Don’t Forget Your 401(k) When You Leave Your Job! Here’s What You Can Do With It

A 401(k) plan is an awesome vehicle to save for retirement!  

You get to lower your tax basis (the income you get taxed on).  You might get a great company match… What’s not to like?

But what do you do with your 401(k) if you leave your job? 

Do you take the 401(k) with you?  Where do you put it?  Should you leave it?

You have some choices for your 401(k) which I’ll outline for you below:

Choices For Your 401(k) When You Leave Your Job

What to do with your 401(k) when you leave your job.

Leave the money in your prior employer’s 401(k) plan

Easy – What’s easier than doing nothing?  If you leave the money in your prior company’s plan then you don’t have to worry about paperwork or finding new funds to put the money into.

Continue to save tax-deferred – Your money still gets the benefit of growing tax-deferred in the old 401(k) plan.

Same investment choices – You may already be happy with the investments your 401(k) plan was in.  Moving the money may require you to find new funds which, in some cases, could cost you more in expenses.

Re-balancing options – Many 401(k) plans offer re-balancing options where the fund company will automatically re-balance your investments based on your instructions or alert you to re-balance once the investments grow a specified percentage from their original allocation.  An IRA plan may not offer this.

No cost to move between plan options – The 401(k) plan may not cost you anything to move money between the different investments offered in the plan.  With an IRA you may have to pay commissions.

Not good investment choices – Not all 401(k) plans are created equal.  Some only offer a few funds to choose among while others may have high fund expenses.

Less options for beneficiaries and withdrawals – The old 401(k) may limits on your future withdrawals and who you can designate as a beneficiary.

Plan can change – You old employer can decide to move their 401(k) to another company that doesn’t offer the same options or could cost you more in fund expenses (which means a lower overall return).

Related: FutureAdvisor Will Give You Suggestions On Your Portfolio to Help You Save on Fees

Roll the money to your new employer’s 401(k) plan

Continue to save tax-deferred – Just like leaving your money in your prior employer’s plan, your money can continue to grow tax-deferred in the new plan.  You also get to add money and possibly add employer matches.

Consolidate 401(k) accounts – You can keep all of your 401(k) accounts in one place, making them easier to manage.  Over time, a person may have 401(k)’s from a number of jobs so it can be nice to have all of that money consolidated in one place.

May have plan options you prefer – Your current employer may have a great plan with lots of investment options and very low fees.  Sometimes a large corporation will have funds in their 401(k) plan that have lower fees than are available if you tried to buy the same fund on your own.

Loan option may be available – You can’t take a loan against a 401(k) plan where you aren’t employed and you can’t take a loan against an IRA.  It may not be the best option to take a loan but you at least have the option with your current employer’s 401(k) plan.

Re-balance options may be available – You new employer’s plan may have options for automatic re-balancing of your portfolio and/or alerts when the allocations change.

Defer distributions if over 70 1/2 and still working – You may be able to hold off required distributions meaning you get to let the money to continue to grow tax-deferred until you need it.

Limited investment options – There may not be many option for your money.

High fund expenses – Some company plans have investment options with higher fees than if you invested on your own in an IRA.

Plan could change – The company could change their plan and you may end up with less investment choices or higher fund fees.  You can’t roll the money back out of the plan until you leave the company.

New company has no plan – Not all companies have 401(k) plans.  In this case you have no option to roll money into a new 401(k) plan.

Limited withdrawal and beneficiary options – Just like in an older company’s plan, there may be limitations on future withdrawals and who you can designate as a beneficiary.

Continues After Advertisement


Rollover your money to an IRA

choices 401k leave job

What choice would you pick for your 401(k) if you left your job?

Continued tax-deferred savings – You still get to earn tax-deferred savings until you take the money out.

Keep accounts together – If you have 401(k)’s from previous employers, as well your own IRA, you may want to roll everything into one IRA so you can better manage your money.  With everything in one account it is much easier to pay attention to asset allocation and you re-balance all of the money one time.

More investment choices – When you put the money into a Rollover IRA you get to choose the fund company meaning you can choose which company has the most choices for you.  Most IRA custodians offer way more investment choices than a 401(k) does.  In fact, with a brokerage account linked to your IRA you can have thousands of places to put your money.

