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.
In today's economic environment, traditional income investments are not working.
For many years, bonds or other fixed-income assets could produce the yield needed to provide solid income for retirement needs. However, these yields have dwindled over time: 10-year Treasury bond rates in the late 1990s were around 6.50%, but today, that rate is a thing of the past, with a slim likelihood of rates making a comeback in the foreseeable future.
The effect of this drop in rates is substantial: over 20 years, the change in yield for a $1 million investment in 10-year Treasuries is over $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
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.
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.
AES (AES) is currently shelling out a dividend of $0.14 per share, with a dividend yield of 3.29%. This compares to the Utility - Electric Power industry's yield of 3.08% and the S&P 500's yield of 2.04%. In terms of dividend growth, the company's current annualized dividend of $0.57 is up 5% from last year.
Dime (DCOM) is paying out a dividend of 0.14 per share at the moment, with a dividend yield of 3.22% compared to the Financial - Savings and Loan industry's yield of 2.57% and the S&P 500's yield. Taking a look at the company's dividend growth, its current annualized dividend of $0.56 is flat compared to last year.
Currently paying a dividend of 0.32 per share, DHT Holdings (DHT) has a dividend yield of 23.4%. This is compared to the Transportation - Shipping industry's yield of 0% and the S&P 500's current yield. Looking at dividend growth, the company's current annualized dividend of $1.28 is up 150% 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 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.
Seeking steady, consistent income through dividends can be a smart option for financial security in retirement, whether you invest in mutual funds, ETFs, or in dividend-paying stocks.
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