The Secret to Generating Lifetime Income

Different generations tend to save in different ways. Whether its hiding cash in old bed frames or tracking expenses on a smartphone in real-time, everyone has their own approach. One solution to help ensure lifetime income is adding a fixed indexed annuity (FIA) to your retirement portfolio. These products can help balance your portfolio and generate guaranteed income for life. Here’s a bit more information on the basics of FIAs:

 

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4 Ways to Save While Paying Off Student Loans

You’ve walked across the stage, shook the university president’s hand, and waved to your beaming family and friends. All of those late nights in the library suddenly feel worth it, but you know with the student loans, the work of school is not quite yet complete. According to a report from HelloWallet, every dollar in student loan debt can end up reducing your overall retirement savings by 35 cents. This means that if you have $50,000 in student loan debt, you could end up losing $17,500 in retirement.

With graduation season in full swing, it’s an ideal time to consider how to balance preparing for retirement while also paying off student loans. Get an A+ in securing a solid financial future with these useful tips:

1. STAY FOCUSED WITH AUTOMATIC PAYMENTS. Kill two birds with one stone by setting up automatic transfers for both paying off your student loans and saving for retirement.

2. EVALUATE AND REVAMP YOUR BUDGET. Take time to carefully assess your spending habits and cut out unnecessary expenses. Small lifestyle changes can go a long way.

3. SET SHORT-TERM SAVINGS GOALS. While student debt payments can be overwhelming, starting with small savings goals can help foster increased financial security.

4. STUDY RETIREMENT PORTFOLIO OPTIONS. Utilize employer offered programs and consider boosting your 401(k) contributions. Consider adding a fixed indexed annuity to balance your portfolio.

 

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Annuity Shift

This article originally appeared on ThinkAdvisor.

National Retirement Planning Week took place in April, and the whole month was Financial Capability Month. April was full of encouragement for individuals to move their retirement savings plans forward.

California’s insurance commissioner, Dave Jones, took part: He put out a widely circulated press release encouraging all Californians, and all Americans, to consider the role annuities can play in securing their financial future.

“Whether you are a Baby Boomer, Gen Xer or a Millennial, you need to be proactive and have a plan for retirement,” Jones said.

I was impressed to see Jones work to educate people, to ensure that they understand how crucial it is to be aware of all of the retirement options, including annuities, that can help protect their future financial security.

And I wasn’t surprised by his comments. Why? Because, when it comes to retirement savings strategies, adding a fixed indexed annuity can diversify and bring needed balance to a retirement portfolio, and complement employer-offered plans, like 401(k) plans.

Fixed indexed annuities are becoming more mainstream in retirement planning as consumers begin to realize and desire the benefits of income for life. Commissioner Jones’ comments mark an important shift in how regulators view retirement savings strategies and the value annuities can have for consumers looking for financial piece of mind into their golden years.

Since financial needs vary across age, economic stability and retirement goals, Jones made sure to emphasize that annuities may not always be the best option. Jones recognized, like my own group, the Indexed Annuity Leadership Council, that an annuity isn’t for everybody. The best first step is to be aware of the options and consider all of the financial vehicles that may play a role in creating a balanced portfolio.

By 2030, one in five Californians will be 65 or older. With the entire U.S. population aging, it’s more important than ever for individuals to be informed and understand how much they will need to save.

Annuities have been misunderstood in the past, but failing to encourage consumers who are saving for retirement to consider annuities denies them the opportunity to consider a product that could be an important component in their retirement portfolio. Not giving consumers the options they need to create the proper combination of risk and conservative choices could cripple the retirement dreams of many Americans.

 

 

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New Study: 1 in 3 Americans Confess Stopping Retirement Savings At Least Once

While a whopping 94 percent of Americans currently give themselves a passing grade on retirement, a third of them have confessed to stopping retirement savings at least once, according to a new report from the Indexed Annuity Leadership Council.[1] In fact, 20 percent of Baby Boomers don’t have a single dollar put away for retirement.

This news is startling. In many cases, $250,000 is needed for retirement healthcare costs alone.[2] With roughly half of Americans citing that they will miss having a steady paycheck the most when they retire, individuals need to explore savings options and develop a sound strategy to address their retirement needs.

While many individuals may be banking on Social Security as a main stream of money for retirement, it is not the only consistent paycheck available for consumers. Fixed Indexed Annuities (FIAs) can provide a steady, retirement income stream.

No matter your plans for your golden years, securing your financial future is crucial to making these dreams a reality.

[1] Data trends were compiled from Toluna’s online panel in April 2017, among n=1,000 adults (ages 18 and over).  Figures for age, sex and region income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the census population.
[2] 2015 Fidelity Study

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NAIC Tees Up on Annuity Suitability Models

By Jim Poolman

This article originally was published on Think Advisor.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioner recently gathered insurance commissioners, industry leaders, regulators and consumer representatives together for the NAIC Spring 2017 National Meeting in Denver.

Among the attendees at the NAIC meetings was my group, the Indexed Annuity Leadership Council. IALC is a group for insurance providers dedicated to the mission of providing retirement savings options, such as fixed indexed annuities, and to increasing awareness of and conversations about those options.