Better asset allocation – With more investment choices you also get more options for asset allocation.  Sometimes there isn’t much diversity in the choices in a 401(k).  You can fix this when you put your money in a rollover IRA.

More choices for timing – When the money is in a rollover IRA, rather than a 401(k), you can pretty much add to the account and move money between funds whenever you want (when the market is open to trade that is).  With a 401(k) you pretty much add to the account when you are paid and some plans have limitations on how many moves you can make with your money.  A rollover IRA allows you more freedom.

Penalty-free withdrawal for education and first-time homebuying –  A rollover IRA may allow you the option to take money out, penalty free, for education expenses as well as for a first-time home purchase ($10,000 limit).  You still pay income taxes but this is a nice option you don’t have with a 401(k).

Can’t take a loan – I wouldn’t say this is a great option anyway, but there may be times when it’s necessary.  A rollover IRA doesn’t have the option to take out a loan while a 401(k) may.

Your 401(k) may be in old company’s stock – If part of your 401(k) is in your prior employer’s stock then there are special considerations to take into account regarding taxes and Net Unrealized Appreciation.  Check out this article on MarketWatch for more information on moving company stocks in a 401(k) to an IRA.

May not have same investment choices as 401(k) – Even though you may have a ton of choices in a rollover IRA you may not have the exact same choices as you did in your 401(k).  Or if you do have the options there may be high commissions on the trades.  If you like the options in your 401(k) then it could be less expensive to keep your money there rather then buy the same investments in a rollover IRA.

Commission costs – Many times, you can move money between investments in a 401(k) without and fees or commissions.  In a rollover IRA, depending on the plan, you may have to pay commissions when you move money between investments.

Too many choices – Thousands of options sounds great until you have to pick out a few of them.  Then the options are overwhelming.  More options means more research and work.  For some, too many choices can lead to paralysis analysis.

Cash out the 401(k)

You get cash. Now! – You get access to the money in your 401(k) to do with as you please.  This could come in handy of you have some severe debt to take care of.

Early withdrawal penalty – If you are under 59 1/2 then you will be subject to a 10% early withdrawal penalty.  Right off the bat you lose 10% of your money.

Taxes – On top of an early withdrawal penalty, you will also get hit with a 20% tax hit which could even turn our to be more when you file your taxes.

Loss of earning power – You lose out on the opportunity cost of what that money could have earned had you left it to grow tax-deferred until retirement.

Small amounts add up – Your 401(k)’s from various jobs may not add up to much individually, but together, and over time, the money can add up to a tidy sum.  When you cash out your 401(k) every time you switch jobs you miss out on building wealth.

So what should you do with your 401(k) if you leave your job?

Personally, I like to have control of my money and have the option to change the investments as I like.  I recently moved money from my prior job to a rollover IRA and the process was pretty easy overall.  I was fortunate that my old job had a good plan and I was able to nearly duplicate the funds in my rollover IRA.

Still, you need to look at what works best for you. 

I think there are a lot of easy options to invest with in a rollover IRA if you aren’t investing savvy, but for some people it might be less worrisome to leave their money in their 401(k).

In my opinion cashing out is the least desirable option.  Getting a nice lump sum seems nice but you take a big penalty and tax hit and then lose out on future earnings.

Seriously consider the consequences of cashing your 401(k) out.

Some places to open a rollover IRA

Most investment firms these days have options for opening up a rollover IRA.  If you are considering opening up a rollover IRA look at the investment options, fund fees, custodian fees, and commissions.  (Here are some things to consider if you’re opening up a brokerage account).

Some popular places to open up a rollover IRA are Vanguard, FidelityCharles Schwab, and many other discount brokerages.

Check those 401(k) fees

If you want an x-ray into the fund fees in your 401(k) check out either Personal Capital or FutureAdvisor. Both can analyze your fund fees so you can see if your funds are costing you too much.

A few other options for your 401(k)

You may be able to rollover a 401(k) to the following places as well as those described above: Roth IRA, SEP-IRA, 457(b), 403(b), profit-sharing plan.

What do you think are the best options for a 401(k) at a prior employer?

