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.
Retirement investing approaches of the past don'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.
That means if you had $1 million in 10-year Treasuries, the difference in yield between 1999 and today is more than $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's a retiree to do? You could cut your expenses to the bone, and take the risk that your Social Security checks don't shrink. Or you could find an alternative investment that provides a steady, higher-rate income stream to replace dwindling 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.
One way to identify suitable candidates is to look for stocks with an average dividend yield of 3%, and positive average annual dividend growth. Many stocks increase dividends over time, helping to offset the effects of inflation.
Here are three dividend-paying stocks retirees should consider for their nest egg portfolio.
PLDT ( is currently shelling out a dividend of $0.52 per share, with a dividend yield of 4.19%. This compares to the Wireless Non-US industry's yield of 2.86% and the S&P 500's yield of 2.11%. In terms of dividend growth, the company's current annualized dividend of $1.04 is up 16.46% from last year. PHI Quick Quote PHI - Free Report) Smucker ( is paying out a dividend of 0.88 per share at the moment, with a dividend yield of 3.06% compared to the Food - Miscellaneous industry's yield of 0.72% and the S&P 500's yield. Taking a look at the company's dividend growth, its current annualized dividend of $3.52 is up 3.53% from last year. SJM Quick Quote SJM - Free Report)
Currently paying a dividend of 0.44 per share,
Schweitzer-Mauduit ( has a dividend yield of 5.46%. This is compared to the Tobacco industry's yield of 6.31% and the S&P 500's current yield. Looking at dividend growth, the company's current annualized dividend of $1.76 is flat compared to last year. SWM Quick Quote SWM - Free Report) 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 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.
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:
Will You Retire a Multi-Millionaire? 7 Things You Can Do Now