Tuesday, May 19, 2009

401k vs. Credit Cards: Which would you keep?

In my unemployed state i have made what appears to be a controversial decision.

After my last day, i cashed out my retirement account. Then i promptly called the credit card companies i have owed money to for years, gave them the money they wanted, and told them to scram.

I told this to a friend and he exclaimed "how could you do that?" with plenty of disgust. Does he have some secret ownership in Chase Bank?

I don't know, because to me it seemed like kind of a no-brainer. I have been in the vicious cycle of paying minimum payments for so long, there was no way i was going to see my way out of it without seriously sacrificing my lifestyle. Like eating ramen for the next six years and selling the car. So what could i do?

My thought is, i want to buy a house sometime soon (unemployment or not). Those longstanding balances with their 20+ percent interest were not going to do anything but continue to destroy my credit score and cost me much more than the 401k was even worth.

So what's so controversial about this decision? I am debt-free (besides the student loans, of course...) and my credit has been instantly improved, thereby increasing my chance of investing in real estate in the near future. So will i be cursing myself for squandering that few thousand, when i am 65? Doubt it.


Graphics Guy said...

I'm sure you know that it's the compound interest is what you lose out on when you're 65. The thousands you just used to pay off the credit cards could have been tens of thousands in the 30 years when you retire.That is provided the market resumes a nice steady slow growth rate sometime in the future.

The trick now is to not use the credit cards anymore. Do you have an emergency fund? If you don't, those credit cards are most likely going to be used again next time your car needs work or you need to go to the hospital.


Nicole Vulcan said...

that is the trick. i definitely won't fall into that trap anymore. and considering the high rate of credit card interest versus the slow rate of growth in the current market, i am still sticking by my decision.

Graphics Guy said...

To that I say wholeheartedly, good luck. This economy throws some serious curveballs.