Don't Forget Your 401(k) When You Leave Your Job! Here's What You Can Do With It
Article Name
Don't Forget Your 401(k) When You Leave Your Job! Here's What You Can Do With It
A 401(k) is a great retirement tool. But what do you do with it if you leave your job? Here are the pros and cons of some popular options for your 401(k).
Free Newsletter to Keep you Free From Broke!Name: Email: We respect your email privacyPowered by AWeber email marketing
Published or updated November 23, 2014.


  1. I cashed out my 401k when I left my previous employer. These qualified retirement plans have too many strings attached and only really benefit one party: the government.

    I now use my money to create my own personal bank use the infinite banking concept. Here, I have control over my money and Uncle Sam has little say.

    • How does this infinite banking concept work?

      When you cash out you are giving uncle sam a nice bonus on your money. Hopefully you can make it work for you to make up the lost taxes and early withdrawal penalty.

      • Not sure if this column is still in working but I’ll take a shot.
        I have to agree with the man who said these 401K’s are a crock and only make the Uncle Sam rich.
        What a total crock they are.
        My husband worked for 38 years at UTC, contributed weekly to this plan.
        He decided to retire this year at 62.
        We were going to head South and live an easy life, so we thought.
        Now we find out that closing out his 401K is costing us big bucks!
        20% to the Government right off the top,,,,,
        Had we known this 38 years ago we never would have signed up for this screw job….
        Its a lesson leaned for sure.
        Any your person I see I will tell them forget 401K’s invest on your own!

  2. I’ve always been wondering about how to do this. I currently have a 401k with my employer (i’m not planning on leaving any time soon) but I also was enrolled in a retirement plan at a job I had in college (working for a city government).
    It was more of a defined benefit style plan, and once you were no longer a city employee, contributing to the plan didnt really make much sense. I cashed out and paid the tax. Looking back, though, I’m not sure I would have done different. I used the money to pay down some debt, and it worked. Thankfully, I didnt take that much of a hit on the future or pay a big tax, because I was 20.

    • Glen Craig says:

      Depending on your situation cashing out can help you when you have debt to pay. Still, because you were young when you had the plan, you had a lot of time to let that grow until retirement. It’s up to you to figure out the choice that is most beneficial.

      I think many young people make the mistake of cashing out though, without looking at the long term.

  3. Dr Dean says:

    Great review.
    I agree with what you did. Your post prompted a question I have asked my tax adviser: “Can you make a Roth out of a rollover IRA?”

    With tax rates shooting up next year by all pundits accounts- I am transferring my IRA into Roth’s this year.

    • Glen Craig says:

      Thanks. I believe you can make a Roth out of a rollover IRA but there will most likely be tax consequences. Same holds true of a 401(k) to a Roth. Your tax adviser would be best suited to tell you the tax ramifications and whether it is worth it to transfer.

  4. But quickly, we use whole life insurance policies to create our own personal bank. We finance purchases ourselves. We borrow money from our policies and repay into our bank principal and interest. We end up regaining the principal, the interest we would have paid to a bank otherwise, and more.

    The key here is the strategy and not the product being used. A special type of whole life insurance policy makes this process most efficient.

    Uncle Sam did get a nice bonus when I cashed out but only 10%. After doing my research about these plans, I just consider it an education expense.

    • I am wondering how you were able to cash out your 401k into a “Bank On Yourself” type system. If I understand your statement correctly, you only paid a 10% penalty all said and done. I am ready to go to a new employer and would love to know how you accomplished this with such little penalty.

      • Latte,

        Not sure if you responded to me or not but no..I am going to be hit by taxes as well as the 10% penalty. the money went in pre-tax so eventaully I am going to have to pay taxes on it anyway. The way I look at it it’s the 10% penalty I need to make up and I think with leveraged purchase of the houses, the low interest rates and the depressed prices at this time, I’ll more than make up for that “penalty” money as the housing prices come back. The other thing I didn’t mention in my initial post, is the fact that If I make 300-400 in positivie cash flow on 3 houses per month thats around 12,000 a year (give or take) $180,000 over 15 years (give or take) that I would be making in lieu of it sitting in or transferrring to another 401k. Basically I have 3 houses paid off in 15 years (by someone else) $550-$600,000 in assets (3 houses) $180,000 in earned rent (mentioned above) and now I have a $3000 (approx.) a month “pension”. or I leave the money where it’s at and hope it grows to an amount that I can draw 5% from. dilema dilema

  5. I am a big fan of getting out of the old 401(k) and into something without the big fees. Once you can’t get a match anymore, there is no reason to stay so limited.

