Category Archives: Annuities

Fill Up Your Buckets for a Stream of Retirement Income

Fill Up Your Buckets for a Stream of Retirement Income

If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a million times: when it comes to retirement planning, diversification is key. Everyone knows how important it is to build up a healthy nest egg—but if you put all your eggs in one basket, you are putting your financial well-being at risk.

Look at it this way: if you throw all of your funds in one investment or market sector, what happens if that sector takes a nosedive? Your retirement savings will go down the tubes right along with it. However, if you spread your investment funds across a variety of different assets, you will greatly decrease your risk.

So, how can you possibly protect yourself from financial devastation and still save up plenty of funds for a comfortable, happy retirement? Simple. It’s time to fill up your buckets!

The art of bucket planning

As Americans are living increasingly longer lives, one of the greatest risks today’s retirees face is the possibility of outliving their income. That’s why financial experts recommend that retirees adopt what’s called “bucket planning.”

Bucket planning is the act of spreading money across various pools income to ensure you have a lifetime stream of income. This strategy is growing increasingly popular in the retirement planning field. As a matter of fact, approximately 52 percent of financial advisors recommend the bucket planning method to their clients, according to Gallant Distribution Consulting.

Collect your buckets

There are a few different bucket planning methods. Some financial advisors recommend three buckets while others say you should fill up four. However, the most basic bucket planning strategy includes the following three pails:

Bucket #1: This bucket holds into low-risk investments, such as short-term Treasury bonds. This pool provides a stream income for the first five to seven years of your retirement.

Bucket #2: This pail should be filled with indexed annuities, which offer guaranteed income with an upside potential if the markets do well. This bucket will provide income for years 8 through 15 of your retirement.

Bucket #3: This is the bucket for long-term investments that will provide a guaranteed stream of income in your later years.

Another version of bucket planning includes investing in three or four different fixed or fixed indexed annuities, each which has a unique set of terms and benefits.

In either strategy, each bucket represents a different stage in your retirement. The primary objective of your first two or three buckets is to create an annual income stream during your first 15 years of retirement. When those 15 years are up, the last bucket still holds plenty of guaranteed annual income that will last throughout your lifetime. Because you have a bucket of income set up for each retirement phase, your cash flow will never run dry.

An endless stream of income

Bucket planning has skyrocketed in popularity because it can create an endless stream of income that you won’t outlive. If you set up your buckets properly, you won’t lose money, you’ll always be accumulating money and you’ll always have a guaranteed stream of income. That means you’ll live a comfortable and financially stable retirement without having to worry about outliving your assets.

In other words, if you fill up your buckets, you won’t run out of money before you—well—kick the bucket.

Liquidated earnings are subject to ordinary income tax, may be subject to surrender charges and, if taken prior to age 59 1⁄2, may be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty.

Guarantees and payment of lifetime income are contingent on the claims paying ability of the issuing insurance company.

Immediate Annuities Can Help You Secure Your Retirement Income

Immediate Annuities Can Help You Secure Your Retirement Income

As you approach retirement, it’s natural to worry about your retirement portfolio. It is also natural to become frightened during a recession, such as the ongoing downturn that started in 2008. During tough times, your entire strategy can suddenly become worthless. The supply of cash that you have carefully built up over your working life is gone, vanished like so much dust. This is downright scary. What shall you do? Many individuals in this same situation end up taking part-time jobs in order to support themselves.

An immediate annuity can help you regain liquidity. Buying an annuity is like buying a monthly pension check. It is an insurance policy that pays you a lifelong income stream in exchange for a lump sum. There is no age limit for purchasing an immediate annuity; you can buy one at 80 or 90 if you want to. When the payments start is entirely up to you. Once you decide on a date, the payments are orderly and on time, appearing on that date every month for the rest of your life.

Consider several advantages to immediate annuities:

  • Your insurance agent will be able to tell you what the monthly payment amount is based on your lump sum.
  • The annuity is backed by the financial security and assets of an insurance company, so do your research before buying.
  • This product affords you, the beneficiary immediate peace of mind since the payments start when you choose. You can rest completely assured of a secure, stable long-term monthly income. You can even add an inflation rider to the policy so that your income will not get eaten by inflationary pressures.
  • Since immediate annuities are different from stocks and bonds, there is no worry about volatility or market fluctuations. The value of the annuity remains constant. You have the protection of knowing that every month, the money will be deposited into your bank account.
  • There are no fees of any kind to be paid – no management fees, no setup or administrative fees, and no annual fees.
  • Favorable tax treatment – Only a small portion of income generated from an immediate annuity funded with after-tax dollars would be taxable.  This is because part of every payment is considered a return of principal.

Is an immediate annuity right for you? That depends on your unique needs of course. For those seeking to secure a future income stream, immediate annuities are a perfect way of achieving a guaranteed monthly income which will not fluctuate due to external forces. The peace of mind possible with having an income stream one cannot outlive should not be ignored.

Liquidated earnings are subject to ordinary income tax, may be subject to surrender charges and, if taken prior to age 59 1⁄2, may be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty.

