Here's an important safety tip: Don't take money from your retirement savings to pay down a debt, unless you're facing foreclosure. Taking money out of your 401(k) or IRA is expensive. If you withdraw money before the age of 59 ½, you will need to pay taxes on the amount withdrawn, plus a 10 percent penalty. If you take money out of your retirement accounts it will lessen the amount of money you have to invest. As such, the return on those investments won't be as great, which can crack your nest egg.