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.
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.
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.
Today's retirees are getting hit hard by reduced bond yields - and the Social Security picture isn't too rosy either. Right now and for the near future, Social Security benefits are still being paid, but it has been estimated that the Social Security funds will be depleted as soon as 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
As a replacement for low yielding Treasury bonds (and other bond options), we believe dividend-paying stocks from high quality companies offer low risk and stable, predictable income investors in retirement seek.
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.
Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY) is currently shelling out a dividend of $0.45 per share, with a dividend yield of 3.02%. This compares to the Large Cap Pharmaceuticals industry's yield of 2.63% and the S&P 500's yield of 2.02%. In terms of dividend growth, the company's current annualized dividend of $1.8 is up 2.5% from last year.
Citigroup (C) is paying out a dividend of 0.51 per share at the moment, with a dividend yield of 3.17% compared to the Banks - Major Regional industry's yield of 2.75% and the S&P 500's yield. Taking a look at the company's dividend growth, its current annualized dividend of $2.04 is up 13.33% from last year.
Currently paying a dividend of 0.16 per share, Huntsman (HUN) has a dividend yield of 3.6%. This is compared to the Chemical - Diversified industry's yield of 1.78% and the S&P 500's current yield. Looking at dividend growth, the company's current annualized dividend of $0.65 is flat compared to 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 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 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.
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