Celebrating the 22nd Anniversary of Fixed Indexed Annuities

Move aside, Valentine’s Day… there’s another reason to celebrate! This week, we’re commemorating the 22nd anniversary of Fixed Indexed Annuities (FIAs). While we can’t guarantee flowers or heart-eyed emojis, this anniversary marks the continuous advancement of a retirement product that can offer guaranteed lifetime income. Fixed Indexed Annuities (FIAs) are great for your conservative investing dollars and a great way to diversify your retirement savings.

FIAs were first introduced to consumers on February 15th, 1995. FIAs can be a smart option for most ages and savers at any level. Join the growing movement by taking advantage of the benefits of FIAs to help create a sustainable retirement future.

  • The retirement landscape is evolving – people are living longer and Social Security is becoming less secure. Coupled with market volatility, the future is uncertain. Adding an FIA to your retirement portfolio can help generate steady, lifetime income.
  • Other retirement products have limits that hinder flexibility and savings growth. An IRA or 401(k) might control how much you’re able to contribute, but FIAs do not have annual contribution caps.
  • Balancing your portfolio can help your retirement dreams come to life. Diversifying your account through using both employer offered programs and products like an FIA can create opportunities for traveling, spending time with friends, or investing in your grandchildren’s future.

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FALL IN LOVE WITH YOUR RETIREMENT SAVINGS PLAN

Finding your soulmate and saving for retirement actually have a lot in common. Both can be intimidating, require careful planning and lead to some nerve-wracking decisions. However, making informed steps in both scenarios can leave you feeling happy and secure.

Fall in love with your retirement savings plan with these helpful tips:  

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Bringing Balance to Your Retirement Portfolio

In our hectic lives, balance is something many of us strive to achieve. From work-life balance to finding balance in your yoga class, we’re all looking for a little more of it.

In terms of planning for the future, have you thought about ways to balance your retirement portfolio? These 3 practical tips will make sure you’re not putting all your financial eggs in one basket:

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Take advantage of employer offered programs. Many employers not only offer retirement savings programs like 401(k)s, but many will match a certain percentage of your contributions. Not participating in this program is like leaving money on the table. It’s important to balance more risky decisions with reliable ones like a retirement savings program.

 

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Not relying only on Social Security. It’s no secret that Americans are questioning the future of Social Security. The problem, however, is that 2 out of 5 boomers think they will get more money from Social Security than the average monthly payment, according to a recent study conducted by the IALC.  Social Security might not be enough to get you through retirement comfortably, so it’s crucial to remember to supplement with other retirement products.

 

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Look into other balancing options. As you balance the risk in your retirement portfolio, consider a fixed indexed annuity. These products offer low risk, guaranteed income and protection for market ups and downs.

 

 

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Retirement Savings Resolutions for the New Year

While getting your health into shape tops many Americans’ New Year’s resolution list, getting your finances in shape should be another goal you make in the New Year.  Why is this so important? A recent study  showed that nearly 40 percent of Americans don’t have any retirement savings.  That’s a big deal. This year, consider making a Retirement Resolution.

Here are a few simple tips for helping you stay on track:

  1. Set short term goals. Instead of thinking of a total amount you’ll need saved by the time you retire, start small.  For example, set aside $30 a week rather than $30,000.00 in a year. While it might not seem like a lot, a little can add up fast.
  2. Change your date night. Instead of going out to eat every Friday night, try making dinner at home twice a month instead. The money you save on going out to restaurants can be put directly into your retirement account.
  3. Set up Automatic Payments. It’s easy to say you’re going to diet, but following through with a diet is harder. It can be the same with savings. Here’s an easy tip: set up automatic transfers each month so you won’t be tempted to spend that savings on something else.
  4. Add to your retirement portfolio. While investing in a 401(k) is a great start to a retirement portfolio, don’t put all your eggs into one basket. This New Year’s think about adding other options like a Fixed Indexed Annuity to balance your portfolio.

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The Top 5 FIA Articles from 2016

2016 was another great year for Fixed Indexed Annuities (FIAs). In fact, several quarters saw record-breaking sales as consumers recognize the benefits and balance FIAs can provide to a retirement portfolio. During 2016, LifeHealthPro, MarketWatch and Huffington Post all identified how FIAs are attractive retirement products for retirees.

Check out the top articles on FIAs from 2016:

LifeHealthPro: Offer FIAs to take advantage of retirement income opportunities

“Jim Poolman, executive director of the Indexed Annuity Leadership Council (IALC), said that Gen X and Gen Y in particular aren’t sure what kind of guaranteed income they’ll get at retirement.

