What is an Annuity?
An annuity is an insurance product that pays out income, and can be used as part of a retirement strategy. Annuities are a popular choice for investors who want to receive a steady income stream in retirement. Here's how an annuity works: you make an investment in the annuity, and it then makes payments to you on a future date or series of dates. The income you receive from an annuity can be doled out monthly, quarterly, annually or even in a lump sum payment.The size of your payments, are determined by a variety of factors, including the length of your payment period.
You can opt to receive payments for the rest of your life, or for a set number of years. How much you receive depends on whether you opt for a guaranteed payout (fixed annuity) or a payout stream determined by the performance of your annuity's underlying investments (variable annuity).
While annuities can be useful retirement planning tools, they can also be a lousy investment choice for certain people because of their notoriously high expenses. Financial planners and insurance salesmen will frequently try to steer seniors or other people in various stages toward retirement into annuities. Anyone who considers an annuity should research it thoroughly first, before deciding whether it's an appropriate investment for someone in their situation.
What are the different types of annuities?
There are two basic types of annuities: deferred and immediate. With a deferred annuity, your money is invested for a period of time until you are ready to begin taking withdrawals, typically in retirement. If you opt for an immediate annuity you begin to receive payments soon after you make your initial investment. For example, you might consider purchasing an immediate annuity as you approach retirement age.
The deferred annuity accumulates money while the immediate annuity pays out. Deferred annuities can also be converted into immediate annuities when the owner wants to start collecting payments. Within these two categories, annuities can also be either fixed or variable depending on whether the payout is a fixed sum, tied to the performance of the overall market or group of investments, or a combination of the
Are there tax benefits to annuities?
Yes. Money that you invest in an annuity grows tax-deferred. When you eventually make withdrawals, the amount you contributed to the annuity is not taxed, but your earnings are taxed at your regular income tax rate.
Individual Retirement Arrangements - Getting Started
IRAs allow you to make tax-deferred investments to provide financial security when you retire.
Assess your financial needs
- Where am I, financially? The Roadmap to Saving and Investing (U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission) can help you evaluate your financial situation.
- What will my Social Security retirement benefit be? Calculate what you can expect as your Social Security retirement benefit.
- How much will I need when I retire? Use the American Savings Education Council (ASEC)calculator to estimate what you'll need.
- The Department of Labor website also has retirement planning information.
Set up your IRA