Here's a revealing data point: older Americans are scared more of outliving wealth 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.
In the past, investors going into retirement could invest in bonds and count on attractive yields to produce steady, reliable income streams to fund a predictable retirement. 10-year Treasury bond rates in the late 1990s hovered around 6.50%, whereas at the time of this article, the current rate is under 2% and looks to stay low thanks to an accommodative Fed.
That means if you had $1 million in 10-year Treasuries, the difference in yield between 1999 and today is 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.
So what's a retiree to do? You could cut your expenses to the bone, and take the risk that your Social Security checks don't shrink. Or you could find an alternative investment that provides a steady, higher-rate income stream to replace dwindling bond yields.
Invest in Dividend Stocks
As we see it, dividend-paying stocks from generally low-risk, top notch companies are a brilliant way to create steady and solid income streams to supplant current low risk, low yielding Treasury and fixed-income alternatives.
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.
One way to identify suitable candidates is to look for stocks with an average dividend yield of 3%, and positive average annual dividend growth. Many stocks increase dividends over time, helping to offset the effects of inflation.
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 1.75%. 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 0.64 per share at the moment, with a dividend yield of 3.26% compared to the Utility - Electric Power industry's yield of 2.81% and the S&P 500's yield. Taking a look at the company's dividend growth, its current annualized dividend of $2.55 is up 4.08% from last year.
Currently paying a dividend of 0.38 per share, Foot Locker (FL - Free Report) has a dividend yield of 3.84%. This is compared to the Retail - Apparel and Shoes industry's yield of 0% and the S&P 500's current yield. Looking at dividend growth, the company's current annualized dividend of $1.52 is up 10.14% 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.
If you prefer investing in funds or ETFs compared to individual stocks, you can still pursue a dividend income strategy. However, it's important to know the fees charged by each fund or ETF, which can ultimately reduce your dividend income, working against your strategy. Do your homework and make sure you know the fees charged by any fund before you invest.
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