Strange but true: seniors fear death less than running out of money in retirement.
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 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.
That means if you had $1 million in 10-year Treasuries, the difference in yield between 1999 and today is more than $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.
A rule of thumb for finding solid income-producing stocks is to seek those that average 3% dividend yield, and positive yearly dividend growth. These stocks can help combat inflation by boosting dividends over time.
Here are three dividend-paying stocks retirees should consider for their nest egg portfolio.
General Mills (GIS) is currently shelling out a dividend of $0.49 per share, with a dividend yield of 3.66%. This compares to the Food – Miscellaneous industry’s yield of 0.26% and the S&P 500’s yield of 1.81%. In terms of dividend growth, the company’s current annualized dividend of $1.96 is flat compared to last year.
Piedmont Office (PDM) is paying out a dividend of 0.21 per share at the moment, with a dividend yield of 3.75% compared to the REIT and Equity Trust – Other industry’s yield of 4.15% and the S&P 500’s yield. Taking a look at the company’s dividend growth, its current annualized dividend of $0.84 is flat compared to last year.
Currently paying a dividend of 0.9 per share, Ryman Hospitality Properties (RHP) has a dividend yield of 3.93%. This is compared to the REIT and Equity Trust – Other industry’s yield of 4.15% and the S&P 500’s current yield. Looking at dividend growth, the company’s current annualized dividend of $3.6 is up 5.88% from last year.
But aren’t stocks generally more risky than bonds?
Yes, that’s true. As a broad category, bonds carry less risk than stocks. However, the stocks we are talking about – dividend -paying stocks from high-quality companies – can generate income over time and also mitigate the overall volatility of your portfolio compared to the stock market as a whole.
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 thinking, “I want to invest in a dividend-focused ETF or mutual fund,” make sure to do your homework. It’s important to know that some mutual funds and specialized ETFs charge high fees, which may diminish your dividend gains or income and thwart the overall objective of this investment strategy. If you do want to invest in fund, research well to identify the best-quality dividend funds with the least charges.
Whether you select high-quality, low-fee funds or stocks, seeking the steady income of dividend-paying equities can potentially offer you a path to a better and more stress-free 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.