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3 Top-Ranked Dividend Stocks: A Smarter Way to Boost Your Retirement Income - February 25, 2020

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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.

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

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.

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.

Arrow Financial (AROW) is currently shelling out a dividend of $0.26 per share, with a dividend yield of 3.05%. This compares to the Banks - Northeast industry's yield of 1.86% and the S&P 500's yield of 1.83%. In terms of dividend growth, the company's current annualized dividend of $1.04 is up 3% from last year.

Brixmor Property (BRX - Free Report) is paying out a dividend of 0.28 per share at the moment, with a dividend yield of 5.63% compared to the REIT and Equity Trust - Retail industry's yield of 4.9% and the S&P 500's yield. Taking a look at the company's dividend growth, its current annualized dividend of $1.14 is up 1.82% from last year.

Currently paying a dividend of 0.5 per share, Carnival (CCL) has a dividend yield of 5.3%. This is compared to the Leisure and Recreation Services industry's yield of 0% and the S&P 500's current yield. Looking at dividend growth, the company's current annualized dividend of $2 is flat compared to 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 upside to adding dividend stocks to your retirement portfolio: they can help lessen the effects of inflation, since many dividend-paying companies (especially blue chip stocks) generally increase their dividends over time.

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.

Bottom Line

Regardless of whether you select high-quality, low-fee funds or stocks, looking for a steady stream of income from dividend-paying equities can potentially lead you to a solid and more peaceful 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:

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Brixmor Property Group Inc. (BRX) - free report >>

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