I was excited going into this weekend, because one of the NAIC’s main goals for the meeting was to start a discussion about making revisions to the NAIC’s Suitability in Annuity Transactions model.

Annuity users, producers and carriers are all interested in strengthening protections for the consumers who are buying financial products, including annuities. The conversations about the model revisions proved to be important conversations.

Andy Beal, the chief operating officer at the NAIC, said before the meeting that keeping up with our ever-changing world can be demanding for regulators, but that the NAIC members’ dedication to consumers has resulted in over 145 years of success for the association.

At IALC, we are pleased to see state insurance regulators taking up the important matter of how to further consumer protection. We firmly believe that regulation of financial products is best when it comes from the states, and not the federal government.

We favor and support adjustments to the NAIC suitability model that provide consumer protections, but that keep and promote valuable choices for consumers who are planning for their financial future. That’s such an important balance to strike, to ensure that consumers have protections, and that consumers also have the financial choices they need to plan for a successful future.

 

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4 Things You Think You Know About Retirement

Think you know everything about retirement? These 4 things might have you thinking again.

  1. How much you’ll need.

60% of Baby Boomers think they need less than $1 million in retirement [1]—yet, experts estimate that the average American needs at least a quarter of a million for health care costs alone. Your living expenses are also not likely to remain the same in retirement. To determine how much you’ll need to meet your specific retirement objectives, use this retirement calculator.

  1. Your risk tolerance.

Each person has a different propensity for risk. As a young professional, you have the luxury to put some of your money into high-risk investments since your retirement is seemingly far away. Leading up to retirement, your last few years of savings will be different than when you were first starting out in your career. Because those nearing retirement have less time to recover from risk, you might consider incorporating a fixed indexed annuity to help you moderate risk in your financial plan. Remember to revisit your retirement plan every few years to make sure your savings reflect your current needs and adjust for market conditions. Not sure what your risk looks like right now? You can complete this questionnaire to help determine your risk profile.

  1. How much you’ve saved.

Nearly 1 in 5 Americans don’t know how much they’ve saved for retirement [1]. Adding steadily to retirement savings is a great start, but ensure you have a savings strategy and stick to your plan. Take the time determine how well you have prepared and calculate if your current savings are sufficient with your future needs. Set a strategy to achieve measurable financial goals. No matter your age, it’s important to keep track of how much is in your account. With online banking, it’s easier than ever to stay on top of your finances and make changes as necessary.

  1. How much you’ll receive from Social Security.

Many baby boomers are banking on Social Security as a main stream of income for retirement. However, the average monthly Social Security payment is only $1,406. That’s $500 less than the number the average Baby Boomer guessed as the average monthly Social Security payment.  Check out our Social Security retirement income estimator to learn more about your approximate benefit.

 

 [1] Data trends were compiled from the GfK’s KnowledgePanel, a nationally representative sample of 6,490 Americans between April and May of 2016 and Toluna’s online panel in August 2016, among n=510 adults (ages 18 and over).  Figures for age, sex and region income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the census population

 

 

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Making the Most of Financial Capabilities Month

April is full of some of our favorite things: sunny skies, blooming flowers and celebrating the importance of financial literacy. This month, Americans nationwide are addressing their financial goals in recognition of Financial Capabilities Month.

There’s no better time to establish smart spending habits, develop a retirement plan, and become more attune with your financial future.  Below are 4 tips on how to grow your wealth of knowledge this month.

1. Assess your current spending habits. Start identifying your reoccurring expenses to create a budget. From every day and monthly expenses to retirement savings, it’s important to be aware how your spending now will impact your future plans.

2. Contribute to your employer’s retirement plan. Ignoring different savings options from your employer can let “free money” go to waste. By contributing to a 401(k), you may be eligible for an extra boost in savings from your employer’s matching plans.

3. Increase your retirement IQ. 1 in 4 baby boomers have less than $5,000 saved for retirement. Find out how much you’ll need to save to reach your ideal retirement with our interactive retirement calculators.

4. Explore financial product options. Many retirees need more than just Social Security checks to maintain their lifestyle and expenses in their golden years. Now is the time to look into other income options in retirement. To diversify your retirement portfolio, you might consider incorporating a fixed indexed annuity. These products can help to offer guaranteed income for life.

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NEW TOOLS TO HELP YOU PLAN A STRONG FUTURE

Here at the IALC, we know that your finances are important to you and having a strong plan for the future can help ensure your peace of mind. That’s why we’re dedicated to providing complete and factual information about indexed annuities.

As you may have noticed we’ve changed things up a bit. To help guide you through planning for your financial future, we’ve added more resources and retirement information to our site.

  • Check out our new retirement calculators to see if you’re on track or how inflation will affect your plan.

Is there something that you would like to see on Indexed Annuity Insights? Send us a note on Twitter @IALCouncil.

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5 QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE PURCHASING AN INDEXED ANNUITY

Indexed annuities offer a unique and attractive blend of growth potential, tax advantages, lifetime income and liquidity. But, it’s important to understand the terms of your individual contract. Here are some questions you can ask your insurance agent before signing on the dotted line.

