Directly from the 401k website titled......
WITHDRAWING MONEY FROM YOUR 401k ACCOUNT
The government encourages you to save in a retirement savings plan by giving you a big tax break. To protect that tax break, they make it tough to withdraw your money before retirement. But in certain special cases, you may be able to withdraw money from your retirement savings plan account before you reach age 59 1/2.
Withdrawing before-tax money
Before-tax contributions give you such great tax advantages, you simply cannot withdraw this money without getting hit with taxes and a penalty equal to 10% of the withdrawal amount. Even then, you're allowed to withdraw before-tax money only for certain IRS-defined financial hardships, and only after you've exhausted all other sources of money such as savings accounts and bank loans. These financial hardships may include:*
- Medical expenses
- Buying your principal residence
- Tuition and certain educational fees
- Payments to prevent foreclosure on or eviction from your principal residence
Withdrawals from the Plan may be subject to 20% federal tax withholding. However hardship withdrawals are not subject to the mandatory 20% withholding.
* Refer to your summary plan description for your plan's hardship withdrawal rules.
Withdrawing after-tax money
Generally, you can withdraw after-tax contributions any time you want because you've already paid taxes on the money. However, you may be required to withdraw a portion of the earnings on those contributions. The earnings portion will be treated just like a before-tax withdrawal (if you're under age 59 1/2), which means it may be subject to early withdrawal penalties in addition to taxes.
Go to the website and get official info and understand that forums are fraught with many different peoples understanding of what is!
I know most mean well, but it's uncanny how many are so wrong on any given subject.
Like others have said, change your consumption habits, call credit card companies and get them to reduce interest rates, many will if you have a decent track record. Consolidate, borrow from friend and family, sell something, reduce your 401k contrbution percentage, use a HELOC, etc........just pretend that 401k does not exist or you will be kicking yourself down the road. Trust me.