Annuity - SafeMoney.com

how does an indexed annuity differ from a variable annuity

In past decades, more people have been buying annuities. A big part of this is due to the unique features that annuities offer, such as tax-advantaged growth and contractual guarantees such as lifetime income.

Of course, many kinds of annuities are available now. Knowing what annuity is right for your situation (if indeed a good fit) can be a challenge in some cases.

If you are looking for growth, then you might look at fixed index annuities or variable annuities, as they both offer more growth potential than traditional fixed-type annuities.

But to make a confident and well-informed decision here, it helps to know how these types of annuities are alike and how they differ.

At their core, both are contracts with a life insurance company for a certain period. Where their differences lie is how their money grows, their exposure to market risk, and the fees that they carry, among other things.

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what is qualified longevity annuity contract qlac

If you have spent some time exploring your options for retirement planning, you might have heard of a qualified longevity annuity contract, or QLAC for short. But what is a QLAC? What are some reasons that folks might consider this option for their situations?

As everyone knows, people tend to have many financial concerns nowadays. Having enough retirement income is a top concern among those who have stepped back from a full-time career. Among other things, low interest rates have made it harder to generate predictable income for even just run-of-the-mill living expenses in retirement.

With low rates hitting fixed-interest options such as CDs, Treasury securities, and bonds, the challenge is figuring out how to adequately supplement other sources of predictable income, such as Social Security or a pension. No wonder, then, that surveys have found that many retirees are afraid that they might run out of money in their later years.

Since they have a monopoly on paying reliable lifetime income, annuities are one vehicle that can help fill this gap. In fact, besides Social Security, annuities are the only thing on the planet capable of paying you a guaranteed income for life.

Challenges Still Linger

But even the income from an annuity may not be enough to cover a retiree's expenses when they get into their final years, especially if they need services such as long-term care or home healthcare.

Conversely, many retirees won’t need to start taking money from their IRAs or workplace retirement plans when they turn 72 (the new age at which required minimum distributions must start). RMDs can create a tax headache for those with considerable retirement assets, and they may be an excess source of income in some cases.

Enter again a possible solution with QLACs, which can help with providing income in later years or providing some tax relief for a while regarding required minimum distributions.

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are annuities a good investment for retirement

Could annuities be a good investment for retirement? If you could have more peace of mind or your plan could be stronger from having contractual guarantees in it, such as guaranteed income for life, then it’s good to consider an annuity.

What about saving for retirement? If you are taking advantage of contributions to retirement accounts, then annuities can provide another tax-advantaged vehicle for you to build up even more retirement savings. These are just a few ways that an annuity might help you in your financial goals.

One Important Clarification

All of that being said, let’s go back to the original question: “Are annuities a good investment for retirees?” To delve fully into that, it’s important to be clear about what annuities are.

By definition, an annuity is a contract with an insurance company. In exchange for someone putting money into the annuity contract, the insurance carrier promises to uphold contractual guarantees over a certain time. This might be a contractual guarantee to pay you a lifetime income stream, for example.

Because of this use as a contract, many annuities aren’t technically an investment. Fixed-type annuities such as fixed annuities, multi-year guarantee annuities, and fixed index annuities are really fixed insurance contracts. In this regard, they are more of a risk-managing tool.

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annuity period certain

When it comes to annuities, have you ever heard of “period certain” payouts or other confusing terms? Many people use annuities for guaranteed income streams. It’s helpful to know what these terms might mean if you are thinking about an annuity for your retirement.

One of the great things about annuity contracts is how they can be structured to fit different situations. Do you want guaranteed monthly income for the rest of your life? The insurance company will pay you like clockwork, even if all of the money in your contract runs out and it’s still paying you decades later.

Or what if you want the guaranteed income to last for only a certain period? Then you have some flexibility in how long you choose to receive those payments. With help from your financial professional, you can explore different annuity payout options and see what makes sense for your needs.

