Thinking about taking an early distribution from your retirement plan and believe you can do so without getting hit with a penalty? You should be very, very careful in doing so. Yes, there are times when taking an early distribution is appropriate and you can avoid an early distribution penalty, but such situations are often few and far between. Aside from avoiding early distributions at all costs, you should really speak with a certified financial planner or retirement expert as part of the consideration process if you are fairly serious about doing so. While there are a number of ways you can take an early distribution without getting hit with a dreaded 10% penalty, it is also pretty easy to end up afoul of those exceptions and end up paying a hefty sum. The rules can be complex and if you don’t have a deep knowledge of how they work then you could be setting yourself up for trouble. This is why you need to speak with a financial professional who knows the rules and can provide honest and straight-forward feedback as well as make sure that you follow the proper rules should you find yourself in a situation in which you can take a distribution without the penalty hit. Those penalties can be somewhat hefty, especially if your distribution is a large chunk of money. Obviously you want to avoid the early distribution if possible, but if you do need to make one, be sure that you do so with all the knowledge and understanding possible.