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It used to be that a person would work at only a few companies for practically their entire life. It wasn’t unheard of to, in fact, spend an entire career at a single corporation. These days, things are a little different.

The average American will work more than 18 different jobs over the course of their working lives. That’s a lot of jobs. And although that high number includes employment while in high school and college, the average American will still work at a number of different places after their school days.

What does this mean? We have a lot of 401(k) and 403(b) accounts lying around.

At first blush, it may be tempting to cash out these accounts when we switch jobs. After all, if you’re working an average of 18 jobs, the average tenure at each is relatively small and your individual balances will reflect that. The truth is that cashing out a 401(k) could one of the most idiotic moves you could make on your path to retirement – no matter how small the balance is.

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