Hi, I am 56, employed, make a decent wage. I am

I am 56, employed, make a decent wage. I am vested in my retirement account for the work I am currently doing, and will get a few thousand dollars a month from that when I retire, plus medical.
I am also collecting a $1000 a month from an early retirement from another line of work I held.
Separated from husband four years ago, bought house, raised kids, got very little help from him (no legal divorce settlement yet--can't afford it!--but should get a substantial settlement if I ever do). Ran up cc debts after separation, and have been pretty much just managing them--they are about the same after paying on them for a few years now.
My interest rates got raised to 29.99 a few years ago by two companies (Citi and Chase), not because I was delinquent--have never missed a payment--but because I had too much debt, and they were approaching a deadline that would have prevented them from jacking up the rates if they waited.
Once that happened, I've just been treading water. Making a little more than minimum payments. And life, when you have kids, happens. Get a balance down and a medical or dental bill pops up, or a car dies, or pet gets sick.
So it goes. One kid off to college, another finishing HS soon, so light at the end of the tunnel.
My credit is decent--680-720 range. I have never missed a payment, had a judgement against me, etc. Have a house, never late w/mortgage.
Had a decent car, it was totaled in an accident and insurance paid pennies on the dollar, left with about $6k to pay off, about halfway there.
Have about 10% equity on my house, no one wants to consolidate my loans on this.
I just don't see this changing unless I do something drastic.
Considering selling the pension I am currently collecting. I have three options: selling one year's income (12K) for 5K, which would allow me to pay for a divorce if it doesn't get too ugly, but leave me in pretty tight straits for paying my debts this year; 5 years income ($72K) for $36K, and selling 8 years ($96K) for $50K.
My credit card balances run about $34K. I also have about $13K in other debt, including the long-gone car I'm still paying off, school loan, personal loan, medical.
If I get a sum that permits me to pay down my debt, than the cost of the difference between the payout and the income stream is mitigated by both the interest I don't have to pay and the peace of mind I achieve. I would actually have more money in my pocket each month, at least for several years, if I do this.

I want to pay all of these off (as I assume is the case with virtually everyone who posts here), but don't have sufficient money to do that.

I paid $1700 this month just in debt payments (not including mortgage), and really dread the idea of something happening to blow down my house of cards. Even though I will take quite a hit to go the pension stream sale route, it's the only option I see right now.
If I go into a divorce with this huge debt hanging over my head, I feel like my spouse would use that against me. I also don't want the tension of having that unresolved while I go through the upheaval of the courts. If I have no debt, I feel like that would be a source of strength.

Can you help me explore the pros and cons of going this route? Also, how do I find a reputable company that does this? How do I find the best rates for this? And what is the impact on my credit score?

Thanks very much--I have no clue as to where to turn to get answers, and found this website whilel I was searching. Hoping someone can advise.

2 Answers

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Can you share some more info?  How much do you net monthly?  Break down your expenses for us. Share the balance and minimum payments for your cards as well as other monthly payments (mortgage, food, utilities, insurance, etc.).  Also include any "extras" (non-essentials) such as cable tv, cell phones, etc.

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A little more information to add to the above: I am pretty frugal by nature, not given to frivolous shopping, I don't take vacations, drive an old beater, I make regular raises at work so I see my income going up as my expenses go down (as kids get more independent).  I hope to work about another six years and retire.  Considering Peace Corps for a few years then, so by the time I was out of that, the income from the first pension should be back, as well as the one for my current job.

If I kept making payments for five years the way I did this month, that's over $100K right there!  

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