When rolling over your 401(k) is the wrong move

You want to do it yourself

Doing a 401(k) rollover into an IRA or moving 401(k) funds from one employer to another requires carefully following IRS rules.

It would be a shame if you made a mistake that caused the IRS to consider your transaction as "cashing out," requiring you to pay a 10% early withdrawal penalty.

A common pitfall is botching an indirect rollover. If the old 401(k) funds go into your checking account instead of directly into your new rollover account, you’re more likely to accidentally break the rules.

A major brokerage like Vanguard, Schwab or Fidelity can walk you through the process so you don’t make any mistakes.

They can help you open your new account, fill out the forms for you and move the funds directly from your old account to your new one (called a "trustee to trustee" transfer), ensuring you don’t throw away money on penalties.

Just don’t rely on them for financial advice unless you’ve specifically hired one of their financial advisers, and ignore any sales pitches for investment services or products you probably don’t need.