Many people are successful in saving money for retirement through IRAs. But if you need that money before you retire, there are often big penalties and other consequences. Is there any way to avoid penalties on early IRA withdrawals? 

In the following video, Dan Caplinger, the Motley Fool's director of investment planning, lists several ways you can take early IRA withdrawals penalty-free. Dan runs through various scenarios, including expenses for buying a home, paying for education, paying insurance premiums for unemployed workers, unreimbursed medical expenses above certain income levels, and disability-related expenses. Dan also discusses the substantially equal periodic payment exception. Dan concludes that even though early IRA withdrawals are never ideal because of the tax liability they incur, it's smart to take advantage of these penalty exceptions when possible.