Of course, some people worry about not being able to enjoy these guaranteed annuity payouts for as long as they might wish. What if something major happened and they passed away sooner in retirement than expected? They wouldn’t have a full return of the money that they had paid into the contract.

The good news is someone can choose payout options that continue payments to their loved ones should they pass away in this manner.

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principal protection img 1

Are you at or near the point of needing principal protection? Not everyone has the same psychology of investing, but many people start tapping the brakes on their tolerance for risk as they near retirement. While financial markets had some history-making moments in the 2000s, they saw never-before-swings in 2020.

Because of the economic and financial disruptions from the novel coronavirus, and resulting investor fears, the stock market had wild swings happen just in a matter of days. Beforehand, it had taken weeks or months to see such market volatility.

Such uncertainty was tough for retirees and for those who are just on the cusp of retirement. According to Pew Research, 10,000 baby boomers reach age 65 each day. That is a trend that started in 2011, and that Pew expects to go on until 2029.

In other words, this uncharted territory can have a lot at stake. If you are nearing retirement, you may be wondering about your own financial future. Perhaps you are thinking about whether you should have some principal protection for some of your retirement money?

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ken fisher should you hate annuities like him

Many know Ken Fisher as the Chairman of Fisher Investments, but you might recognize more from his 'I Hate Annuities' campaigns. From attention-grabbing TV commercials to spirited digital ads, Fisher hardly runs from controversy.

"I would rather die and go to hell than sell an annuity," he famously declares in one commercial. But does Fisher really hate annuities this much? More importantly, should you write off annuities for your retirement because of his criticisms of them?

Fisher Investments, a registered investment advisory firm, operates an annuity buyout program. In exchange for investors becoming clients of his firm, Fisher Investments will pay the surrender charges on the variable annuities which the investors are leaving.

As Jane Wollman Rusoff reported in a 2015 ThinkAdvisor interview with Ken Fisher himself:

“What Fisher likes about annuities is his annuity conversion program, which buys folks out of their annuity surrender fees if they become long-term clients. The penalties incurred to liquidate are amortized against quarterly advisory fees.”

As financial writers have noted, some might call this a sort of business contradiction. Such is a small reminder of why it always pays to do your homework when considering any financial decisions, including when considering an annuity pitch for your money.

This isn’t the only takeaway with regard to Ken Fisher and annuities – and whether his advice is accurate. Here are some other key takeaways to remember as you explore whether an annuity might make sense for your retirement.

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history of annuities

Just bring up the topic of annuities, and chances are you might have all sorts of reactions. The history of annuities shows that these guaranteed contracts have provided financial security and assurances for a long time.

Annuities didn't exactly pop up yesterday. In fact, they have been around for thousands of years, providing guaranteed income to pensioners, families, and individuals when they need it most. What’s more, their guarantees can cover more than just lifetime income.

If you are wondering if annuities make sense for your retirement goals, a quick walkthrough of their history can give a good idea of their track record.

Here’s a look at how annuities have provided crucial security, stability, and promises to millions of people across thousands of years of human history.

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what is the primary reason to buy an annuity

What is the primary reason for you and other retirees to buy an annuity? Millions of people own annuities, but exactly for what purpose? Generally, annuities can provide lifetime income, protection against risk, and long-term growth with tax advantage. They can also offer contractual guarantees for long-term care spending and death benefit proceeds.

Why you might buy an annuity will depend on your age and where you are at in your retirement-planning journey. These contracts can help you solve problems not only with guarantees in retirement, but also with saving up for later goals during your working years.

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annuity company

Millions of Americans depend on annuities for retirement saving, protection, and income. If you are considering an annuity for retirement, the right annuity contract can help make a difference in you reaching your goals. But first, you need to make sure that an annuity truly fits your financial situation and objectives.

The search starts with making sure that you have a solid insurance company issuing your annuity contract. Why is this so crucial?

How Will the Annuity Company Keep Its Promises?