    When I leave my current job, I will probably move it into a Roth IRA because my horizon is so long. If I had less than 15 years, I would probably move it into a traditional IRA.

    • Glen Craig says:

      You have to look at the plan as each are different. Not all 401(k)’s have big fees. But yeah, you usually have more choice on your own in an IRA.

  6. MAX MCGRATH says:


    • Do you remember who handled the 401(k) account (what company administered it)? You could try contacting them.

      You can also contact the human resources department of your previous employer. They should be able to help you.

  7. I had a 401K from a previous employer. I never did anything with it, and just decided to keep it where it is. Can I withdraw that or part of it to buy a house, and avoid the penalties and taxes? Also, I’m not a 1st time home buyer.

    • Hi Sue, keep in mind I’m not a tax professional, but I think if you take the money out of your 401(k) before retirement age then you will be hit with steep tax penalties.

      The rules are different in an IRA. To start, a first-time homebuyer is one who hasn’t owned a primary residence the past two years (in other words you can have owned a home previously). You are allowed to withdraw up to $10,000 for this first home without IRA early withdrawal penalties (I still believe you will pay income taxes though).

      For a Roth, you can take out contributions any time. For earnings you are allowed the same $10,000 but you need to have the account open for 5 years to avoid early withdrawal penalties.

  8. I had worked for Kroger about 3 years before I quit. I have been at my previous job now for 10 years, but would like to get my 401 K plan from Kroger and role it over to where I work now, but not sure how to get the 401 K plan from kroger. It was 13 years ago.

    • Hi Ava,
      You should be able to contact the HR department at Kroger and give them your information to find your 401(k) in their company. They can tell you how to go about getting your money out of their 401(k) and possibly even help you to roll it over.
      Look up Kroger online and you should be able to get some phone numbers to start with.

      • Hi my name is Eak I quit my job about two weeks ago. How long do my old employer’s have to turn in my separation date which is my last day of work to the 401k company

  9. chelsea says:

    I worked at a hospital for nine months and have less than 800 dollars in my 401 (k) from there. I have to enroll in the state retirement plan where I live and work now and they do not accept out of state transfers. What should I do with that money in the 401 (k) where I used to work?
    If I “leave it” do I have to pay anything in to it? Or does it just “sit there” and accumulate? Should I cash it out? Should I “roll it over”? I do not understand my options and the technical financial wording is so confusing.

    • Hi Chelsea, you should be able to roll it over into a Rollover IRA (basically a traditional IRA that i started with rollover funds) at an online brokerage like Fidelity, Vanguard, or ShareBuilder, to name a few. This way you have more control and more options than you would just letting it sit there.

      Even though I had a good plan at a previous employer, I rolled my 401(k) over to a Fidelity account.

  10. I lost my job and I need to withdrawal my 401k early for about 10k. I already have 2 loans against it. I have 3 children 1 being disabled and need to catch up on bills.what are the penalties and if I usually receive about 4500 for my tax refund, will early withdrawal interfere with my refund.

  11. Hi all,

    I’ve been mulling the idea of closing out my wife’s and my 401ks from previous employers and purchasing 2-3 bank owned homes. after the 20% IRS hit and 10% cash out penalty it would leave us with about 150k. In our neck of the woods there are plenty of 3 bedroom 2 bath homes in the 100k range that were selling a few years ago for 200-250k plus. Rents are going for about 900-1100/month depending on the town in which the house is. Here is my rationale: If I keep the money where it’s at or transfer to current employers etc. it will grow (maybe) and I won’t be taxed. Let’s say it gets to 750,000 in 15 years (probably not but maybe) then I start to pull out and get taxed on it (who knows what taxes will be then??) and I pull out 5% a year. (basically 37,500/year). Or…If I cash out now I take the 150k buy 3 (100k houses (I finance the rest)) that in 15 years will certainly be paid off and worth maybe 175k each???conservatively. I put 50% down on each house and carry a mortgage on the other 50k for each house which the renter will certainly cover. So in 15 years… I will have made what I got from the renter (less the outstanding mortgage) probably 400 per house or 1200 per month (14,000/year in income (210k over the 15 years)) and in 15 years I’ll own out right 3 homes worth 175 to 200k a piece or more. Rent will probably average 1200/month each house. so (43,200/yr in income). I’ll have approx 600k in assets (if not more/maybe less but doubtful) and 40k plus a year in rental income…all because I decided to cash out my 401k’s, take the hit now and take advantage of the lowest housing prices and lowest interest rates we probably ever will see. By the way we currently max out our 401k’s at our new employers so I beleive in the markets and the 401k idea…just wondering if my thinking (about cashing out the old 401k’s) is flawed.

