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What you should know before you purchase annuities

purchase annuities

It can be quite appealing to have some guaranteed income, especially at this time when there is financial uncertainty. And, if you know that your income will be coming each month for your entire life, then you can have less things to worry about. This means you don’t need to think about outliving your savings or even stock market volatility. 

There is also a chance that you can have regular money from social security, though it may not cover all your bills. If you don’t have a pension, then your best option is to get an annuity to enhance your guaranteed income. Remember that there are a couple of things you must know about annuities. This post explains what you should know before you purchase annuities. 

They can be simple and complicated

In most cases, the basic annuity can be easy to understand. A single-premium immediate annuity is when you pay a lump sum of money to the insurance company and you get a set amount of money, meaning you receive a guaranteed income for life.  The payouts are usually based on your age, the interest rates, and your gender when you purchase the annuity. Take note that you can use an immediate annuity calculator for easy calculations.

Income annuities can be helpful for potential retirees who don’t have streams of retirement income, such as pension and social security, or for people who have a low tolerance for market risk can benefit from annuities. 


But some annuities are complicated. Keep in mind that annuities come in varieties that include fixed, variable, immediate, fixed-indexed, and deferred. Income annuities offer guaranteed lifetime income, which can be nor or in the future. You can also find other forms of annuities that can help you to defer taxes or even offer protection from stock market losses. Many people besides the knowledgeable and sophisticated investors may not prefer these other types of annuities for their retirement income. The fees, rules, and the role they tend to play in the financial plan are different.  

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They need commitment

When it comes to an income annuity, it’s hard to access your lump sum again when you pay it to the insurer. You can receive large monthly payouts when you have a life-only annuity. This annuity can keep on paying the rest of your life regardless of how long you live. 

That said, there are some crucial factors you must consider before choosing this option. Firstly, the payouts can stop when you pass away, which can be in two years or even fifty years. And, this option also covers just you. This means that your spouse can receive nothing if they survive.  

Therefore, you can opt for an annuity version that guarantees lower payouts, but the insurance company can be obligated to pay them for a couple of years even if you pass away. Alternatively, you can choose a joint annuity that keeps on paying out as long as one spouse survives, though this can be quite low.   


Because you may access that cash as a lifetime income stream and you cannot take extra withdrawals, you should be careful before you decide to tie up a lot of your savings in income annuities. It’s crucial to have some cash accessible for some emergencies and other expenses. 

Aside from this, the payout for the fixed annuity can lose its purchasing power over time. Some insurers provide annuities that can adjust the payouts when there is inflation, though these payouts can begin much lower. Therefore, you may invest the rest of your savings for the long-term to keep up with inflation.

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One of the best strategies when deciding the amount of money to invest in immediate annuities is to add up all the regular expenses in retirement and then subtract guaranteed sources of income that you already have like any pension and social security and consider purchasing immediate annuities to fill in part of or the entire gap.

Because of the low interest rates nowadays, payouts for an income annuity bought now can be lower than the ones in the past. You can avoid market risk associated with a fixed annuity, but it means that there is an interest-rate risk. 


Therefore, some people opt for laddering annuities, meaning they invest some savings in annuities now and they later purchase more that can provide higher amounts of income. In most cases, this strategy can depend on various factors. Firstly, you expect the payouts to be more when you get older. Secondly, you expect that you may receive more interest rates when you get older. But laddering is often complex for some people, so it’s a good idea to talk to your financial adviser before you get committed.   

A deferred-income annuity is another type of income annuity. A deferred-income annuity allows you to make an investment of a lump sum now and the payouts may not begin until a certain time in the future. Therefore, if you are still alive by that time, you can receive more money each month. Remember that if you pass away by that specific time, then you can get nothing.  

You should choose the right type of annuity

Income annuities offer guaranteed lifetime income. You should note that there are also other types of annuities that tend to be more complicated and can be more expensive. Most of them can be more suitable for sophisticated investors. 

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There is a variable annuity that allows you to invest in a mutual-fund like accounts and the money can grow tax-deferred. But a normal variable annuity can also expose you to risks, so you can lose value of your investment. This annuity is an investment vehicle that offers tax benefits. 


A variable annuity provides an income guarantee but it attracts an additional fee. This means that you can get at least a certain amount of income for your entire life regardless of what happens to the investment you made. 

But income riders are usually complex. For instance, a rider can guarantee that the money that your eventual withdrawals are based on rises by 10 percent each year even if the value decreases after this. You can then make a withdrawal of up to 10 percent of this amount each year for the rest of your life, no matter what may happen to your investment. But if you decide to withdraw all your savings from a variable annuity that has an income guarantee, you can only get your investment value.

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