Here's a revealing data point: older Americans are scared more of outliving wealth than of death itself.
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.
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.
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
Dividend-paying stocks from low-risk, high-quality companies are a smart way to generate steady and reliable attractive income streams to replace current low risk, low yielding Treasury and bond options.
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.
Carnival (CCL - Free Report) is currently shelling out a dividend of $0.5 per share, with a dividend yield of 4.59%. This compares to the Leisure and Recreation Services industry's yield of 0% and the S&P 500's yield of 1.81%. In terms of dividend growth, the company's current annualized dividend of $2 is flat compared to last year.
CyrusOne (CONE - Free Report) is paying out a dividend of 0.5 per share at the moment, with a dividend yield of 3.29% compared to the REIT and Equity Trust - Other industry's yield of 4% and the S&P 500's yield. Taking a look at the company's dividend growth, its current annualized dividend of $2 is up 8.7% from last year.
Currently paying a dividend of 0.88 per share, Darden Restaurants (DRI - Free Report) has a dividend yield of 3.02%. This is compared to the Retail - Restaurants industry's yield of 0% and the S&P 500's current yield. Looking at dividend growth, the company's current annualized dividend of $3.52 is up 17.33% from last year.
But aren't stocks generally more risky than bonds?
It is true that stocks, as an asset class, carry more risk than bonds, but high-quality dividend stocks not only have the ability to produce income growth over time but more importantly, can also reduce your overall portfolio volatility relative to the broader stock market.
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.
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