    Any thoughts on this? Am I crazy? I think the numbers are somewhat realistic and conservative. Thanks for anyone’s input.


  12. I’m with Justin on this one.
    What are we missing or how do we get started.


  13. Latte,

    I see that I responded back to your comments the wrong way. I did include the fact that I would be receiving the advantage of monthly positive cash flow on the properties in my first post.


  14. I have had a 401k with an old employer for about 10 yrs. My question is….does that money have a possibility of gaining interest over all these years?

    • Glen Craig says:

      It depends on what that 401(k) was invested in. Some investments didn’t do so well over the last decade while others soared. So just as there is a possibility it has grown (not necessarily earned interest – that depends on what you are invested in), there’s also the possibility it’s lost money.

      You should be able to look up the account or contact the HR dept at the employer to find out how you can gain access and see how it’s doing.

  15. I have resigned my parttme position and now work on an “as needed basis”at the same company. My 401 k cannot be added to by me. Nor am I allowed to cash it in. Is this true?

    Thanks, Anne

  16. Very nice article Glenn. One of the best, most concise comparisons of the 401(k) choices available to folks when leaving their employer that I’ve seen.

  17. Kathy Black says:

    I am 54 and losing my job. I have over $600K in my employer’s 401k. Is there any vehicle that I can move this money to and have access to it without too much penalty? I don’t want to think about my finances getting so bad that I meet the hardship rules 🙁 I understand about the 10% penalty. If I take possession of the money, is the entire sum considered as income for that year? From what I hear the wealthy have a lower tax bracket, maybe that’s not a bad thing?

    One financial adviser told me I could take a monthly payment from the money rolled into some type of IRA, but once those payments started there was not a way to stop them (if I got another job) or change the amount. Is this true? Any advice about what to do at age 54 would be appreciated.

    • When I left a big box retail Job I cashed out my 401k which was not very much at all 1300 bucka and was going to open up a cd account but ended up not doing that because it was too complicated and ended up ok, meaning with the irs didn’t come after me for it , but your amount I don’t they probably would

  18. Why is there a 10% penalty on an early withdrawal ? It’s your money . If you want to take it out, pay tax and put in a roth, pay a credit card down, buy a car, why should government regulation penalize you? There’s always complaints about a “nanny state” yet I expect the financial industry would vigorously fight to keep this 10% penalty.

    • Glen Craig says:

      I think it’s to create an incentive to save for retirement. If we only had to pay the regular taxes owed then it would be too easy for people to take the money out and use it. With the extra 10% penalty the money has less value, giving you a reason to keep it there in retirement.

      In a similar vein to your question, I wouldn’t mind seeing 401k’s changed so you could transfer the money to an IRA while you are still at the same job. Why should you have to switch jobs to have control over your retirement money?

      • Employers like control of their employee accounts. There are probably big perks to leadership for the business. Many Americans would used some of theirretirement accounts used to pay down debt had they been able to withdraw penalty free. The economy would be in better shape. American retirements are in shambles since the advent ofvthe 401k and all the risks and much higher fees were handed to the employees. Defined pension plans, even scaled back ones would be better for he majority of retires. I’d bet that the percentage of Americans who will count solely on their SS check to survive has risen since the inception of the 401k.

