Are there access problems with your money in retirement vehicles....yes. However, appropriate use of an IRA will allow you far greater access to your accumulated savings - you may pay taxes and penalty on using the funds you can easily access but that choice is solely in your hands - not in an employers hands, restricted by rules in the employer 401(k) plan. Please see the following for information on retirement savings limitations and options and read Pub 790 and talk to a local banker, or any Schwab, Fidelity, American Funds, T. Rowe Price, etc. adviser about setting up an accessible IRA. You local bank will gladly set up a cash based IRA if you are risk adverse and do not have the time to learn about and understand risk investments.