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Didn't get $1,400 stimulus checks? Took money from retirement accounts? Q&A with readers

Erin Arvedlund, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Home and Consumer News

Vanguard's average equaled about $24,600, with a median of $13,300. Vanguard declined to give the total dollar amount but said about one in four people took out nearly all or 100% of their money, and one-half took out less than 50%.

What do you do now if you need to play catch-up?

Repay the money. The sooner, the better. Pay at least some back in 2021. Get a loan. If you're nearly out of money, consider a home equity loan or 401(k) loan instead of another withdrawal. Taxes. These special COVID-19 withdrawals are taxed as ordinary income. One-third of the money you withdraw will be considered income by the IRS for each of the following three years. Women and the she-cession

During the pandemic, women face a "triple whammy": as frontline workers in the pandemic, in industries experiencing economic recession, and as caregivers shouldering domestic work due to school and day care closures, according to new research.

Women are now more likely to be unemployed than men, and mothers of young children report higher unemployment rates and labor force exit rates compared with fathers. Even in households in which both parents remained employed and telecommute, mothers are reducing work time to a greater extent.

 

This likely exacerbates inequalities between women and men in retirement, lifetime earnings, and economic independence.

For those women still in the workforce, Fidelity offers webinars on how women can play catch-up, including extra contributions to retirement accounts, delay taking Social Security after the minimum eligible age of 62, and recognize that gender does have hidden costs. While all 401(k) balances were up last year, women saved less than men, according to LT Trust.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, women continue to report historic levels of stress surrounding their finances, job security, and long-term savings. New research from Fidelity finds that 79% of women are currently feeling the weight of that stress, up from 67% last fall.

One silver lining? "Women take greater control over their financial lives. We saw this firsthand as annual retail account openings by women grew by an unprecedented 41%," said Kathleen Murphy, president of personal investing at Fidelity Investments.

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