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Paying Off Credit Card - New Years Resolution to Eliminate Credit Card Debts (Continued)
An estimated 11 million credit card users pay only the minimum required credit card amount. Under the new required minimum payments scheme, the average credit card holder with a balance of $9,000 will be forced to pay some $200.00 more a month. This
large increase comes at a time when most families are already being squeezed by skyrocketing energy costs and gasoline prices.
A large number of consumers will be unable to pay the additional hundreds of dollars more per month on their credit card bills and many will fall deeper in debt trouble. That's because often a payment received just one day late will trigger a hike in the cardholder's interest rate to as high as 29 percent plus a big late payment fee.
The alternative of a home equity loan is well known. But the 401(k) loan is also becoming popular because:
1. There's little paperwork, and there's no credit check.
2. The interest paid on a 401(k) loan is credited to the
401(k) account - so borrowers pay interest to themselves, not to a bank or other lender.
3. There are no taxes and penalties on early withdrawal as long as the loan is repaid on time according to the loan terms.
4. The Interest rate on many 401(k) loans is set at prime rate and is fixed for 5 years, the normal term of a 401(k) loan.
Employees should ask their employer to learn if their 401(k) plan allows loans. Independent contractors and individuals with their own business (part-time or full-time) can open their own Solo 401k plan with a loan feature.
It's possible to transfer funds from IRAs, 401k from a previous employer, SEP plan or other qualified retirement funds to a Solo 401(k) plan and borrow up to a maximum of $50,000 or 50% of the Solo 401(k) account balance, whichever is less.
Solo 401(k) plans with a loan feature first became available in 2002, as a result of changes to the tax law. A loan from a Solo 401(k) is easy to obtain because you are in effect borrowing from your retirement account, and you repay the loan payments, interest and principal, to your 401(k) account.
Make sure, however, to follow the 401(k) loan guidelines. A default on a 401(k) loan while not reported to the credit bureaus is reported to the IRS. You'll have to pay taxes and a possible
10 percent tax penalty on your outstanding 401(k) loan balance
if you don't follow the loan terms.
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