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What's the worst financial advice you've ever received?

MainStreet posed this question to a group of average Americans and received a variety of colorful responses -- from investment mistakes to real-estate blunders.

To find out what can be learned from each person's story, we picked the brains of financial planners from around the country. Interestingly, while the advisers agreed that some advice was indeed unwise, in other cases they argued that the advice could be sound in certain situations.

"A lot of financial advice is not 'one size fits all,'" says certified financial planner Helen Huntley of Holifield Huntley Financial Advisers in St. Petersburg, Fla. "Advice that's good for one person may not be at all good for another who is in different circumstances."

You should also keep in mind that while seeking professional financial advice is often the way to go, you should be wary of an adviser who is too pushy.

"When a client feels pressure from anybody to make a financial decision -- especially those taking their money -- run for the exit," says certified financial planner Phyllis Carlton of Carlton Advisors in West Linn, Ore. "A true financial professional will be able to answer any and all questions in terms the client understands. If they don't, either they do not understand the risks themselves or they don't have their client's best interests in mind."

Read on to hear the stories of six Americans, plus comments from the pros.

Name: Janet Zinn

Hometown: New York

Age: 51

Profession: Psychotherapist

Worst advice:

"About 10 years ago an old accountant advised we cash in a substantial 401k plan to pay off credit card debt, instead of instituting a plan to pay it off over time and learn how to spend and save at the same time."

What the experts say:

In general, touching your retirement plan before you reach retirement age is a no-no.

"When folks are under 59½ years of age, there is a 10% penalty (for cashing in your 401k) in addition to the current income taxes owed on whatever amount was cashed in," says certified financial planner Debra L. Morrison of Trovena in Roseland, N.J.

Morrison says a better idea is to consider taking out a loan on 401k money following "a rigid, monthly repayment schedule, which requires the participant to pay off the loan, thereby maintaining the retirement funds for their original intended use."

Of course, there are exceptions. "The advice may have been appropriate if, say, the credit card was charging 29% interest and the consumer was in the 15% bracket with a 10% penalty," says financial adviser Fred Amrein of Amrein Financial in Wynnewood, Pa. In this instance, "your cost of the 401k redemption is 25%, saving you 4%."

Always do your homework, and run the numbers before making any decisions to touch your retirement fund, Amrein adds.