Retiring Before 59.5 – What About Penalties?

Ever wonder how you can access your retirement accounts without paying the 10% penalty? In this video we share our plan for avoiding IRA and 401k penalties by setting up a Roth Conversion Ladder.

Credit is due to the MadFientist who introduced us to the idea. Basically you rollover your old 401k into a traditional IRA, then convert that to a Roth IRA. The converted funds are considered ?income? and therefore ?contributions? so you may withdraw them at any time (after 5 years has passed) without tax or penalty.

More information can be found on his website:

Interestingly, President Obama’s 2016 budget proposal might close that loophole despite the IRS just putting out notice 2014-54 which seemed to confirm this is a viable and lawful strategy.

Link to the IRS Notice 2014-54:

4 thoughts on “Retiring Before 59.5 – What About Penalties?

  1. Janet

    Love this video! Great job. I had asked you this question a month ago–great video šŸ™‚ I had to watch it a couple of times to catch all the info.

  2. Gabe

    Just want to start off by saying this is by far my favorite YouTube channel and that you guys are awesome!
    I may or may not have bindge watched everysingle one of your videos in the past 5 days…. Ok I did but and it inspired me as a 17 year old high school student to start digging in the idea of early retirement and investing. Which has led to an extreme lack of sleep but worth every minute spent reading about this stuff. Which that being said I still have a few important questions that I was hoping you could answer/clear up for me…
    1)as a 17 year old (almost 18)working part time at Panera I don’t have a 401k but had planned on putting $1000 in a Roth IRA when I turn 18 but if I want to retire early I wouldn’t be able to pull that money out till 59-1/2. But then I watched this video…and from what I understand you’re saying that I should also start a traditional IRA and then right before I retired, transfer it to the Roth IRA I already have set up? Or should I just have a traditional one and before I retire(early “retire”)transfer it to a Roth?
    2) also just a clearification…if I want to retire early (be finacually independent) the ways I should prepare are the iras, real estate, and just plain old savings….?
    And is there one that I should put more money into than the other or do you have any other suggestions for someone my age?

    I’m sorry for my lack of knowledge I’m still trying to wrap my head around all this.
    Also I don’t even know if I’m supposed to post such long comments and if there’s some type of comment rules that I just broke lol but anyways you guys are Amazing and I’ve leanred so much so thanks a ton and please keep the videos coming!!!

    1. Mike And Lauren Post author

      Hey Gabe!

      So awesome to hear that you’re interested in all this stuff at 17! You have a bright future ahead of you. Before I answer any questions you need to understand that I’m not qualified to tell you what to do. I have no licenses or degrees. Everything from here on out is just what I would do if I were you.

      Ok, first of all I would start reading a few other books and blogs to help you understand some of these concepts. I would definitely start with Jim Collins stock series to make sure you understand how the stock market works.

      Then read this post my Mr. Money Mustache and start clicking links to learn more as you go through.

      Then if you want a little more I would start with the book “Your Money or Your Life.”

      To answer your questions:

      1. The Roth ladder works by investing in a traditional IRA and then converting it into a Roth IRA right before you retire. If it were me, I would start with the traditional IRA. Then when I had access to a 401k I would take advantage of that.

      2. At your age I would start by focusing on getting your income up and keep saving more as your income increases. How exactly you invest doesn’t matter as much at this stage. I don’t know what your plans are, but if you’re going to college, make the most of it and don’t slack off. If you’re not going to college, work on a career plan. What do you want to do with your life and how are you going to make money doing it? Think about the next few years and set a goal for where you want to be.

      If you have any other questions, no comment is too long haha šŸ™‚


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