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12. Tap your IRA
Pros: If you're younger than 591/2 and you've had the Individual Retirement Account for more than five years, you may be able to make a penalty-free withdrawal to pay for certain things (such as a home or medical expenses).

To see if you qualify, go to irs.gov and search for Publication 590. Also, there's a little-known provision that allows you to withdraw money from an IRA so long as you roll it over into a new IRA or redeposit it in the same account within 60 days.

Cons: You'll lose the potential for investment gains, just as you do when you borrow from a 401(k). You can take advantage of the 60-day window only once a year. And if the money doesn't find its way back into an IRA within 60 days, you'll owe taxes and a bruising 10% penalty if you're younger than 591/2, warns Miami financial planner Ellen R. Siegel.

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Last updated August 22 2008: 12:36 PM ET
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