Here's an eye-opening statistic: older Americans are more afraid of running out of money 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.
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 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.
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
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.
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.
Greif (GEF) is currently shelling out a dividend of $0.44 per share, with a dividend yield of 4.1%. This compares to the Containers - Paper and Packaging industry's yield of 2.68% and the S&P 500's yield of 1.84%. In terms of dividend growth, the company's current annualized dividend of $1.76 is flat compared to last year.
Huntington Bancshares (HBAN) is paying out a dividend of 0.15 per share at the moment, with a dividend yield of 4.1% compared to the Banks - Midwest industry's yield of 2.34% and the S&P 500's yield. Taking a look at the company's dividend growth, its current annualized dividend of $0.6 is up 7.14% from last year.
Currently paying a dividend of 0.4 per share, Legg Mason (LM) has a dividend yield of 4.15%. This is compared to the Financial - Investment Management industry's yield of 2.3% and the S&P 500's current yield. Looking at dividend growth, the company's current annualized dividend of $1.6 is up 17.65% from last year.
But aren't stocks generally more risky than bonds?
It is true that stocks, as an asset class, carry more risk than bonds, but high-quality dividend stocks not only have the ability to produce income growth over time but more importantly, can also reduce your overall portfolio volatility relative to the broader stock market.
Combating the impact of inflation is one advantage of owning these dividend-paying stocks. Here's why: many of these stable, high-quality companies increase their dividends over time, which translates to rising dividend income that offsets the effects of inflation.
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.
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:
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Greif, Inc. (GEF) : Free Stock Analysis Report
Huntington Bancshares Incorporated (HBAN) : Free Stock Analysis Report
Legg Mason, Inc. (LM) : Free Stock Analysis Report
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