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Improve Your Retirement Income with These 3 Top-Ranked Dividend Stocks - April 06, 2020

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Strange but true: seniors fear death less than running out of money in retirement.

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.

While this yield reduction may not seem drastic, it adds up: for a $1 million investment in 10-year Treasuries, the rate drop means a difference in yield of 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.

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.

AbbVie (ABBV - Free Report) is currently shelling out a dividend of $1.18 per share, with a dividend yield of 6.43%. This compares to the Large Cap Pharmaceuticals industry's yield of 3.09% and the S&P 500's yield of 2.53%. In terms of dividend growth, the company's current annualized dividend of $4.72 is up 10.28% from last year.

Aflac (AFL - Free Report) is paying out a dividend of 0.28 per share at the moment, with a dividend yield of 3.46% compared to the Insurance - Accident and Health industry's yield of 1.38% and the S&P 500's yield. Taking a look at the company's dividend growth, its current annualized dividend of $1.12 is up 3.7% from last year.

Currently paying a dividend of 0.93 per share, Astrazeneca (AZN - Free Report) has a dividend yield of 4.23%. This is compared to the Large Cap Pharmaceuticals industry's yield of 3.09% 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.

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 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.

Bottom Line

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


In-Depth Zacks Research for the Tickers Above


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AbbVie Inc. (ABBV) - free report >>

AstraZeneca PLC (AZN) - free report >>

Aflac Incorporated (AFL) - free report >>

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