As the contract issuer, the insurance company will make certain promises to you with its contractual guarantees for a period of time. In many cases, this time period often lasts for a long while. For instance, the annuity company may pay you a guaranteed income stream for the rest of your life.

While they typically offer some money access, annuities aren’t designed to be the most liquid of instruments. An annuity is a long-term commitment, so you want to be sure the insurance company that issues your contract will be around to uphold its obligations to you.

Here are a few things to keep in mind about annuity companies when exploring your annuity options from different insurers.

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should you buy an annuity at age 60

Does it make sense for you to buy an annuity at age 60? How about when in your 60s in general?

It really depends on the annuity and what it would do for you. An annuity should solve specific problems in your retirement plan and cover any gaps with its contractual guarantees.

Tens of millions of people depend on annuities and their guaranteed promises for retirement. While you may be considering an annuity while in your 60s, the ages of those who buy annuities tend to be across the board.

Some buy fixed-type annuities in their 40s so they can accumulate money alongside retirement accounts or an employer plan. Others use annuities for income in their 70s, or even later, so they have dependable guaranteed cash-flow. Several annuity buyers fall somewhere in between those age ranges.

Now, what situations might make sense to purchase an annuity in your 60-somethings?

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what are annuity rates

Are you looking at different annuity rates for your retirement goals? Generally speaking, an annuity rate is the percentage at which money inside an annuity grows annually. While a majority of annuity rates have to do with growth potential, not all rates do.

Many advertisers push different annuity rates online, but these rates can have different meanings. Those rate distinctions differ largely along the various types of annuities and what each type offers to you.

Some annuities, like immediate annuities, will give you rates that are tied to income payouts. Since immediate annuities are designed to pay you income right away, that makes it pretty straightforward. Other annuities are more 'income for later' and come with rates like “payout percentages” depending on the type of payout option you choose.

Annuity rates usually vary from one life insurance company to another. What’s more, rates are tied to current interest rates. So when current interest rates change, annuity rates tend to move with them.

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alternatives to variable annuities

Do you have a variable annuity and are you looking for alternatives to it? Not sure about what options might make sense for your situation?

Many people buy annuities for different retirement goals, but variable annuities tend to be bought more than other types of annuities. However, this is likely to change in the near future. What is driving this shift is that people are on the lookout for alternatives to variable annuities.

Why? Variable annuities offer the most growth potential of all annuities. But they also have the most exposure to market risk.

What’s more, while this isn't universally true for all of them, many variable annuities are also fee-heavy and expense-heavy.

According to the SEC, just one annual charge for life insurers managing longevity risk – called a mortality and expense charge – can add up to 1.25% per year in variable annuity contracts. Other research by groups like Morningstar has also found that cumulative fees and expenses in a variable annuity can be in excess of 3 percent.

Depending on their needs, people may be interested in alternatives ranging from annuity contracts with less market risk to financial vehicles that aren’t even annuities at all.

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independent annuity advice

Where do you find independent annuity advice that you can trust? Just mention the topic of annuities, and you certainly won’t have any shortage of opinions coming out of the woodshed.

Many financial advisors and pundits are in the pro-annuity camp due to the strong contractual guarantees that only annuities give. On the other hand, annuity naysayers point to a few things, such as sometimes overly aggressive sales pitches, to make their case of annuity pessimism.

So, how can you find independent annuity advice that is somewhere in the middle: objective, honest, and focused on helping you become educated and make a well-informed decision? A good source will give you, among other things:


In other words, a credible source of annuity information will be upfront and clear about what annuity contracts can achieve – and also not accomplish – for you.

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safe money and income strategies

Are you looking for safe money and income strategies that you heard of on the radio or someplace else? After a long career, most people would like a financially secure retirement that they can spend in peace and comfort.

This probably applies to you as much as anyone else. As you prepare for your post-career years, you may have heard or read about those "safe money and income strategies.” If you have, you may be wondering exactly what they are and whether they are right for you in your current financial situation.

What Are Safe Money and Income Strategies?

