Allocate Retirement Savings
Want to augment your retirement savings with a steady stream of income? You might want to consider devoting a portion of your savings into an annuity.
An annuity is a contract between you and an insurance company. You can make either a lump-sum payment or a series of payments. In return, you receive regular disbursements either within a month or at some time in the future. There are different types of annuities, but all fall under the two major categories: Deferred and Immediate.
With an Immediate Annuity, you can start receiving your payments within 30 days after your initial investment. A Deferred Annuity is different, however. Your money is invested for a period of time until you are ready to start receiving disbursements. Most deferred annuities are associated with retirement income. You can invest a lump sum or build up funds over time by contributing on a monthly basis. This way, you can then “annuitize” or convert, that amount into an income stream.
Many people ask whether it’s important to allocate their retirement savings into an annuity. Unless you opt to live an incredibly frugal lifestyle, it’s likely that you’ll need an annuity to meet your retirement income goals. Read on for why.
Why Do I Need An Annuity To Supplement My Retirement Savings?
The dream of every retiree is to maximize their lifetime income and reduce the risk of running out of money. First, define your preferred asset allocation. Think about how much to invest in stocks and bonds, and leave room for adjustments. The changes might involve taking a portion of your portfolio and investing in a Deferred Annuity.
Instead of retaining a portfolio mix of 40% stock and 60% bonds, you can adjust it to create room for Index annuities. Consider a portfolio comprised of 50-60% stocks/mutual funds, 30% Index Annuity, and then the difference in cash. Annuities are attractive to many investors because they provide a way to build tax-deferred savings. They also reduce the risk of running out of money by generating a steady flow of income.
Annuities Protect Your Retirement Savings
Just like a portfolio of stocks and bonds, annuities have the characteristics of standard investments. What sets them apart? Annuities come with insurance features. They help you reduce or transfer the risk of investing part of your portfolio to an insurer. Consequently, allocating some of your money to an annuity offers some insulation from the uncertainties surrounding the stock market.
Your primary goal is to have a guaranteed stream of income (more than what Social Security alone can provide) in retirement. Consider allocating some of your savings to an annuity. Research shows that investors who have an annuity tend to be happier in retirement. Annuities are a guaranteed pension-like income supply.
Do be careful when selecting your annuity. Some annuities come with high fees. These can cut your returns in the long run. Others charge penalties for early withdrawals and most of them are damn complicated.
How Much Of My Retirement Savings Should I Allocate To An Annuity?
No rule will tell you the percentage of one’s savings that should be put into an annuity.
Even if such a rule existed, you wouldn’t be obliged to follow it. The amount to save is based on a strategy tailored to your financial goals. To come up with such a strategy, you will first need to know how much your living expenses will be during retirement.
Start by drafting a retirement budget. There are some online tools such as BlackRocks Retirement Expense Worksheet. You can use this to estimate what your retirement expenses will approximately be.
Next, determine how much of your expenses can be paid from your pension and Social Security. Say your pension and Social Security payments are enough to meet all of your retirement expenses. You may not need additional income from an annuity. The withdrawals from your nest egg should be enough to cater for all your living expenses.
However, if you find a huge gap between your living expenses and what pensions and Social Security will pay, then you should consider devoting some of your savings to an annuity. You can use this retirement income calculator from T. Rowe Price to gauge how long your income might last at different withdrawal rates.
What Kind Of Annuity Is Best For Me
If you decide to allocate some of your savings to an annuity, the next question that needs solving is whether to invest in a fixed or a variable annuity.
With fixed annuities, the backing insurance company agrees to pay the investor a fixed rate of interest for the first year. Thereafter, the company can raise or lower the rate but not below a guaranteed minimum. Better even, fixed annuity interest is not taxed until you withdraw the money. Should you choose to withdraw the interest earnings before age 59 1/2, you will pay not only the tax but also a 10% penalty. Upon reaching the age of 59 1/2, you can withdraw 10% of the fixed annuity amount without any penalty. Any withdrawal above 10% of the account’s value could result in a surrender charge payable to the insurance company.
A variable annuity, on the other hand, works like a mutual fund. You can invest in multiple ‘subaccounts’ which can own stocks or a combination of mutual funds and bonds. Unlike fixed annuities, variable annuities have no guaranteed returns because the principal is invested in multiple subaccounts comprising mainly of mutual funds and money market instruments.
Therefore, you get to decide how you want your premiums invested as well as how much risk you are willing to take.
It’s also important to note that subaccount values fluctuate with changes in market conditions. This means that with variable annuities, the principal may be worth less or more than the original amount invested. If you are wary of market fluctuations, you might consider investing in fixed annuities as you can never lose the principal (guaranteed) unless the insurance company fails.
Annuities Can Supplement Your Retirement Savings With Income For Life
Note that the amount you get depends on many factors such as age, the amount you invest, and interest rates.
Despite all their benefits, it’s important first to weigh all the pros and cons to determine whether annuities are your best investment options.
Before investing, it’s advisable to take the advice of an unbiased professional who knows the pros and cons of annuities and other financial instruments.
Contact us if you have any questions or need retirement savings advice.