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According to a recent study, over 25 percent of U.S. workers with a 401(k) will access their plan savings before they retire.

The study analyzed consumer finance data from the Federal Reserve and the U.S. census bureau. Among the study’s findings:

  • One out of four participants in 401(k) retirement programs will either cash-out their savings before retirement — incurring substantial penalties and taxes — or forfeit them to loans.
  • 26 percent of 401(k) participants now use their 401(k) savings for non-retirement needs.
  • 75 percent report that they breached their savings because of basic money management problems.
  • Workers now withdraw or breach over $70 billion annually out of their 401(k)s for non-retirement needs.
  • Penalized withdrawals increased from $36 billion to about $60 billion between 2004 and 2010.
  • Workers in their 40s are most likely to breach their savings for non-retirement needs.

Source: HelloWallet