Thanks for your question. I would generally advise against using retirement investments to pay for credit card debt (you mention tax deferred investments so I am guessing its most likely 401(k) or an IRA). At age 50, both of you are closing in on the retirement age and you will need these investments to fall back on. Another issue that you may probably have to deal with is the 10% penalty tax for early withdrawal.
Nearly every tax-deferred investment has some sort of a penalty attached for early withdrawal. As mentioned, the penalty for a 401(k) is a whopping 10% and this is in addition to applicable income taxes. See the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) document 401(k) Resource Guide - Plan Participants - General Distribution Rules and Publication 590, Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs) to learn more.
You also need to take stock of you how much your investments are earning for you and how much interest you are paying on the credit card debt. For example, with the stock market, you can only reasonably expect to make around 9%-15% per year, based on the historical performance of the market. When you pay down your debt, you are guaranteed to save yourself whatever interest rate you are paying. Therefore, if your choice is maybe 9%-15% gained on the stock market, or paying off your 14%-29% APR credit card debt, go with the guaranteed win and pay off the card, but make sure that you have funds available for your retirement.
There are many other forms of debt relief, including: i) debt consolidation loans, ii) credit counseling, iii) debt negotiation, and iv) bankruptcy. Debt consolidation can benefit you in many ways: i) monthly cash flow, ii) total savings, iii) interest deductibility, and iv) your credit rating.
However, all forms of debt consolidation are not the same. You need to consider your specific situation, including if you own or rent your home, your monthly debt to income ratio, and your credit rating. A program like a debt consolidation loan may lower your monthly payment, get you a lower rate than most credit cards, and the interest is tax deductible.
Alternatively, a program like negotiated debt settlement may lower your monthly payment, get you debt free fast, save half of what you owe, but it could negatively impact your credit rating. See What Are My Debt Resolution Options? to learn more.
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These are a few of the considerations. If you would like more information, please visit our debt relief boot-camp.