  19. Frank Castle says:

    Once a company STOPS their contribution to an EMPLYOEE’S 401K and also STOPS giving yearly PAY FOR MERIT AND OR COST OF LIVING INCREASES, BONUSES ETC. is it time to STOP with my own contribution? The sad part is , I like my job, I just don’t like (in my opinion) how the company is being managed. With that said, we have had two people leave and they were not replaced. This is a small firm, 10 employees including the owner. My workload has tripled, the ATTRITION THEORY is at work. I would like to CASH OUT my 401K & become debt free. Whatever I have left would be invested in stocks with the goal of making up what UNCLE TOOK FROM ME. My thinking is when you do the math regarding interest rates on credit cards, car loans, student loans, etc. minus the DOUBLE DIP LOSS FOR EARLY CASH OUT OF THE 401K, then adding in future % gains from solid investments, you would come out ahead with your future still intact & YOUR MONEY WHERE YOU WANT IT, DOING WHAT YOU WANT IT TO DO. What do you think? Your comments would be appreciated. ‘)

    • Frank you hit on two issues in my opinion:

      1. While you like your job, perhaps this is not the firm for your future, obviously only you can make that assessment.
      2. If you stay with your current employer and really want to take the money out of the 401(k) you would either need to do a hardship withdrawal (if you qualify) or an in-service withdrawal. The latter must be allowed by the plan, these are typically plan-specific. You would need to look in the plan documents. Either of these options would be very expensive to you in terms of the income taxes you would trigger and the 10% penalty (assuming you are under 59 1/2). You might also be able to take a loan out if your plan allows, be careful here because if you leave the company this could trigger the taxes and penalties if the loan has not been repaid.

      While I understand your frustrations with the plan and your desire to pay off your debts, I suggest you think very hard before doing a withdrawal.

  20. Hi I was wondering if you could give me some advice. I’m 22 and I have a 401(k) plan with an employer but I no longer have benefits and can’t contribute. I have 7,000 in it what is my best option thank you for your help

    • Glen Craig says:

      Hi Carlos, I think the comment answer from Roger above should help in your case.

      Basically, if you are still working there then you can’t get the money without penalties. But I don’t know how much of that money is what you put in vs what your employer may have matched as well as what your vesting requirements are (some companies require you to be with the company a certain amount of time before you can have their match).

      If you are looking for somewhere else to invest for your retirement then consider an IRA option. Another thing to consider is the company itself. Is it a place you really like working at or are there options out there you could look into? That’s for you to answer but it is something to consider.

  21. I had a 401k when I worked at a hospital. It only has like $300.00 in it. I don’t work there now and they transferred the money to some bank in a different state. Is it that big of a deal to pay a penalty and taxes on such a small amount of money if I cash it out?

    • Glen Craig says:

      So long as you have all of the paperwork for your taxes it shouldn’t be that big of a deal.

      But is it really worth it for such a small amount? Why not transfer it to an IRA where you can let it sit and grow? You’ll also have an account where you can add more, within limits, as time goes on.

      • Hi Glen, thank you so much for all this info, I’m also moving to a new company and only have about 4K, in the past I cashed out the money and it was a huge mistake.. this time I’m planning to open an IRA but I am not sure what account you are talking about in the case above if the person is leaving his work, he wont get any more match from the employer?How does it work? to open the IRA can I open it from my bank(don’t like that too much :-D) thanks!

  22. OK I have 401K Total Investment Balance $46,992.71 . I took two loans from it. My two loans combined are $11,540.99 I owe. Im going to get laid off pretty soon. I have 90 days to pay off the loan. What happens if I dont pay my balance. How much will I pay in taxes?

    • Yes. I would like to know as well….

      As for me, I left my job for a new one mid March 2014. I had to take a loan out few months before for emergency; so I had a balance of almost 5gz to pay off within 90 days. What happens if I couldn’t pay it off before then? I never pulled my contributions out, and decided to leave it there – since I can’t transfer it into my new jobs 401k because it hasn’t been a year.

      What will be my penalties? What can I do to pay it off now? What’s going to happen during taxes? Or how much might I have to pay back?

    • Generally, if you don’t pay off your loan within the 90 days (varies by plan), your plan will make a forced withdrawal (subject to tax and penalty) to cover the loan. Your 401k balance will just be reduced by that amount and you will be receive a tax notice at the end of the year. You are responsible for the tax on the withdrawal. See your original loan paperwork or contact your plan for clarification.