Guarantees and payment of lifetime income are contingent on the claims paying ability of the issuing insurance company.

CDs vs. Annuities: Where Should You Invest Your Money?

CDs vs. Annuities: Where Should You Invest Your Money?

If you’re quickly approaching retirement, you’re probably asking yourself an all-too-common question: should I invest in a bank CD or an annuity? You’re not alone. Consumers across the nation are struggling with the same dilemma. The first step in making this important decision is to understand the differences between these two products.

Annuities and CDs (short for bank certificates of deposit) might appear to be very similar at first glance. Both are secure, low risk investments that are designed to help you accumulate wealth. However, these two types of investments are actually very different products.

First of all, CDs are generally issued by banks while annuities are offered by insurance companies. Secondly, a CD is typically a better investment for short-term goals, such as a down payment on a new home or car, while an annuity is a better choice for longer term goals, like generating a lifetime stream of retirement income.

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you weigh the differences between CDs and annuities:

CD interest rates are uncertain

Interest rates have plummeted in recent months. While that’s a great thing for homebuyers, it translates into lower returns on bank savings. Right now, one-year CDs often pay 1.5 percent or less—a huge drop from a couple of years ago when CDs paid more than 3 percent.

The future is uncertain for CD interest rates. Your rate on a CD may be higher or lower a year from now—it’s too hard to predict. So, if you’re looking to maintain a certain retirement income level, a CD may not be the best bet.

Guaranteed rates with fixed annuities

Fixed annuities offer a guaranteed minimum. This ensures that your investment will not drop below the minimum performance. When interest rates drop, so do returns on CDs. But fixed annuity returns never fall below a certain point. Therefore, if you hold a fixed annuity until maturity, you are guaranteed to earn a minimum stated rate of interest regardless of what happens to interest rates or stock market indexes. Because fixed annuities are lower risk, conservative investments, they are often ideal for retirees or soon-to-be retires.

Fixed annuities offer incredible tax advantages

With CDs, you must pay taxes annually on the interest earned even if you haven’t withdrawn any money. Alternatively, fixed annuity earnings are tax-deferred. You only pay taxes on interest earned when you withdraw money from the annuity. This means that you end up earning an increasing amount of money with fixed annuities because the deferred tax on your interest remains in the investment instead of being paid out to state and federal taxes each year.

CDs aren’t as flexible

Fixed annuities also offer more flexibility than CDs. With a CD, you cannot remove any money before the term is over without incurring an early withdrawal penalty. Although fixed annuities also have early withdrawal penalties known as surrender charges, they include provisions that typically allow you to withdraw 10% of your investment value each year without penalties. Additionally, with many fixed annuities, you can withdraw the earned interest on your investment each month.

Some fixed annuities offer you access to the sum total of your investment funds in the event of a financial hardship. For example, you may be allowed to withdraw from your fixed annuity penalty free if you are hospitalized, develop a life-threatening illness or are forced to live in a nursing home for an extended length of time. With a fixed annuity, you can also choose an option to receive a predetermined amount of income from the investment over a fixed time period, such as five or ten years. This option offers enhanced income security while spreading out any taxes that your earnings might incur over many years.

Annuities are extremely safe

While CDs are issued by banks, annuities are issued by insurance companies. As compared to banks and brokerage firms, insurance companies have a historical record of stability. This is largely because insurance companies offer conservative investment options that carry very little risk.

Just think: insurance companies have survived times of war, global depressions, government failures, industry scandals and disastrous stock market plunges. However, in even the worst of times, Americans have been able to safely insure their homes, health, life, cars and businesses.

Survey says…

All things considered, fixed annuities are a solid option for retirement-focused investors. These superior, reliable investments can provide higher returns, tax advantages and enhanced flexibility, all while providing safety and security. Not to mention that fixed annuities can generate a guaranteed stream of income.

Talk to Brian Gruss today about whether a fixed annuity is right for you.

Liquidated earnings are subject to ordinary income tax, may be subject to surrender charges and, if taken prior to age 59 1⁄2, may be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty.

Guarantees and payment of lifetime income are contingent on the claims paying ability of the issuing insurance company.

Create Your own Pension with a Fixed Annuity

Create Your Own Pension with a Fixed Annuity

Remember when pensions were part of every job and every retiree had one? Pensions were great; they paid the pensioner a fixed sum each month for his or her entire life and in most cases, at least a portion was paid to the surviving spouse at death. While pensions may be a thing of the past, the concept of a qualified retirement benefit that pays a guaranteed monthly amount for life is not. Instead of a company pension, they now take the form of self-funded immediate fixed annuities.

Immediate fixed annuities may as well be a distant cousin to pensions in the way that they provide and guarantee a retirement benefit. Some of the similarities include:

  • A guaranteed monthly payment for the life of the annuitant, regardless of the actual growth of the underlying principal.
  • Optional death benefit for surviving spouse – for a smaller monthly payout, if the annuitant dies before he or she has received enough payments to equal a return of principal, their beneficiaries will continuing receiving funds.
  • Annuities, like pensions, offer a low-risk, guaranteed return. While this return may not be as substantial as that of more high risk investments, it is perfect for conservative retirement planning.

