The ability to retire comfortably is all about creating enough income to live on without depleting your nest egg. However, that's an "easier said than done" statement.
So what's the best way for you to boost your retirement income? Here are three suggestions from our experts that could help you do just that.
If you're looking for income in retirement, a classic source of that is dividends. Dividend income may not be as guaranteed as bond or CD interest, but these days, it can easily deliver far more than those alternatives' interest rates. And while not guaranteed, many dividend payouts are exceedingly reliable. Even better, dividends from healthy, growing companies tend to be increased over time, while the stock price should grow in tandem.
For safe and steady dividend income, seek out companies that:
- Pay reasonably generous dividends, such as 2.5% or more.
- Have a track record of hiking their payouts regularly.
- Have low payout ratios -- no more than 80%.
- Are stable, growing, and easy for you to understand.
That last point is important because many investors don't have the time or inclination to monitor all their investments closely. For these investors, it's better to invest in dependable, established companies. For example, the following companies are unlikely to implode in the next decade or two: Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO), recently yielding 3%; PepsiCo (NASDAQ:PEP), yielding 2.7%; General Electric (NYSE:GE), yielding 3.7%; and Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG), yielding 3%.
If you're willing to keep a closer eye on your holdings, consider some companies that have great near-term outlooks but less certain long-term prospects, such as Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), yielding 1.6%; AT&T (NYSE:T), yielding 5.4%; Verizon (NYSE:VZ), yielding 4.5%; and Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX), yielding 1.4%.
And for the least amount of thought and effort -- and, arguably, the least risk -- opt for a dividend-focused ETF, such as the iShares Select Dividend ETF (NASDAQ:DVY). This exchange-traded fund will invest you in about 100 U.S. stocks that have paid substantial dividends for at least five years.
If you enter retirement with, say, $300,000 in dividend-paying stocks that average a yield of 3.2%, you'll collect $9,600 per year, which can make a big difference in your lifestyle. Just remember that dividends are not guaranteed. So keep up with your companies enough to be assured that they're still healthy and performing well.
One often-misunderstood way to boost your retirement income is to consider annuity products. Annuities come in many different varieties; some resemble stock mutual funds, while others look more like fixed-income investments. In general, annuities have an unfavorable reputation because of the high fees many insurance companies charge for them.
A couple of types of annuities, though, can really help you generate predictable income in retirement.
The immediate annuity takes an up-front lump-sum payment and turns it into monthly income for life, with options to pay a surviving spouse or other family member after your death.
A deferred-income annuity, also known as longevity insurance, is structured differently, as it doesn't start making payments until you reach a fixed age in the future. The benefit of the deferred-income annuity is that its monthly payments are much larger. In exchange, though, you run the risk of never receiving payments at all if you don't live beyond the age at which the annuity starts paying out.
Unfortunately, low interest rates have made the payouts on these annuities relatively low compared to your up-front investment. Yet for those who want predictable and reliable income, these two types of annuities are at least worth considering for a part of your retirement savings.
One fool-proof way to get more income in retirement is to get a part-time job.
While many people believe retirement means the end of work, retirement is more of an opportunity to focus on what you want to be doing, rather than what you have to do to get by. There are also many benefits other than the extra income. A study of retirees from Merrill Lynch and Age Wave titled "Work in Retirement: Myths and Motivations" found many benefits to working in retirement.
Of those who have made the jump to working in retirement, 80% work in retirement because they want to, while only 20% work because they have to. Here are some of the many reasons retirees cite for working in retirement (respondents could select multiple reasons):
- 60% say they work to stay mentally active.
- 45% say they work to stay physically active.
- 40% say they work for the social connections.
- 36% say they work for the sense of identity/self-worth.
- 30% say they work to have new challenges.
Just 30% say they do it for the money, which is remarkable. Compared to work before retirement, the same respondents found that work in retirement is:
- More flexible (80%)
- More fun (53%)
- More fulfilling (36%)
- Less boring (58%)
- Less stressful (76%)
The study also found that compared to those who don't work, working retirees felt prouder, more connected to others, and more stimulated than non-working retirees.
While you may be wondering what jobs are out there, there are tons of low-stress, part-time jobs available that play to your strengths and passions -- volunteering, giving tours at a museum, working as an usher at professional sports games, being a crossing guard, and so on. In addition to extra income, these jobs can provide social connections and a sense of purpose, making your days happier and more meaningful.