Believe it or not, seniors fear running out of cash more than they fear dying.
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.
For many years, bonds or other fixed-income assets could produce the yield needed to provide solid income for retirement needs. However, these yields have dwindled over time: 10-year Treasury bond rates in the late 1990s were around 6.50%, but today, that rate is a thing of the past, with a slim likelihood of rates making a comeback in the foreseeable future.
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
As a replacement for low yielding Treasury bonds (and other bond options), we believe dividend-paying stocks from high quality companies offer low risk and stable, predictable income investors in retirement seek.
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.
American Eagle Outfitters (AEO) is currently shelling out a dividend of $0.14 per share, with a dividend yield of 3.33%. This compares to the Retail – Apparel and Shoes industry’s yield of 0% and the S&P 500’s yield of 1.85%. In terms of dividend growth, the company’s current annualized dividend of $0.55 is flat compared to last year.
General Mills (GIS) is paying out a dividend of 0.49 per share at the moment, with a dividend yield of 3.8% compared to the Food – Miscellaneous industry’s yield of 0.21% and the S&P 500’s yield. Taking a look at the company’s dividend growth, its current annualized dividend of $1.96 is flat compared to last year.
Currently paying a dividend of 0.4 per share, Legg Mason (LM) has a dividend yield of 4.09%. This is compared to the Financial – Investment Management industry’s yield of 2.52% 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?
The fact is that stocks, as an asset class, carry more risk than bonds. To counterbalance this, invest in superior quality dividend stocks that not only can grow over time but more significantly, can also decrease your overall portfolio volatility with respect 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.
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.
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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.