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We know not to take money early from a tax-deferred retirement account. So why do we do it?

MarketWatch photo illustration/iStockphoto

Once you earn money, it’s normal to want to spend it. There’s nothing wrong with that, unless it sits in a tax-advantaged account.

Most employees who participate in a 401(k) or another defined contribution plan want to build a nest egg. They allocate a portion of every paycheck to it and leave it alone. If their employer matches their contribution, even better.