Think Twice About 401k Loans

401k’s are purposed for long-term retirement savings; for what comes after the working years. They are arguably our best means of influencing our financial futures – through diligent, faithful saving. Still, life happens. And what’s ideal doesn’t always copy and paste perfectly onto each of our own realities. Thus, there are sometimes¹ allowances that permit 401k participants to borrow dollars from their current accounts in the form of a loan. Though borrowing from a 401k is not the intended use of the account, we aren’t saying they’re always the worst option. What we are saying is that 401k loans are worth thinking twice about. And in my experience, there are a few points that consistently surprise people.

For example, do you know what would happen if you stopped working with a company while you had an outstanding 401k loan? In many cases, you’re left with two options:

  1. Pay back the loan in cash within approximately 60 days
  2. Default on the loan, and pay taxes and any applicable penalties on what’s owed

So, especially if you’re considering taking out a larger sum, it’s important to know the implications of what taking a loan means for both the short and the long term. See below for some more thoughts…


¹401k loans are not available through all 401k Plans, and the logistics of how they work and when they’re allowed can differ between Plans. With questions, call Human Investing at 503-905-3100 or email

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