During the financial crisis, many cash-strapped workers resorted to 401(k) loans to make ends meet. But by doing so, they paid a higher cost than most of them realized.

In the following video, Fool contributor Dan Caplinger takes a look at the true cost of 401(k) loans. Although many people like these loans because you're essentially paying interest to yourself rather than to a big bank, Dan points out that the interest you pay to your 401(k) plan ends up getting taxed again when you withdraw it in retirement, creating a double tax hit. More importantly, Dan notes that money you borrow from your 401(k) loses its opportunity to earn returns from investment, which over the past several years has added up to substantial lost profits. Before taking a 401(k) loan, make sure you know exactly how much it could cost you in the long run.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.