“We’re working to educate those folks that putting money into a FIA product as part of the safer portion of the retirement plan can guarantee their income during retirement,” Poolman said.”

TIME: 11 Money Lies to Stop Telling Yourself

“While a 401k is a great start to a retirement portfolio, it likely won’t be enough for retirement and will need to be supplemented with another product.

“There’s been a shift from pension funds to retirement accounts, with employees now in the driver’s seat,” said Jim Poolman, executive director of the Indexed Annuity Leadership Council. “The responsibility to choose strategies and mitigate risks while saving for retirement is now mostly falling to the employee.”

Investing in a 401k is simple, and the employer contribution is a huge bonus, but in order to meet your retirement goals and keep that money safe, you need to diversify your savings strategy.

“Savers should protect themselves from market risk and protect the value of their nest eggs while maintaining a varied portfolio,” said Poolman. “Diversity is important when it comes to retirement savings because it can actually help to reduce risk and improve return.”

According to Poolman, an easy way to balance out your retirement portfolio is to take advantage of a conservative product, like a fixed annuity, which guarantees a certain income during retirement, even if the market fluctuates.”

GoBankingRates: 20 Things You Can Learn From Your Parents’ Retirement

 “Many retirees were planning on relying on just one retirement income stream, which turned out to be a bust when once-considered low-risk pension plans started to dry up a few decades ago.

Today’s workers, even though few have access to a pension plan, can still learn from that lesson by casting a wide net and creating a strategy that includes more than just a 401k payout. Retirement savings diversity can help reduce risk and improve return, according to information available on the U.S. Department of Labor website.

One suggestion, said Poolman, is “combining traditional savings vehicles like a 401k with low-risk options such as fixed-indexed annuities, which will help keep you financially healthy and on track to a happy retirement.”

MarketWatch: Why fixed indexed annuities are strong sellers

“This caveat notwithstanding, many prospective annuity buyers should take a hard look at FIAs. It’s no coincidence that their sales were up 22% in the third quarter of 2015, while annuity sales overall rose only 3%. FIAs are the right product at the right time for many pre-retirees and retirees because at least they provide some equity exposure with no downside risk. In addition, they offer income protection through riders with relatively generous lifetime income payments.”

Huffington Post: Why Retirees Should Consider Indexed Annuities

“Simply put: slow and steady wins the race when it comes to retirement. Also, can retirees really bear another market plunge like 2008, when assets faced almost a 50 percent decrease in value?

Retirees have long regarded indexed annuities (also known as equity index, fixed index or fixed indexed annuities) as a risk management financial strategy. They are lifetime streams of guaranteed, fixed income with added insulation against volatile market conditions.”

 

 

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A Retirement Recipe to Try this Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving, consider throwing a new recipe onto your menu. Ingredients like contributions to an employer sponsored 401(k) program or to fixed indexed annuities can create a deliciously balanced portfolio that can keep you and your family financially full for many Thanksgivings to come.

Check out this Thanksgiving Retirement Recipe from the IALC:

Succulent Savings
Serves: You and your family
Nutritional Information: Guarantees are dependent upon the claims-paying ability of the issuing company.

Instructions:

Step 1: Measure your spending.  Begin by identifying all your expenses, including lifestyle, healthcare, etc. and create a budget. Be sure to include a healthy splash of saving for retirement in your monthly reoccurring expenses. This ensures that you are putting something toward your retirement savings each and every month.

 Step 2: Combine your employer’s retirement plan to the mixture. Check whether your employer offers savings options like a 401(k), and if they’re willing to match it. Money you allocate to your 401(k) will come from your paycheck, and go directly into the savings pot. (Note: Any money your employer will match is kind of like baking soda– you add a little and with time, you’ll see it grow.)

 Step 3: Bake in a fixed indexed annuity. The featured ingredient, fixed indexed annuities, or FIAs, can help to balance the flavors of your portfolio, while providing guaranteed lifetime income in retirement.

Step 4: Dig in! Enjoy your Thanksgiving with family and friends and feel confident that your retirement savings strategy will be hearty and satisfying for years to come.

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Teacher’s Retirement Q&A w/ IALC Expert

With the school year in full swing, it’s a good time for teachers to revisit their own long-term plan and consider preparation for when they are no longer lesson planning. Checking up on your long-term financial planning should include reviewing your current expenses, evaluating any debt balance, analyzing your savings accounts and ensuring you understand how the products in your retirement portfolio will help you achieve your goals.  One product available to teachers for their retirement is called a Fixed Indexed Annuity.  To help better understand the benefits a Fixed Indexed Annuity (FIA) can add to your retirement portfolio we’ve answered common questions from teachers below.

