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.
The tried - and - true retirement investing approach of yesterday doesn't work today.
For example, 10-year Treasury bonds in the late 1990s offered a yield of around 6.50%, which translated to an income source you could count on. However, today's yield is much lower - currently under 2% and probably not a viable return option to fund typical retirements.
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.
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.
Eaton Vance (EV) is currently shelling out a dividend of $0.38 per share, with a dividend yield of 3.12%. This compares to the Financial - Investment Management industry's yield of 2.35% and the S&P 500's yield of 1.83%. In terms of dividend growth, the company's current annualized dividend of $1.5 is up 12.9% from last year.
Legg Mason (LM) is paying out a dividend of 0.4 per share at the moment, with a dividend yield of 4.18% compared to the Financial - Investment Management industry's yield of 2.35% and the S&P 500's yield. Taking a look at the company's dividend growth, its current annualized dividend of $1.6 is up 17.65% from last year.
Currently paying a dividend of 0.16 per share, Magic Software (MGIC) has a dividend yield of 3.04%. This is compared to the Computer - Software industry's yield of 0% and the S&P 500's current yield. Looking at dividend growth, the company's current annualized dividend of $0.31 is up 0.65% 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.
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.
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
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Eaton Vance Corporation (EV): Free Stock Analysis Report
Magic Software Enterprises Ltd. (MGIC): Free Stock Analysis Report
Legg Mason, Inc. (LM): Free Stock Analysis Report
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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.