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Dave Says: How Should You Prepare to Buy a House?

by | Aug. 20, 2013

Finances

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Dear Dave,

Should I take advantage of a 403(b) withdrawal in order to buy a house?

Bryan

Dear Bryan,

I wouldn’t do that because it really doesn’t accomplish anything. The only money you can take out is what you’ve put in, and any growth you’ve experienced has to stay in there. Basically, it’s a retirement plan, and I wouldn’t monkey around with retirement money to buy a home.

My advice is to make sure you’re debt-free and you have three to six months of expenses set aside in an emergency fund. Once you’ve taken care of those issues, you can pile up a bunch of cash in a money market account toward the purchase of a home. You won’t earn a lot of money, but it’s a safe place to park your cash when you’re saving up for a big purchase.

When it comes to saving and investing, I’m a big fan of mutual funds. The problem in this scenario is that if you start sticking money in mutual funds, then the market is down when you’re ready to buy, you could’ve lost some money. That’s not the route I’d want to go if I’m in your shoes, Bryan. I’d forego the opportunity to make money in order to keep it safe for this goal.

—Dave

* Dave Ramsey is America’s trusted voice on money and business. He’s authored four New York Times best-selling books: Financial Peace, More Than Enough, The Total Money Makeover and EntreLeadership. The Dave Ramsey Show is heard by more than 6 million listeners each week on more than 500 radio stations. Follow Dave on Twitter at @DaveRamsey and on the web at daveramsey.com.

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