Here's an eye-opening statistic: older Americans are more afraid of running out of money than of death itself.
Also, retirees who have constructed a nest egg have valid justifications to be concerned, since the traditional ways to plan for retirement may mean income can no longer cover expenses. Some retirees are now tapping their principal to make a decent living, pressed for time between decreasing investment balances and longer life expectancies.
Retirement investing approaches of the past don't work today.
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.
While this yield reduction may not seem drastic, it adds up: for a $1 million investment in 10-year Treasuries, the rate drop means a difference in yield of more than $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.
How can you avoid dipping into your principal when the investments you counted on in retirement aren't producing income? You can only cut your expenses so far, and the only other option is to find a different investment vehicle to generate income.
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.
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.
DiamondRock Hospitality (DRH - Free Report) is currently shelling out a dividend of $0.13 per share, with a dividend yield of 4.89%. This compares to the REIT and Equity Trust - Other industry's yield of 4.09% and the S&P 500's yield of 1.84%. In terms of dividend growth, the company's current annualized dividend of $0.5 is flat compared to 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 3.42% compared to the Utility - Electric Power industry's yield of 2.98% 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 3.51%. This is compared to the Banks - Southeast industry's yield of 1.8% 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?
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 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.
You may be thinking, "I like this dividend strategy, but instead of investing in individual stocks, I'm going to find a dividend-focused mutual fund or ETF." This approach can make sense, but be aware that some mutual funds and specialized ETFs carry high fees, which may reduce your dividend gains or income, and defeat the goal of this dividend investment approach. If you do wish to invest in a fund, do your research to find the best-quality dividend funds with the lowest fees.
Whether you select high-quality, low-fee funds or stocks, seeking the steady income of dividend-paying equities can potentially offer you a path to a better and more stress-free 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