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Retirement Planning Blog

in Annuity
on 25 March, 2020

retirement annuity is retirement annuities right for you

In times of wild market swings and low-interest rates from Treasurys, CDs, and other fixed-interest assets, annuities can bring a sense of calm and predictability to a portfolio. Many people refer to annuities as "retirement annuities," because they are particularly well-designed for retirement goals.

Annuities are the only instrument capable of paying you a guaranteed income stream for as long as you live. No other instrument on the planet offers this.

You can think of this in terms of a monthly paycheck or money for life. You will receive a check in the mail from the life insurance company that you can count on, again and again, for the rest of your lifetime.

That is no matter how equity markets perform. Annuity income can therefore be seen as a kind of "private pension."

Speaking in an analogy, you already have your own annuity with Social Security payments. You paid into Social Security's coffers during your career. Then, when retired, you receive a monthly income that pays you like clockwork.

Annuities work in much the same way. They can be a great supplement to the assured income you will receive from your Social Security payouts.

Depending upon your overall goals, annuities can also help you reach your objectives with other contract features as well. Here's a look at why retirement annuities can bring predictability to your lifestyle and stability to your portfolio.

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on 20 February, 2020

watch your debt as you plan for retirement

Tune into a financial show on TV or the radio dial, and chances are you have heard it.

The retirement income shortfall among Americans has been a hot topic in the financial advisory community for a long time now. But, surprisingly, what hasn’t received as much attention is the issue of carrying debt into retirement.

It’s a serious matter. More retirees are carrying larger amounts of debt into their non-working years than ever before.. With its rapid pace of growth, this trend is threatening to further disrupt the retirement plans of many seniors.

According to blogger Chris Farrell, the median total consumer debt for retiree-led households (age 65+) was $31,300 in 2016.

That was 250% more than it was in 2001 ($12,250) and nearly 450% more than the level in 1989 ($7,250). Some 60% of senior households carried some of debt, up from 42% in 1992.

Other studies have similar findings. According to one study by researchers at the Ohio State University, among households ages 55-70, some 75% of households had some sort of debt load. That is up from 64% of households in 1989.

As Farrell mentioned on a podcast with NextAvenue: "Over the past ten years -- since the financial crisis -- one thing that is really striking is how much debt consumers have taken on, particularly in the past couple of years. And people over 60 are increasingly comfortable taking on debt."

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on 18 March, 2020

average bear market coronavirus img

If you have any money in the market, chances are you have heard of recent slumps in U.S. market indexes.

From February 21st to February 28th, the Dow Jones Industrial Average index fell 12.4%. That drop was quickly followed by a couple of record setters in March. The worst drop in three decades came on March 13th.

The Dow fell 10%, its then-worst decline since the 1987 Black Monday market crash. Then, on March 16th, the market indexes had another record-setting drop. The Dow fell 12.9% and the S&P 500 declined 12% in one day, respectively.

On the whole, investor concerns over the novel coronavirus and the oil supply feud between Russia and Saudi Arabia have sent global financial markets into a tailspin. For those on the cusp of retirement, the timing couldn't be worse.

Of course, every market is different. As a result, no one can be 100% sure of what will happen next. Even so, what might retirement investors face in the near future?

The decline has actually taken us into bear territory, which is typically defined a market drop of 20% or greater.

But as Peter Oppenheimer, chief global equity strategist at Goldman Sachs, observes, there hasn't ever been a bear market spurned by a viral outbreak.

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in Annuity
on 13 February, 2020

what are the risks with annuities in a recession

Annuities have become increasingly popular in recent years. While due to many reasons, two big ones are that annuities pay guaranteed income and provide tax-advantaged growth for your money.

The biggest advantage of their guaranteed payouts? Your income stream doesn't change with political or economic conditions, such as a recession.

The technical definition of an economic recession is two successive quarters of negative economic growth. The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) is the body that determines when the U.S. economy is going through a recessionary period.

According to research by NBER and graph data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, the United States has been through 17 recessions since 1920.

what are the risks with annuities in a recession img 2

Annuities come in all sorts of flavors, but the two primary flavors are fixed annuities and variable annuities. One type of fixed annuity, the fixed index annuity, is so popular with retirees and working-age retirement savers, it’s also worth a mention.

The biggest risk with annuities in a recession is risk of loss – or how much the money you have parked in the annuity loses value due to market conditions. Depending on the type of annuity you hold, your money might be at greater risk for loss based on how the market behaves.

Let’s go into more depth about these annuity types and how a recession affects them differently.

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on 11 March, 2020

Trump and Biden
Editor's Note: "Trump and Biden" by uwwvmzjh8 is licensed under CC PDM 1.0

“How is politics going to affect my retirement?” It’s a question that is on many retirement savers’ minds, especially as the 2020 election draws closer.

Recently, Global Atlantic Financial Group put out a survey asking people about their thoughts on the presidential election – and what it might mean for market volatility.

Many retirement investors from across the country weighed in. They talked about their expectations for market performance, election effects on their retirement, and what actions they were taking to prepare for any “spillover” from the election.