  23. I am 24 and have around $8,000 in my old employers 401k, I am currently unemployed. What would a good option be in my situation? My wife and I also want to buy a home while the market is low so that is also a consideration.

  24. Tim Norton says:

    I just left a company that I had been with for a little under a year. The 5K sign on bonus had to be repaid. When they initially paid it to me, 2K went into my 401K. They just requested that I send them a check for about $1600. I just did. Then I looked at my 401K and they took about $2500 out of there. I’m not happy considering tax implications and that they didn’t notify me that this was going to happen. Do I have any recourse? They raided my 401K!!!! Help

    • If you have less than (I believe) $5,000 in your account they can cash you out. However taking the $2,400 and not allowing you the opportunity to pay them another way doesn’t sound right to me. I’m not an attorney but I would contact HR at the company and if that doesn’t work I’d call the Department of Labor (who oversees ERISA).

  25. ROXIEB HOOPER says:

    I had 401 k with 2 prev employers and I never received paperwork on how to cash it in… How do I see if I have 401k funds out there for me?

    • Glen Craig says:

      Put a call in to their HR departments. Also do you happen to know what brokerage handled the plans? You may be able to contact the brokerage as well.

  26. Ruben Rodriguez says:

    Hello , I have a question, I recently left my job In June 2013. I am pretty sure vesting is after three years, I fell short by 5 months. November 8th 2013 would have been three years. Now , I left my 401k funds there’s and as of now it has my and the company contributions there still. Are they gonna take that back or come November 8th it becomes vested? Thanks

  27. My current 401(k) holdings are all in a Vanguard institutional US total market fund with 0.04% ER, and a stable value fund with 0.5% ER. Until the current interest rates come back in line after the FED’s easing, I’d be inclined to just leave my money in the 401(k). Besides, I plan to keep working for another 9 years for my current company. We shall see where interest rates are then. If they have sufficiently recovered to their pre-recession levels by then, I will probably roll the money into an IRA.

    • Glen Craig says:

      Well, if you’re still at your employer then you don’t have much choice but to leave it there. A whole lot can happen a decade from now including having a new plan where you work. I’m partial to rolling a 401(k) into an IRA so you can control the money after you leave a job.

  28. An excellent blog post. Even a novice on 401(K) can understand this. I thoroughly liked the way pros, cons and other important aspects about it like moving it in another account are written It will definitely help me in taking the right decision as I’m currently is in the process of relocation and company change. Moving 401(K) to new company’s one seems most feasible and convenient for me. Thanks for this blog that gave me a comparative study.

  29. Hi…I had a 403b from an old job but now I am back in school so I was wondering what I should do. Someone suggested moving the 403b money into a ROTH because I am in a low tax bracket now that I am a student (and will be in a high bracket once I finish my PhD and get a job). Does this make sense or should I just leave the 403b as it is?

    Also, if I leave the money in the 403b can I make withdrawals to pay tuition?

  30. Hey Glen Craig,

    Thanks for the post, super helpful. I’m hoping you can answer a lingering question I have. I have a 403b with a previous employer. I’d like to continue contributing to that account. Is that possible, or would I have to rollover into some type of new IRA?

  31. Hi! I’m wondering if you could give me some advice. I had been laid off from my job which I used to have a 401k and have a loan in it which I’m still paying monthly. However, my current job does not offer 401k. I don’t want to cash it out from my previous employer and I need to decide before they send me the check. I have some brokers offering me to rollover it to WFG (World Financial Group, Voya) which I am not familiar with. I am still shopping where to roll it over and how. I am 54, married without kids. I also heard that investing on a life insurance will cost me no taxes. I am confused. I don’t know if I can stay with the current 401k provider/plan. If I rollover, I don’t know where and how as they only give me 30 days before they send me the check. Thank you so much:)

  32. Hi! I’m wondering if you could help me decide. I had been laid off from my job which I have my 401 k and have a loan in it which I’m still paying monthly. However, my current job does not offer it. I don’t want to cash it out from my previous employer and I need to decide before they send me the check. I have some brokers offering me to rollover it to WFG (World Financial Group, Voya) which I am not familiar with. I am still shopping where to roll it over and how. I am 54, married without kids. I also heard that investing on a life insurance will cost me no taxes. I am confused. I don’t know if I can stay with the current 401 k provider/plan. If I rollover, I don’t know where and how as they only give me 30 days before they send me the check. Thank you so much:)

