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You CAN withdraw the principal from a Roth (not the profits) without penalty.

That's right.

Actually, that's SOMETIMES right. It depends what kind of Roth IRA you have. If you CONVERTED a regular (or Traditional) IRA to a Roth, you MUST wait 5 years to touch that converted principal, to avoid a 10% conversion penalty!! A Roth IRA that was begun that way (a contributory Roth: i.e. principal came from regular income and was not previously invested in an IRA) allows tax-free and penalty-free withdrawals.

But, of course, if you do this, you penalize yourself by depriving your account of the power of compounding. Not very Foolish to do so...
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