Here's a revealing data point: older Americans are scared more of outliving wealth than of death itself.
And retirees have good reason to be worried about making their assets last. People are living longer, so that money has to cover a longer period. Making matters worse, income generated using tried - and - true retirement planning approaches may not cover expenses these days. That means seniors must dip into principal to meet living expenses.
The tried - and - true retirement investing approach of yesterday doesn't work today.
Years ago, investors at or close to retirement could put money into fixed-income assets and depend on appealing yields to generate consistent, solid pay streams to fund a comfortable retirement. 10-year Treasury bond rates in the late 1990s floated around 6.50%, but unfortunately, those days of being able to exclusively rely on Treasury yields to fund retirement income are over.
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.
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 can retirees do? You could dramatically reduce your expenses, and go out on a limb hoping your Social Security benefits don't diminish. On the other hand, you could opt for an alternative investment that gives a steady, higher-rate income stream to supplant lessening 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.
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.
Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) is currently shelling out a dividend of $0.36 per share, with a dividend yield of 4.16%. This compares to the Agriculture - Operations industry's yield of 0% and the S&P 500's yield of 2.31%. In terms of dividend growth, the company's current annualized dividend of $1.44 is up 4.48% from last year.
Ameriprise Financial Services (AMP) is paying out a dividend of 0.97 per share at the moment, with a dividend yield of 3.42% compared to the Financial - Investment Management industry's yield of 3.06% and the S&P 500's yield. Taking a look at the company's dividend growth, its current annualized dividend of $3.88 is up 7.78% from last year.
Currently paying a dividend of 0.93 per share, Astrazeneca (AZN) has a dividend yield of 4.4%. This is compared to the Large Cap Pharmaceuticals industry's yield of 2.98% and the S&P 500's current yield. Looking at dividend growth, the company's current annualized dividend of $1.86 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.
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 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.
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