Dividend-paying stocks are not just for your parents or grandparents. Yes, they're terrific at generating critical income in retirement, but they can also serve younger investors well, regularly plumping up investment accounts with additional dollars that can be invested in more shares of stock.

Here's a look at three promising dividend-paying stocks to consider for your portfolio.

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1. AT&T

AT&T (NYSE:T) is certainly a very familiar name and also an impressive dividend payer, with its recent yield of a whopping 6.6%. That payout hasn't been growing very briskly -- it has increased by about a penny a year for more than a decade now -- but if you start with a 6.6% yield, growth isn't that important.

It is important that any company you invest in is healthy and growing, though -- or at least that it has solid growth potential. AT&T has plenty of potential, but it has some headwinds, too. For one thing, it's saddled with lots of debt, and some are suggesting it might do well to suspend, reduce, or eliminate its dividend (which costs it more than $14 billion annually) in order to focus its cash on more pressing matters. The company has taken some action on this front, though, by not increasing its payout for more than a year, ending a 36-year history of annual increases.

Another albatross for AT&T has been its DIRECTV division, which has been losing subscribers for years, as consumers have been favoring streaming services. AT&T had trouble unloading it and has recently cut a deal to spin it off into a new company, retaining a 70% ownership position, with private equity firm TPG holding a minority position.

Meanwhile, the telecom giant's recent first-quarter earnings report was solid, suggesting that the company has much brighter days ahead. It announced "solid wireless, fiber and HBO Max subscriber gains with continuing strong cash flows," and CEO John Stankey added, "We continued to excel in growing customer relationships in our market focus areas of mobility, fiber and HBO Max."

2.  Altria

Altria (NYSE:MO) is a stock that may not be for everyone, but if you'd be happy with a 7.3% dividend yield and don't mind that those dollars come largely from tobacco sales, give it some consideration. Like AT&T, part of the reason the stock's yield is so high is because the shares have been depressed in recent years over worries about the companies' futures. While there are signs that AT&T may be turning the corner, many still view Altria skeptically, as smoking is less of a growth industry than it used to be in the U.S.

Altria saw the writing on the wall, though, and paid a princely sum for a stake in the Juul vaping business. That didn't turn out as planned and has led to some hefty writedowns, but vaping is growing and the investment might end up paying off more than currently expected.

Meanwhile, CEO Billy Gifford notes that, "Our 10-Year Vision is to responsibly lead the transition of adult smokers to a non-combustible future." Altria's non-combustible irons in the fire include oral tobacco, electronic vaporizers, and heated tobacco systems. It also holds a majority stake in on! Nicotine pouches.

Altria's first-quarter results will be released in late April, but the company ended its fiscal 2020 year reasonably well, with revenue and earnings up. Another way to boost its stock price is via share buybacks, and it announced a $2 billion buyback plan.

Altria may not serve you well for decades, but it looks like it could for at least a few years, during which time it will pay a fat dividend. Just keep your eye on the company and the payout, and consider bailing if it seems to head in the wrong direction or starts facing insurmountable challenges. One current concern, for example, is the possibility of regulations restricting nicotine levels.

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3. Broadmark Realty Capital

Broadmark Realty Capital (NYSE:BRMK) is a real estate investment trust (REIT), which means it's required to pay out at least 90% of its earnings as dividends (in exchange for certain tax breaks). More specifically, it's a mortgage REIT, or "mREIT," focusing on lending to the construction industry, especially to builders.

Unlike many other lenders, which lend out a lot of money they themselves have borrowed, Broadmark plays it more conservatively, avoiding debt of its own. Also unlike many mortgage lenders, its loans are generally short term, as builders only need to borrow until they finish building and then sell their properties. It also charges higher interest rates than those associated with regular mortgages -- often more than 10%. And its customers pay, often returning for more loans.

What kind of dividend yield does Broadmark offer? It pays out monthly instead of the more typical quarterly dividend, and it recently yielded a whopping 7.9%. While Altria, and to a lesser extent IBM, are working through some headwinds, Broadmark's business appears more stable -- and with a generous payout. Give it a closer look if you're interested.

These are just three of many appealing dividend-paying stocks out there. You may want to add shares of one or more to your portfolio -- or seek other dividend payers that appeal to you more. Just be sure to consider keeping a portion of your portfolio in dividend-paying stocks, for income now or in retirement.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.