal number, and it’s certainly higher than it should be,” he says.