This sort of strategy follows a retirement school of thought that emphasizes income, safety, and protection. At its core, a safe money and income strategy can:

  • Pay regular predictable income to you for as long as you live.
  • Protect your hard-earned retirement assets.
  • Grow your money with a guaranteed interest rate.
  • Possibly earn more interest above a certain minimum rate.


Many fixed-income assets can serve as its lynchpin, from fixed-type annuities to bonds or Treasury securities. However, only annuities can truly pay you a guaranteed lifetime income.

What’s more, historically low interest rates have made it that much harder to live off of the interest from corporate and municipal bonds, CDs, Treasury securities, and savings bonds.

This isn’t to say that these instruments can give you some yield for dependable retirement income. It’s just harder in this lower interest rate environment.

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difference between immediate and deferred annuity

Annuities are a growing option for retirees looking for relatively 'worry-free' places where they can place their money without too much stress. There are many different types of annuities. But all annuities can fundamentally be divided into two main categories: immediate and deferred annuities.

By definition, an annuity is when someone puts a single lump-sum payment or a series of payments into a contract offered by a life insurance carrier. At a later point, this person starts receiving a stream of income from the annuity contract. The income stream can be for either a set period or the rest of their life.

So, what are the key differences between a deferred and immediate annuity? Here's a quick look at the overarching distinctions.

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should you buy an annuity at age 50

Chances are you have heard of annuities at some point. When they have a clear role in your plan, they can be an excellent part of a retirement strategy. If you are in your 50s, you might have thought at some point or another: Does an annuity make sense in your 50s, even when retirement might seem still quite a few years away?

Well, the answer rests on three primary factors: when you plan to retire, what your timeline is from now until then, and what you would use the annuity for.

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annuities maximize income

When the World War II generation finally retired, many former workers were able to count on a secure corporate pension to supplement their Social Security income. This pension income lasted for as long as they lived. Then it often continued to pay the surviving spouse after the initial recipient had passed away.

But pensions have largely disappeared from the corporate landscape. In turn, this has left an unexpected hole in the retirement plans of many retirees.

However, many people have found an alternative in annuities as a way to generate guaranteed income that they can count on every month. Annuities can provide a type of privately-funded pension income in a manner unlike any other type of financial instrument in the marketplace today.

Annuities are designed to pay a stream of guaranteed income for as long as someone lives. This holds even if someone receives more money from the insurance company than what was in their annuity contract.

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annuities in low interest rate environment

Annuities can certainly strengthen your retirement plan even while interest rates are low. Among other things, they can add more predictability and stability to what you already have.

But what can you do when interest rates are at rock-bottom? In response to the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, the Federal Reserve has dropped the target rate for its benchmark federal funds rate (its overnight lending rate to banks).

Now the target range for this rate is zero to one-quarter percent. The last time the Fed did this was during the financial crisis. In 2008, it dropped the rate to the same target range, and this didn't change course until December 2015.

The pandemic had an unprecedented impact on the economy. It put tens of millions of people out of work in just weeks and left many sectors basically on standstill.

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annuities avoid probate

Estate planning isn’t likely to rank high on your list of fun things to do. Thinking about a post-death legacy and what you wish for loved ones probably isn’t high up there, either.

But having a proper estate plan is beneficial in many ways. It can ensure that your assets are distributed in the manner that you desire after you are gone.

Depending on the size of your estate as well as your state of residence, you may be facing estate taxes on your assets. There are ways that you can reduce that tax liability if you might choose so.

But one legal process can also derail your legacy wishes, tie up your assets for a long time, and lead to family drama that otherwise wouldn’t happen: probate.

The good news? One way that you can avoid probate on some of your assets for certain is if you have money in annuities.

With how they are treated under law, annuities exempt the money within them from this often time-consuming and drawn-out proceeding.

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annuities creditor protection

Annuities are contracts between you and an insurance company. As the policyholder, you are entitled to certain guarantees provided to you by your life insurance company.

