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marciawayne: 2) If not, can I rollover my 401(k) money into an IRA prior to leaving the company?

TMFPixy already suggested you ask..... which is true. I can tell you that I work for a generally conservative company, where employees are allowed to do what you're suggesting here. I did it several years ago. It was a full-non-hardship withdrawal, which (in our case) was not really "full," but was plenty. And it did accomplish what I wanted.....

The bad news, in my situation, was that immediately after I did a rollover into an IRA controlled by a financial advisor, where he put it into mutual funds we could choose, etc., --- the bad news is that my company's stock price took off, and the mutual funds did just what TMF says they do -- very little.

The good news: after I was introduced to TMF and studied up, and practiced a bit, I took that IRA, paid a cancellation of contract fee, and rolled it over yet again into an IRA at E*Trade, invested in carefully selected stocks. That was last February. Now, 12 months later, that IRA has far more than doubled!

good luck.

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