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Some retirement plans
will allow you to take a loan from your 401(k). If you're dealing with multiple high-interest accounts, it could help to borrow enough to pay those accounts off, if you can get a lower interest rate. The payments would be automatically deducted from your paycheck. Contributions are usually suspended until the loan is repaid (including matching contributions). The provisions of the loan usually let a person repay it early, if he is able.
Otherwise, IRS regulations allow an employer to provide a mechanism for making hardship withdrawals from the account. You would have to pay a 20% penalty, and pay taxes on any amounts withdrawn as income. Also, an employer is not required to allow a hardship withdrawal and, if they do, they can specify which circumstances it's allowed to be taken. Generally, a hardship withdrawal must be to meet an immediate and heavy financial need. Here is more information:http://www.irs.gov/Retirement-Plans/Retirement-Plans-FAQs-regarding-Hardship-Distributions#1
Call the HR Department to see if your specific plan allows any other sort of hardship withdrawals. If not, you may want to look into whether a loan would benefit you, and what type of interest and terms the could give you. That's the best place to start.
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