You can enjoy guaranteed income for life, guaranteed growth, guaranteed protection against market risk, or a guaranteed death benefit, among many other benefits.

Annuities also give the benefit of tax-deferred growth until you start withdrawing money from them. Not only that, annuities can also provide you with certain protections against creditors.

However, this helpful protection characteristic of annuities can vary by state. Here's a quick look at how annuities can offer various creditor protections if you are concerned about the exposure of your assets or money.

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enhanced benefits for annuities

Arguably the greatest benefit that an annuity can bring to a portfolio is protection. But depending on the contract you get, the annuity may provide enhanced protection for you in different qualifying circumstances.

These enhanced benefits can protect you against a number of financial risks. Those risks can range from confined care in a nursing home facility to home-based care and death benefit protection.

Some contracts have these as built-in features. In other cases, most enhanced benefits come as insurance contract add-ons, or annuity riders. Many of these enhanced benefit riders come at an additional charge.

You should be sure of what that enhanced annuity benefit specifically gives you, what it doesn't give you, how much it costs, and whether it truly makes sense for your situation before confirming any add-ons to your contract.

Even so, enhanced benefits can be a great supplement for the right financial situations. Here's how different enhanced benefits for annuities might help your retirement security in various situations.

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does an annuity make sense for your portfolio

If you have heard of annuities, you might wonder if they are right for you. Some advisors use annuities as part of the financial strategies that they create for their clients. Other advisors aren’t as much a fan of them.

Sometimes annuities get a fair amount of negative press. However, when they are used as a solution and are structured properly, annuities can actually be a great solution as part of your portfolio.

So, how can you tell if an annuity makes sense for you? Here are some reasons why one of these guaranteed insurance contracts could be a good addition to your portfolio.

Let's take a look at how fixed annuities and fixed index annuities might be of benefit.

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questions to ask about an annuity

Millions of Americans depend on annuities for retirement and for tax-advantaged accumulation. But if you are considering one, you might be unsure about which questions to ask about an annuity. Beyond that, you also want to be able to judge whether a specific annuity product is right for you.

Essentially, an annuity is a contract between you and a life insurance company. The contract provides tax-deferred growth for your money and different choices for your payout options: a lump-sum payment, income for life, or income for a set period.

Most annuities are started with money from retirement accounts -- 401(k) plans, IRAs, or Roth accounts. But you can also purchase an annuity with personal savings or proceeds from a transaction like a home sale. The money you use to begin your annuity contract will have its own tax implications, so keep that in mind as you consider your options.

Determining what annuity is right for you is up there with other important retirement decisions. After all, these are your life savings.

You want to be sure that you bought the right annuity contract -- if indeed it does make sense for you -- and that its unique features and benefits solve for the existing gaps in your portfolio.

Here are some questions to ask about annuity options that can help you narrow down your choices to the right fit.

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fixed annuity vs cd

If you are looking for a decent rate for your money, your local bank might not offer much to write home about. We already are in a low-interest rate environment, and the Fed doesn't appear to be ready to raise rates anytime soon.

This is, of course, one of the effects of recent public health and economic conditions, which also might not be winding down anytime soon.

When it comes to earning interest, one option that banks offer is a certificate of deposit.

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how much income will an annuity provide

How much income will your annuity contract pay you? The answer depends on what age you start collecting income from your annuity.

If you start income at age 70-75, you will receive higher payouts. If you begin your annuity income in your mid-50s, it will be less than what you would receive in your 60s or later.

Annuities therefore resemble Social Security in that their payouts will increase the longer you wait to take them. But annuities with qualified money, or pre-tax dollars, in them have required minimum distributions that must be taken by age 72.

Why is this? Since the insurance company is on the hook for paying you guaranteed income for a certain period or life, it manages its risk based on the age of when you start that guaranteed income stream.

The insurance company also builds estimates of statistically how long it believes you will live into every single one of its income payments. These estimates are based on life expectancy and mortality data.

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