As the leading edge of the baby boomers generation is now turning 66 years old, their ideas of wealth during retirement is changing. No longer are we looking for “a number,” or target for accumulating a lump sum of cash. Instead, boomers (and possibly Gen X that follows) want an income stream that is reliable, predictable and lifelong. And what better income stream could one want than one backed by the strongest government in the universe? (Albeit, it may be the cleanest dirty shirt in the financial wardrobe.)
Many 401k(s) have gone virtually sideways after inflation the past 12 years, and ownership of individual stocks is generally not allowed in such ERISA plans. For those under the age of 65, piling as much money as one can into high-quality, high-dividend-paying equities has proven to be the best inflation-protected income stream. Reinvesting those dividends in a free dividend reinvestment plan (aka DRIP), and then taking the dividends in the form of quarterly cash payments is a no-brainer.
Since 1946, large cap stocks have returned 6.6 percent above inflation while intermediate bonds (and bond funds) have hammered out just 2.2 percent above inflation. Caveat emptor: With the yield on 10-year Treasury bonds touching an all-time unbelievable low of a measly 1.33 percent, the chance that interest rates will rise and slam your bond portfolio into oblivion should you want to cash them out prior to maturity (likewise for both fixed and indexed annuities with a Market Value Adjustment) is quite likely.
Finding alternatives to bonds and fixed or indexed annuities to produce income for future retirees is paramount. But what about the best and cheapest annuity in town? Buy your annuity from Social Security. Not only is it quasi-inflation protected with its cost of living adjustments (COLA), its issuer is a pretty sure bet to be the last man standing in case we suffer a global economic meltdown. How does one buy an annuity from Social Security?