Sometimes you just don't have a choice. With a national unemployment rate still above eight percent, and more displaced workers since the start of the recession, a recent survey from Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies found more than a third of laid-off workers had to raid their retirement savings to make ends meet.

In many cases, the unemployed and underemployed had to dip into their 401(k) plans, which brings on massive penalties and additional taxes.

"The reality of it is - people have to dip into savings to live," said Ken Kamen with Mercadien Asset Management in Princeton. He also said the "savings raids" trend isn't due to Americans acting irresponsibly.

"Incomes haven't been growing and jobs have been shaky, at best," Kamen added.

Kamen strongly advised against people borrowing from their employer-sponsored savings accounts. He referred to 401(k) as a "last, last, last" option. However, not everyone has other options. The lucky few have retirement savings beyond the plans offered at their former jobs.

According to Kamen, some people do not realize the importance of saving on their own, and if they do, they don't know how much to save.

"Most people put off pain today to be able to deal with the pain tomorrow, but if everyone understood that the pain tomorrow might be four times as a great as the pain today, maybe they wouldn't look at it that way," Kamen said.