  1. What are some of the potential benefits of Fixed Indexed Annuities (FIAs) for teachers?

By providing an income stream that pays as long as you live, FIAs can help give teachers the flexibility to do the things they’ve always dreamed of in retirement, such as traveling, spending time with family and friends, and helping out with their grandchildren’s education. FIAs can give you the option of turning on lifetime income stream and protecting your nest egg from market volatility. Because your money won’t decline as long as it’s in the annuity and you don’t withdraw money from it during the surrender period, setting aside of a portion of your funds in a FIA can help provide balance and stability to your retirement portfolio.

  1. How is my interest calculated with a FIA?

An FIA uses a unique formula to calculate annual interest based in part on the performance of a stock, bond or commodity index. While the index is used as a benchmark, you don’t actually invest in it—FIAs do not directly participate in any stock or equity investments. Different FIAs will also apply other limitations in determining how much of the index change to credit as interest. These limitations are called caps and participation rates.  The cap is the upper limit that can be credited. If the index experiences a 10% return, and the cap is 4%, then 4% of interest is credited to the contract. The participation rate sets a percentage of the index to use.  Some of the most popular strategies use a participation rate of 100%, so in that case, the cap would still be the limiting factor.

  1. Can a FIA help with my taxes in retirement?

FIAs are tax-deferred, meaning the interest you earn isn’t taxed until you take the money out in retirement.  When you do withdraw the money, the earnings are taxed as ordinary income. The benefits of tax-deferred earnings allow you to earn interest on the principal, interest on the interest, and interest on the tax savings! And since FIAs don’t have an annual contribution cap when purchased with after-tax dollars, you can contribute as much as you want. Teachers may also have access to FIAs within a supplemental retirement plan called a 403(b) or 457(b) account. These allow you to pay premiums before taxes are taken out, reducing your current year’s taxable income. When these are accessed at retirement, the entire distribution is taxable.

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Q&A with Retirement Expert Tom Hegna


We recently interviewed retirement expert, Tom Hegna, and asked him some of the most commonly posed retirement questions. Here’s what he had to say.

WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO CONSIDER WHEN SAVING FOR RETIREMENT?

Hegna: The most important thing for retirees is making sure their basic expenses are covered with guaranteed1 lifetime income. This can be in the form of a pension, Social Security and an annuity. By covering your basic expenses, you help take longevity risk off the table. Longevity risk is the risk that you will live longer than your retirement savings. Why does this matter? The longer you live will have an effect on all the other risks we face like market risk, inflation, deflation, health care risk, etc.

WHY DO YOU THINK AMERICANS STRUGGLE TO SAVE FOR RETIREMENT?

Hegna: If I told you that people spend more time planning their yearly family vacation than they do planning their nearly 20 years of retirement, would that surprise you? Any plan is better than no plan, but many Americans simply don’t sit down and conduct a yearly review of their retirement savings plan. People who fail to plan, plan to fail. The people who are actively engaged in the planning are much more likely to have a happy retirement.

WHAT PRODUCTS CAN HELP YOU BUILD A NEST EGG?

Hegna: I don’t necessarily buy into the concept that you need to make your “number” bigger and bigger and bigger, which would indicate there is a specific number to shoot for. I think you need to turn it around and say, how much income do I need? And what is the most efficient way to generate that income amount? Once you know that your basic expenses are covered, then that frees you up to explore different strategies.

WHAT ARE SOME WAYS RETIRED AMERICANS CAN SUPPLEMENT THEIR SOCIAL SECURITY CHECKS?

Hegna: Social Security is the “best money” that money can’t buy.  It’s not easy to just replace an income stream that has yearly cost-of-living adjustments to account for inflation, that is backed by the U.S. government,  and that grows at almost 8% per year from age 62 until age 70 (if you are able to delay your benefits). However, Fixed Indexed Annuities can be great products to help manage your risk and can provide a consistent stream of income in retirement. Also, I would be remiss if I did not mention that life insurance can be a valuable tool to protect your Social Security checks in case of a spouse passing away.  Life insurance can also be structured as a potential source of retirement income.  If properly funded, you can access the cash value using tax-free loans and withdrawals to supplement retirement income, or other goals.2

IF YOU COULD ONLY GIVE ONE PIECE OF RETIREMENT ADVICE, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

Hegna: Look, any plan is better than no plan, but where do you begin? Let’s keep it simple.