1) How long is the term?
Review the term of the contract, and make sure it fits with your lifestyle needs. Will you be able to start receiving money upon your retirement? Will the amount you can receive penalty-free meet your needs? If you can wait several years into retirement to begin receiving payments, by how much will that increase the amounts you can receive? Understand the long-term nature of an annuity purchase, and make sure you plan to keep the annuity long enough that any early withdrawal penalties, usually called “surrender charges,” don’t take a significant portion of your contribution. Typically, terms are around 7-10 years, but vary from contract to contract. Your insurance agent should work with you to determine whether or not an indexed annuity is suitable for you.

2) What penalties will I incur if I remove my money early?
All withdrawals made prior to age 59 ½ are considered a premature distribution and may be subject to a 10% tax penalty in addition to ordinary income tax.

Additionally, similar to fees associated with other financial products, insurance companies will often charge a surrender fee if the contract is ended before term. However, surrender or withdrawal charges are often waived if you (1) die; (2) become confined to a hospital or nursing home for a specified period; or (3) you choose to take a guaranteed income stream. In addition, most indexed annuities allow you take up to 10% of your contract value each year without incurring a surrender or withdrawal charge. See if these apply to the agreements you’re researching.

3) Which indexing method is used?
The indexing method means the approach used to measure the amount of change in the index. Annual reset, high-water mark and point-to-point are common methods. The method will determine when interest is added to your annuity, as well as how the interest is calculated.

4) What is an interest rate cap?
Indexed annuities aren’t designed to replicate stock market returns; they’re designed to protect your money. In a negative stock market year, fixed indexed annuities eliminate the effect of the loss and provide immediate, total protection of your account value. That’s incredibly valuable protection, and it’s expensive for the carrier to provide, which is why most indexed annuities have caps on your return. A cap places an upper limit on the amount of any index gain that will be credited to your contract. Ask your insurance agent what the cap is and think about how much of your retirement funds you want to keep protected in an annuity. It is the cost of the protection provided in a down year that prevents your insurance provider from being able to give you all of the index increase in an up year.

5) What is the participation rate?
A participation rate is similar to an interest rate cap in that it limits the amount of any index gain which is credited to your contract. Some contracts have either a participation rate or a cap, and others have both. The participation rate determines how much of the increase in the index will be used to calculate index-linked interest. This method credits a percentage or proportion of the index value change percentage as interest. For example, an 80% participation rate applied to an index value change percentage of 10% will yield a credit of 8%.

 

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3 Ways to Bridge the Gender Savings Gap

This post originally appeared on the National Life Group Main Street blog on 3/9. By Maria McLendon.

When it comes to savings, the gender savings gap is huge. A recent study[1] indicated that women have 50% lower savings than their male counterparts. There are a number of reasons that this disparity exists, among these are that, on average, women earn lower salaries than their male counterparts and will spend fewer years in the workforce. However, there are actions that women can take right now, that will help improve their savings and provide a bridge to end the gender savings gap.

1) Start Now

The very first step to eliminating the Gender Savings gap is for women of all ages to start saving now. If you are a parent of a young daughter, start saving on her behalf—even if it is coins in a piggy bank. If you are a young woman just starting your career, start saving now—even if it is just a few dollars a week. By the time you are in your 30s, you should be saving 10-15% of your income and the sooner you start, the more quickly you can get to that rate of savings.

2) Make Consistent, Incremental Increases

Commit to increasing your rate of savings every year. Increasing the amount you save by just $25/month every year could mean that you will have $5,000 more in retirement savings, and an increase of $150/month[2] every year could mean more than $34,000 in savings when you get to retirement.

Check out this image for more ways that incremental increases can make a positive impact on your long-term savings balance.

3) Keep Things Balanced

Make sure that at least a portion of your savings is in lower-risk products that are not subject to loss from economic or stock market volatility. Fixed Annuities and Fixed Indexed Annuities are insurance products that offer guaranteed[3] rates of interest, protect your principle and interest from loss due to market downturns (assuming you don’t make any early withdrawals), and can offer the advantages of tax-deferred savings when part of a retirement plan.

The surest way to make change is to take action. Do something today to help close the gender savings gap for tomorrow.

[1] Women versus men in DC Plans, Vanguard white paper, October 2015.

[2] Assumes a 3% rate of return for 15 years before taxes are assessed. This is a hypothetical example for illustrative purposes only – not representative of any particular investment or insurance product.

[3] Guarantees are dependent on the claims paying ability of the issuing Company. Because they are meant for long-term accumulation, most annuities have surrender charges that are assessed during the early years of the contract if the contract owner surrenders the annuity. In addition, withdrawals prior to age 59 ½ may be subject to a 10% Federal Tax Penalty. All withdrawals made from annuities with pre-tax contributions are taxed as ordinary income. All withdrawals from an annuity purchased with non-qualified monies are taxable as ordinary income only to the extent there is a gain in the policy. Indexed annuities do not directly participate in any stock or equity investments. This is not a solicitation of any specific annuity contract.

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