Millennials, the largest and most diverse generation in the workforce, generally face financial challenges that their parents did not as young adults.
On top of carrying most of the $1.4 trillion in student loan debt, their wages are lower than their parents' earnings when they were in their 20s: $40,581 in 2013 versus the inflation-adjusted $50,910 earned by baby boomers in 1989, according to a 2017 study by advocacy group Young Invincibles.
"There's no doubt that millennials face unique challenges," Loewengart said. "It's certainly worth recognizing, but it doesn't detract from the necessary steps to take to generate wealth."
One problem with tapping retirement money before age 59½ is that most of those distributions will generate a tax bill. Early withdrawals from 401(k) accounts and IRAs — excluding Roth versions of both — are subject not only to regular income taxes, but also a 10 percent early withdrawal penalty unless you meet one of a few exclusions.