While many aspects of the two retirement benefits are similar there are also many differences. The most important difference between the two is that an annuity is self-funded whereas a traditional pension is funded by the pensioner’s employer. This difference introduces a number of considerations that you must make before you buy an annuity-considerations that would not matter in an employer-sponsored plan, like:

  • Because annuities guarantee you a certain payout based on the original contribution, you generally can’t remove additional funds after you’ve purchased the annuity. That means that if you put your life’s savings into an immediate annuity you may no longer have access to the funds in the event of an emergency. Now there are some newer products on the market that do offer increased access to funds, but you usually give up something in return such as a lower monthly payout.
  • If you do have access to the funds and you remove a lump sum there will be surrender charges imposed. This could not only negate any interest growth you’ve experienced but could cut into your principal and will reduce the monthly income paid out by the annuity.
  • Your heirs will generally not inherit any of the remaining annuity value after your death. While this may not be a concern in an employer-sponsored pension, it should be considered when making a contribution to a straight life immediate annuity.

If the concept of an annuity for funding retirement benefits appeals to you talk then call me today about the many flexible annuity products available. You may find that while a straight life immediate annuity does not fit your needs, a joint and last survivor or period certain annuity does.

Liquidated earnings are subject to ordinary income tax, may be subject to surrender charges and, if taken prior to age 59 1/2, may be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty.

Guarantees and payment of lifetime income are contingent on the claims paying ability of the issuing insurance company.

CD vs. Tax deferred annuity

Let’s take a apples to apples approach at looking at some of the differences between a CD (Certificate of Deposit) and a annuity.

CD’s have immediate tax liabilities,; this creates the need for a higher rate of return

With a fixed annuities, you will eventually have to pay taxes on the money you withdraw.  However, as the numbers below shows, fixed annuities require a much lower interest rate to generate the same return as a CD.

For example, if your income places you in the 28% tax bracket and you purchase a tax-deferred fixed annuity with a guaranteed interest rate of 4.25 percern, you’d need a CD with an interest rate of more than 5.9 percent to outperform the annuity.

Now let’s say that your income places you in the 25 percent tax bracket and you purchased a fixed annuity with a guaranteed interest rate of 3.5 percent, you would need to purchase a CD with an interest rate of more than 4.67 percent to outperform the annuity.

If your CD’s are not performing like you would like them to, let’s talk about how annuity might be able to help you out.  I offer annuities through multiple carriers and ranging in years from 2-14.

Oh and with most annuities unlike most CD’s you can withdraw a portion of the annuity without any penalties from the carrier.

Retirement Planning: The Advantages of Fixed Annuities

Retirement Planning: The Advantages of Fixed Annuities

A fixed annuity is a contractual obligation rendered by an insurance company with a pledge to disburse income to a recipient based on a fixed return on investment. Therefore, they are ways for the holders of such instruments to be guaranteed future dividends or a source of income. That’s why, when selecting from the variety of annuities available, annuities are a logical choice to make for retirement planning.

Fixed annuities have a rate of return or ROI that is equal to the rate of return of the market. Therefore, they offer a lower risk to the consumer and, as a result, more financial security. Comparatively, variable annuities incur more risk for the consumer. Variable annuities typically glean a higher return rate although the holder of these types of instruments is also more vulnerable financially. Therefore a greater risk is supplied. Subject to market rates, you can possibly lose a portion of what you invest.

On the other hand, fixed annuities offer the convenience and comfort associated with a lower-risk instrument. The holder of the annuity simply opts for a lower rate of return. You might say a fixed annuity can be likened to a CD, except you realize a far greater return on your investment because your money is committed for a far longer period of time.

Investing in fixed annuities is financially sound from a tax standpoint as all deposited funds in such annuities are tax-deferred until which time you decide to receive income from the annuity. At that time, taxes are taken out only on the income growth, thereby making these types of annuities ideal for retirement planning.

Because of the tax advantage, these products are used primarily for long-term planning purposes. In other words, income cannot be collected from the annuity prematurely, which means before the age of 59 ½, as the holder can be assessed taxes, fees, and penalties. Also, surrender charges are imposed if you choose to cash in your annuity before the specified time. The charges can be excessive so one should consider them for long-term investment purposes only.

If you are truly serious about planning for retirement and are someone who needs a financial product that provides a minimal amount of risk, a fixed annuity may well be worth your consideration.

Take time out to contemplate all the pros and cons of owning such an instrument. For retirement planning purposes though, fixed annuities are ideal because, as previously stated, they offer a tax advantage for the consumer.

Additionally, the opportunity to invest in other enterprises is increased because of the annuity’s tax benefits. You can become prosperous with your short-term investments while investing in a solid financial product in order to secure your future income needs.

In summation, fixed annuities provide the kind of financial security you need now to realize monetary growth in other areas, and the assurance that you will be provided an adequate future return on your investment.