If your goal is to withdraw money from your retirement plan rather than borrow it, you'll probably discover that there are several ways to crack open your nest egg.
Many 401(k)s and other workplace retirement plans allow hardship withdrawals for certain purposes: to buy a home, to prevent eviction or foreclosure, to pay medical bills, or to cover the cost of college tuition for the next year. (Your plan may allow withdrawals for other reasons, but you generally have to prove that your financial need is substantial and pressing and that you have no other resources to tap.)
Hardship withdrawals don't come cheap. They incur income taxes and can incur penalties just like any other premature withdrawal.
You can avoid the ...