Here’s a sum-up of what Americans are thinking about the 2020 election, their retirement, and any potential changes to their financial strategy.

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in Annuity
on 05 February, 2020

annuity prices what you need to know

How is an annuity priced? And why should it matter to you? While you may be exploring an annuity for your retirement, many Americans count on fixed annuity contracts as a safeguard against today’s economic uncertainty.

In many ways, retirees and retirement savers have had a rough go in this ever-changing economic climate. Retired Americans have sought to find choices that pay sufficient regular income for their monthly household needs. Risk-averse savers also have been hit particularly hard, as interest rates still remain near historic lows.

Millions of people have found peace of mind by receiving a lifetime income stream from an annuity contract. This type of payout will guarantee someone a fixed sum of money on a regular basis for as long as he or she lives.

But how can you, the annuitant on the contract, know if you are getting a good deal on the annuity (a fair annuity price) when you buy one for your portfolio? There are several factors that enter into how a life insurance company will price its annuity payouts.

To help you receive the best “bang for your buck,” it’s good to understand how these factors can affect the pricing of annuities by insurance companies -- and the impact on the annuity payout you will receive.

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in Annuity
on 04 March, 2020

how do annuities give market protection

Sometimes the stock market can go through a rough patch. The market takes a dive, and then the near-term outlook for stocks might not be that rosy. During those times, many people go on the hunt for ways to keep their money safe.

For millions of Americans, one answer is fixed-type annuities. If you are considering annuities as a place of refuge, then this next question couldn’t be more important for you.

If you had money in a fixed annuity or a fixed index annuity and the market dropped, how much money would you lose? The answer, of course, is not even a cent due to the market falling.

One of the benefits of fixed and index annuities is their guarantee of principal protection. When you put money into a fixed index annuity, the insurance company pledges to keep your money protected from falling index values. The financial safety nets that it maintains to protect your money are indeed very strong.

Even if the market sees a swing like it did in the early 2000s or in 2008, it wouldn't matter. Your money will stay intact inside your annuity contract.

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on 31 January, 2020

retirement planning blind spot avoid this

Many working-age Americans have at least some idea of when they want to stop working and sail off into the sunset. But sometimes there can be a major gap between what we plan and what actually happens.

For many workers, one such gap is between the age at which they want to retire and the age at which you discover that you have to retire instead. A surprisingly large percentage of American workers are forced into early retirement for a variety of reasons. Those reasons include job termination, layoffs, personal health issues, or a need to care for elderly parents or other relatives.

Of course, early retirement can come with its own financial headaches. You might need to begin taking Social Security early for a reduced benefit. Or you might have to deal with not having enough savings to last for the rest of your life. Whatever the challenges, it's a period of major adjustment.

Early retirement means that you will have fewer years to save for retirement. You will also have a longer period of time over which you must stretch your money.

What if you plan to work until age 65 or 70? It's wise to create a financial projection of what your retirement will look like if you had to stop working at age 55 or 60.

And don't be surprised if you run into some sort of income shortfall. Not everyone is fully prepared to retire early when forced into retirement. So, to be ready for that possible outcome, you might have to make adjustments to your plan accordingly.

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in Annuity
on 26 February, 2020

who guarantees annuities

People buy annuities for many reasons, from market protection to guaranteed income payouts. After all, an annuity is the only instrument capable of paying a guaranteed income for life. But who guarantees annuities? What sort of safeguards stand behind those guarantees?

The annuity guarantor is, of course, the life insurance company issuing the contract.

By law, life insurance companies must maintain very strict capital reserves for every dollar of fixed annuity premium. State regulators require annuity insurers to keep dollar-for-dollar reserves in coverage for every dollar of fixed annuity premium they hold.

Many life insurance companies hold reserves above this. For example, some insurers have $1.08 in reserve capital for every annuity premium dollar.

Hence, this is what financial pundits mean when they say that a life insurer's ability to make good on their annuity promises depend on that company's financial strength and claims-paying ability.

What about other safeguards if an insurance company has a liquidity problem? There are also other measures that state insurance regulators put in place as a financial safety net.

Let's get more into the details of how insurance companies' financial strength are monitored. We will also cover some of these other safety net features that help back up fixed annuity guarantees to policyholders.

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on 29 January, 2020

retirement trends in the us

Retirement today isn't the same as your grandparents' or even your parents' retirement. It's a whole new ballgame. Many trends are changing the face and length of retirement as we know it.

Retirees today face the possibility of a much longer retirement lifespan than their predecessors. They also have several issues to contend with that, for the most part, their forebears didn't have as much pressure to address. What are those issues?

Rising health costs, changing definitions of a traditional retirement, increasing costs of living. And, in the present time, an uncertain global landscape and its economic effects. All of this can make retirement tricky to navigate, let alone to enjoy a financially comfortable lifestyle.

Here are a few retirement trends that are likely to change at some point during your post-career years -- and that might affect you in the process:

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