  33. Hi ….I’m leaving my job after 21 years to a new job… my old job I have 60,000 in my 401k……I’m thinking about rolling it over with td Ameritrade …..which Ira is best for a single female 47 years old

  34. I previously left my job 5 years ago. My 401k balance was suppose to be moved over to IRA but it was not and the balance is still sitting in my former employer balance. I will need to receive that money but dont know the proper way to transfer that to me without getting taxed or penalty or what have you. I am currently employed now and will be setting up my new 401k plan with my company. any suggestions or helpful hints.

  35. Hello.
    I currently have a 401k plan and im planning to cash it out. I have invested less than $1000 myself . if I cash it out I know i have to pay 10% penalty which is 100 dollars but what percentage of taxes would i be paying? Are those taxes payed/subtracted when I file my income taxes? Also do I get my employers match money or just my own investment($1000)? And how long does it take to get my money? Thanks.

  36. Jennifer says:

    I’m a little lost with this whole process and not sure what to do –

    I’m 26, and worked for a company that had a 401k plan with Fidelity for 5 years. I recently left the company and got a new job. This new job, however, does not have a 401k plan because I’m not full time. I’ve been here for about 4 months and my old 401k plan has just been sitting there. I was thinking about taking some cash out (I’d rather not, but because my hours have been cut, I’m really needing the extra cash), and rolling the rest over to an IRA. I have no clue about IRA’s or whether or not this is a good idea. Any advice? Thanks!

  37. I have about $4k in a state govt 401k. I will be lasting soon for another position. New employer does not have 401k yet. What advice would you give me about the funds? I am not 59.

  38. Hi,
    My wife several years ago started a 401k with her employer who since went out of business. She had accumulated about 11k at the time. She has since moved on and been employed with other companies. Lately out of curiosity we decided to explore moving the money into a Roth IRA and went through the processes to look up old passwords etc. After gaining access to the account we were shocked to see the balance down to 4k. They have been taking out fees of approximately $150 a month for years! My 401k has almost no fees at all. How can this be legal?! Have you heard of anything like this? We will be moving her money, which has been sitting a cash account. Can we recover the fees since there has been no management of this account?

  39. George Mansfield says:

    I recently left my job and wanted to take a withdrawal from my 401k to survive until I land a new job. To my shock Merrill lynch told me my previous employer setup a 90 day hold on withdrawing my funds. Is this even legal? How can I circumvent this ridiculousness?

  40. I have a 401k Vanguard with my employer. I’m leaving the firm in 6 months and can’t wait to move my Vanguard to a financial person I have that handles another 401k account for me. Vanguard 401ks offer terrible investment options. I have a nice substantial amount saved but make no returns. The only money I’m making is what I put in. I did an online survey with Vanguard. Took about 20 minutes. Then I did a web meeting with one of their brokers. After I completed the survey it gave me suggestions where I should be investing. The broker told me opposite. My suggestion if you want a nice nest egg for retirement stay away from Vanguard.

  41. Hello.. I started a new job a few months ago and they being bought out by a different company so they will have their own 401k plan different from mine, but I won’t qualify for it for 3 months. I want to pull out the money and put into my etrade account to invest in stocks it’s not much money in my 401k its around 1600.00 would I be penalized for that even though I am using it for investing in stocks or does it have to go into an IRA. It’s my first 401k so I really don’t know. I would really appreciate a response thank you.

  42. Do you need a loan to finance your business or for personal purpose Minimum Amount Of 5,000.00 to A Maximum of 500,000,000.00 in the currency type of USD,EURO,POUNDS if yes? email us on this email: ( for more info


  43. joao victor says:

    hi, im 54 and layd off after 31 year, i have over 400k in 401k, company will not allow me to move nay partial, only if i close the account and move to another financial company, at this time i need to have a monthly income to help pay the bills, what can i do withluth paying a penalty or tons of taxes.

  44. Inester Ohlin says:

    Do you need a loan investor email

What Do You Think?