Here's an eye-opening statistic: older Americans are more afraid of running out of money than of death itself.
And older Americans have legitimate reasons for this worry, even if they have dutifully saved for their golden years. That's because the traditional ways people manage retirement may no longer provide enough income to meet expenses - and with people generally living longer, the principal retirement savings is exhausted far too early in the retirement period.
Retirement investing approaches of the past don't work today.
For many years, bonds or other fixed-income assets could produce the yield needed to provide solid income for retirement needs. However, these yields have dwindled over time: 10-year Treasury bond rates in the late 1990s were around 6.50%, but today, that rate is a thing of the past, with a slim likelihood of rates making a comeback in the foreseeable future.
The effect of this drop in rates is substantial: over 20 years, the change in yield for a $1 million investment in 10-year Treasuries is over $1 million.
In addition to the considerable drop in bond yields, today's retirees are nervous about their future Social Security benefits. Because of certain demographic factors, it's been estimated that the funds that pay the Social Security benefits will run out of money in 2035.
So what can retirees do? You could dramatically reduce your expenses, and go out on a limb hoping your Social Security benefits don't diminish. On the other hand, you could opt for an alternative investment that gives a steady, higher-rate income stream to supplant lessening bond yields.
Invest in Dividend Stocks
Dividend-paying stocks from low-risk, high-quality companies are a smart way to generate steady and reliable attractive income streams to replace low risk, low yielding Treasury and bond options.
Look for stocks that have paid steady, increasing dividends for years (or decades), and have not cut their dividends even during recessions.
Going beyond those familiar names, you can find excellent dividend-paying stocks by following a few guidelines. Look for companies that pay a dividend yield of around 3%, with positive annual dividend growth. The growth rate is key to help combat the effects of inflation.
Here are three dividend-paying stocks retirees should consider for their nest egg portfolio.
Amgen ( is currently shelling out a dividend of $2.13 per share, with a dividend yield of 3.55%. This compares to the Medical - Biomedical and Genetics industry's yield of 0% and the S&P 500's yield of 1.72%. The company's annualized dividend growth in the past year was 9.79%. AMGN Quick Quote AMGN - Free Report) Check Amgen ( AMGN Quick Quote AMGN - Free Report) dividend history here>>> Conagra Brands ( is paying out a dividend of $0.33 per share at the moment, with a dividend yield of 3.48% compared to the Food - Miscellaneous industry's yield of 0% and the S&P 500's yield. The annualized dividend growth of the company was 5.6% over the past year. CAG Quick Quote CAG - Free Report) Check Conagra Brands ( CAG Quick Quote CAG - Free Report) dividend history here>>>
Currently paying a dividend of $0.3 per share,
Heartland Financial ( has a dividend yield of 3.69%. This is compared to the Banks - Midwest industry's yield of 3.53% and the S&P 500's current yield. Annualized dividend growth for the company in the past year was 11.11%. HTLF Quick Quote HTLF - Free Report) Check Heartland Financial ( HTLF Quick Quote HTLF - Free Report) dividend history here>>> But aren't stocks generally more risky than bonds?
Yes, that's true. As a broad category, bonds carry less risk than stocks. However, the stocks we are talking about - dividend -paying stocks from high-quality companies - can generate income over time and also mitigate the overall volatility of your portfolio compared to the stock market as a whole.
An upside to adding dividend stocks to your retirement portfolio: they can help lessen the effects of inflation, since many dividend-paying companies (especially blue chip stocks) generally increase their dividends over time.
Thinking about dividend-focused mutual funds or ETFs? Watch out for fees.
If you're interested in investing in dividends, but are thinking about mutual funds or ETFs rather than stocks, beware of fees. Mutual funds and specialized ETFs may carry high fees, which could lower the overall gains you earn from dividends, undercutting your dividend income strategy. Be sure to look for funds with low fees if you decide on this approach.
Seeking steady, consistent income through dividends can be a smart option for financial security in retirement, whether you invest in mutual funds, ETFs, or in dividend-paying stocks.