A 401k Debit Card? Seriously?


I heard a friend talking about this the other day as being an offering at his place of employment, and I was actually waiting, after he introduced the idea, for the punchline to the joke; but there was none. It REALLY is a product! I did some more research to be completely positive, and sure enough, it is. What an absolutely ridiculous idea! What better way to undermine the already underfunded retirement accounts of the American economy!

Quoting from TheStreet.com:

“Here’s how it works: After a company adopts the program, employees can transfer their approved loan line into a ReservePlus account online. Later, they receive a debit card that they can use to take out as much or as little as they need of the loan amount — on average taking out 35% less than they applied for, says David Young, director of Reserve Solutions at The Reserve, the company offering the cards.”

Oh David Young, I’m sure you’re starting this up because there is a niche for it, and people are somewhat naive when it comes to understanding what a 401k actually is, and does. I always try to understand different situations, and see if from all sides of the coin, and when I look at this one from the other side (David Young’s side) I see it better from his side. He’s making a profit off this idea; granted off the poorly educated folks that don’t quite get the point of their 401k, so congrats to him. On the flip side, I hope that these people using this card realize soon the err in their ways.

“Generally, with traditional 401(k) loans, employees must pay back their loan within 60 days of leaving a job or be subject to hefty tax and early withdrawal penalties. But with ReservePlus, an employee is able to continue paying the loan off of its initial course — typically five years — regardless of employment.”

This is ONE thing I guess I can see being beneficial, if there IS a “beneficial” to this. Taking standard 401k loans can be pricey, and this makes it a bit easier to pay back, but me personally? No thanks, made that mistake, won’t again. I’m still paying it back.

Photo by: free-ers

“The debit cards are “not for everybody,” Young says. But adds, though, that the cards give people a sense of confidence and control, which in turn encourages otherwise reluctant people to participate in retirement programs, knowing that their savings won’t be locked up for decades.”

Oh David, you’ve lost me now. I’m no longer on your side. I think you may need some education on this front also.CLEARLY the cards are “not for everybody,” they’re more like “not for ANYBODY.” This whole paragraph is ridiculous, what confidence can you get by undermining the whole point of a 401k plan? He goes on to mention that “their savings won’t be locked up for decades.” Oh, Dear God, help us all. First of all, that is the whole point of compounding interest, and secondly it is NOT savings. Savings are for Emergency funds. Retirement plans are for RETIREMENT!

Ultimately it comes down to finding a niche, whether that be in blogging or just standard life. Find a niche and exploit it. That’s why inventions are made, why businesses are started, and clearly why bad financial advice comes to fruition. In my opinion, this could be one of the biggest detriments to a good plan. If your company has one, I’d stay away from it if I were you. If you really need to borrow money, look to a bank, or contact me, I’ll give you a better loan and WON’T derail your financial future.


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