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How to Maximize Your Retirement Portfolio with These Top-Ranked Dividend Stocks - January 29, 2020

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Believe it or not, seniors fear running out of cash more than they fear dying.

And unfortunately, even retirees who have built a nest egg have good reason to be concerned - with the traditional approaches to retirement planning, income may no longer cover expenses. That means retirees are dipping into principal to make ends meet, setting up a race against time between dwindling investment balances and longer lifespans.

The tried - and - true retirement investing approach of yesterday doesn'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.

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'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 approach to recognizing appropriate stocks is to look for companies with an average dividend yield of 3% and positive average annual dividend growth. Numerous stocks hike dividends over time, counterbalancing inflation risks.

Here are three dividend-paying stocks retirees should consider for their nest egg portfolio.

Foot Locker (FL) is currently shelling out a dividend of $0.38 per share, with a dividend yield of 3.91%. This compares to the Retail - Apparel and Shoes industry's yield of 0% and the S&P 500's yield of 1.8%. In terms of dividend growth, the company's current annualized dividend of $1.52 is up 10.14% from last year.

General Mills (GIS - Free Report) is paying out a dividend of 0.49 per share at the moment, with a dividend yield of 3.7% compared to the Food - Miscellaneous industry's yield of 0.25% and the S&P 500's yield. Taking a look at the company's dividend growth, its current annualized dividend of $1.96 is flat compared to last year.

Currently paying a dividend of 0.18 per share, Independent Bank (IBCP) has a dividend yield of 3.3%. This is compared to the Banks - Midwest industry's yield of 2.4% and the S&P 500's current yield. Looking at dividend growth, the company's current annualized dividend of $0.72 is up 20% 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.

A silver lining to owning dividend stocks for your retirement portfolio is that many companies, especially blue chip stocks, increase their dividends over time, helping offset the effects of inflation on your potential retirement income.

Thinking about dividend-focused mutual funds or ETFs? Watch out for fees.

If you're thinking, "I want to invest in a dividend-focused ETF or mutual fund," make sure to do your homework. It's important to know that some mutual funds and specialized ETFs charge high fees, which may diminish your dividend gains or income and thwart the overall objective of this investment strategy. If you do want to invest in fund, research well to identify the best-quality dividend funds with the least charges.

Bottom Line

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


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General Mills, Inc. (GIS) - free report >>

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