I have some friends who work at a company which offers 50% 401k matching up to some amount, but they don't take advantage of it because they want to use the money for non-retirement purposes. Ignoring the problems with not saving for retirement, it seems like they're leaving money on the table. Can't they just contribute to their 401k up to the matching limit, then immediately withdraw it? I know there's a 10% early withdrawal penalty, but as long as the match is more than 11.1̅%, it seems like it would always be worth it.
Is there any reason this won't work, like limits to how soon you can withdraw from an 401k, or how you withdraw from it?
I know that you have to pay income tax on the money you withdraw, but you'd have to pay it either way so I don't think it's relevant.