Strange but true: seniors fear death less than running out of money in retirement.
And retirees have good reason to be worried about making their assets last. People are living longer, so that money has to cover a longer period. Making matters worse, income generated using tried - and - true retirement planning approaches may not cover expenses these days. That means seniors must dip into principal to meet living expenses.
In today's economic environment, traditional income investments are not working.
For example, 10-year Treasury bonds in the late 1990s offered a yield of around 6.50%, which translated to an income source you could count on. However, today's yield is much lower - currently under 2% and probably not a viable return option to fund typical retirements.
The impact of this rate decline is sizeable: over 20 years, the difference in yield for a $1 million investment in 10-year Treasuries is more than $1 million.
And lower bond yields aren't the only potential problem seniors are facing. Today's retirees aren't feeling as secure as they once did about Social Security, either. Benefit checks will still be coming for the foreseeable future, but based on current estimates, Social Security funds 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
We feel that these dividend-paying equities - as long as they are from high-quality, low-risk issuers - can give retirement investors a smart option to replace low-yielding Treasury bonds (or other bonds).
For example, AT&T and Coca-Cola are income stocks with attractive dividend yields of 3% or better. Look for stocks like this that have paid steady, increasing dividends for years (or decades), and have not cut their dividends even during recessions.
A rule of thumb for finding solid income-producing stocks is to seek those that average 3% dividend yield, and positive yearly dividend growth. These stocks can help combat inflation by boosting dividends over time.
Here are three dividend-paying stocks retirees should consider for their nest egg portfolio.
Darden Restaurants (DRI - Free Report) is currently shelling out a dividend of $0.88 per share, with a dividend yield of 3.07%. This compares to the Retail - Restaurants industry's yield of 0% and the S&P 500's yield of 1.83%. In terms of dividend growth, the company's current annualized dividend of $3.52 is up 17.33% from last year.
Edison International (EIX - Free Report) is paying out a dividend of 0.61 per share at the moment, with a dividend yield of 3.45% compared to the Utility - Electric Power industry's yield of 3.04% and the S&P 500's yield. Taking a look at the company's dividend growth, its current annualized dividend of $2.45 is up 1.24% from last year.
Currently paying a dividend of 0.14 per share, First Horizon National (FHN - Free Report) has a dividend yield of 3.45%. This is compared to the Banks - Southeast industry's yield of 1.84% and the S&P 500's current yield. Looking at dividend growth, the company's current annualized dividend of $0.56 is up 16.67% from last year.
But aren't stocks generally more risky than bonds?
Overall, that is true. But stocks are a broad class, and you can reduce the risks significantly by selecting high-quality dividend stocks that can generate regular, predictable income and can also decrease the volatility of your portfolio compared to the overall stock market.
An advantage of owning dividend stocks for your retirement nest egg is that numerous companies, particularly blue chip stocks, raise their dividends over time, helping alleviate the impact of inflation on your potential retirement income.
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.
Pursuing a dividend investing strategy can help protect your retirement portfolio. Whether you choose to invest in stocks or through low-fee mutual funds or ETFs, this approach can potentially help you achieve a more secure and enjoyable retirement.
Generating income is just one aspect of planning for a comfortable retirement.
To learn more ways to maximize your assets - and avoid pitfalls that could jeopardize your financial security - download our free report:
Will You Retire a Multi-Millionaire? 7 Things You Can Do Now