Step 1: Cover your basic expenses with guaranteed lifetime income.

Step 2: Optimize your portfolio to protect against inflation.

Step 3: Have a plan for long-term care. Follow these three simple steps and you will be on track for a balanced retirement.

Step 4: Consider life insurance, which can be structured as a potential source of retirement income.  If properly funded, you can access the cash value using tax-free loans and withdrawals to supplement retirement income, or other goals.

Follow these four simple steps and you will be on track for creating a balanced retirement.

1The guarantees of annuities are dependent upon the claims-paying ability of the issuing company.

2The ability of a life insurance contract to accumulate sufficient cash value to help meet accumulation goals will be dependent upon the amount of extra premium paid into the policy, and the performance of the policy, and is not guaranteed. Policy loans and withdrawals reduce the policy’s cash value and death benefit and may result in a taxable event. Withdrawals up to the basis paid into the contract and loans thereafter will not create an immediate taxable event, but substantial tax ramifications could result upon contract lapse or surrender.  Surrender charges may reduce the policy’s cash value in early years.

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When it comes to retirement, don’t get spooked

While adults may not get spooked by Halloween anymore, they do get frightened by one thing: retirement. In fact, recent data found that when it comes to retirement, Americans are most scared about the possibility of outliving their retirement income. Following right behind this top fear is the fear that their savings won’t cover basic necessities or allow them to maintain their current lifestyle.

Here is a breakdown of Americans top retirement fears, according to IALC data:

  1. Running out of Money—25% of those surveyed said their biggest fear was outlivingtheir retirement savings.
  2. Terrifying lifestyle changes—23% of responders fear they won’t be able to sustain their current lifestyle
  3. Frightening Cost of Health Care—19% were scared that he or she wouldn’t be able to pay for medical expenses.

In the face of these fears, Americans aren’t taking action- even at an age where they could more easily start saving. More than half of millennials (54%) have less than $5k saved for retirement, and 37% of millennials have absolutely nothing saved for retirement. That’s 91% of millennials who have nothing or just $5k saved!

How can you conquer your retirement frights? Start by checking out these helpful tips:

  1. Build a balanced portfolio—One option to mitigate risk in your portfolio is to add a more conservative product like a Fixed Indexed Annuity. An FIA offers guaranteed lifetime income, helping to ease the stress of having to cover unexpected expenses for longer than anticipated.
  2. Make a personal budget—People who plan can feel confident that they will likely end up saving more. Travel and healthcare expenses may increase during retirement so be sure to take that into account too.

With Americans living longer than ever, they need to take steps now to plan for a better retirement. Fortunately, there are strategies and products available that offer guaranteed lifetime income, helping to ease the stress of having to cover unexpected costs for longer than anticipated.  Don’t let your fear paralyze you from taking control.

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Up Your Retirement IQ with These 3 Tips

This week we’re taking a close look at our new research that shows a startlingly low retirement IQ. Specifically, a recent study by the IALC showed 1 in 4 baby boomers have less than $5k saved for retirement.

In order to guarantee a secure and relaxing retirement, staying informed and educated is crucial—and it is not as intimidating as people think. Here are 3 (simple) ways to start saving for retirement:

Begin saving early: Starting early allows you to make small contributions to your retirement and over time, it will add up to a large balance for your retirement savings. Experts estimate that for every six years you wait to get started, it doubles the required monthly savings you’ll need to reach the same level of retirement income.  Take a look at our Saving for Retirement tool, which helps you calculate how much you should put away each month, taking into account your age and retirement goal.

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Budget:Include saving for retirement in your monthly reoccurring expenses. This ensures that you are putting something toward your retirement savings each and every month. It takes discipline, but it will pay off in the end. If you’re concerned about having enough income in retirement, products like Fixed Indexed Annuities can help provide balance to your nest egg and can help to incorporate guaranteed lifetime income into your retirement plan.

Contribute to your employer’s retirement plan: Check whether your employer offers savings options like a 401(k) and if they’re willing to match it. Money you allocate to your 401(k) will come from your paycheck, and go directly into your savings. Plus, any money you get from your employer match could be considered free money.  At first you might want that extra money in your paycheck, but saving it will add up. Don’t believe it? Check out our Retirement Income & 401(k) Calculator to see how saving even a tiny amount each month can accumulate and make a big difference years down the road.

 

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