Sunday, April 22, 2018

How Investing in Annuities Can Better Set You up for Retirement

In the world of retirement and estate planning, annuities seldom get the recognition they deserve. When set up and funded correctly, annuities can be a very sensible strategy for individuals heading into retirement. 

These insurance contracts share very few similarities with 401(k) plans and individual retirement accounts, but they are certainly worth considering. Here are four things you should know about annuities and retirement:

How to Understand Annuities

In essence, annuities are insurance policies that promise future payouts. One of the main differences between annuities and a homeowner’s insurance policy, for example, is that the payout is not contingent upon loss. 

You can purchase an annuity now with the full expectation of payouts later in life; you do not have to suffer a loss. The money you will receive in the future is agreed upon, and it may consist of a lump sum payment or periodic disbursements.

Advantages of Annuities

Unlike investment funds, annuities do not present future windfall scenarios tied to the potential performance of financial securities. While it is true that individuals who invested in 401(k) plans tied to the S&P 500 since 2010 have realized handsome gains, this is never guaranteed. 

Annuities are part of a more conservative type of financial planning. The goal of annuities is to generate future income after you retire. During bull market runs, an IRA plan will grow in value and allow you to make nice withdrawals; however, the opposite will happen in bear market conditions. 

Depending on how you structure your annuities, you will be able to enjoy greater certainty of your retirement income.

How to Buy Annuities

Since annuities are a mix of investment securities and insurance contracts, they can be purchased from banks, brokers, financial planners, and insurance agencies. Your best best is to purchase annuities from your financial planners. 

Annuities are marketable financial instruments, which means that you can sell them when the time is right, but certain fees and penalties may apply.

Types of Annuities Available to You

There are three main types of annuities: fixed, indexed and variable. The latter is regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission while the former two are regulated by the insurance commissioner of your state. 

As its name suggests, you a fixed annuity guarantees a fixed amount of payouts for a declared period. An indexed annuity is tied to the performance of financial benchmarks such as the Dow Jones Industrial Average. 

With a variable annuity, you can choose to grow your money in various mutual funds, but the amount of your payouts may fluctuate.

In the end, you should strongly consider including annuities in your portfolio. As with other retirement planning strategies, setting up annuities at an early age is highly recommended.

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