We all dream about our retirement — fishing, golfing, time with the kids and grandkids...
But the cold, unforgiving truth is that roughly half of all households with Americans 55 and up have no retirement savings at all. Nothing. Zip. Nada. Not a dime.
Furthermore, those who have saved, haven't saved enough. They've invested in IRAs and 401(k)s, and together with Social Security, they expect that to be enough.
Well, it's not. And sadly, most retirees only find this out when it's too late.
Social Security is running out. Even if it somehow stays solvent, there's not enough to go around, or to keep up with inflation.
And stocks and bonds? I think the 2008 financial crisis showed just how flimsy and vulnerable they can be.
Sorry. I don't mean to scare you.
I mean to help you.
I've got some advice — five simple strategies that will supercharge your retirement, multiply your wealth, and generate vivacious streams of income for you to live out your golden years in perfect bliss.
Taken individually, these are independent strategies for wealth accumulation. But applied together, they're a cohesive retirement plan that will give you more than enough income to stay happy.
Follow these five strategies and your wealth will swell. Disregard them, and be content with a pitiful retirement.
Here are the steps you need to take to drastically boost your retirement income...
Tip #1: File and Suspend
First, let's start with the basics.
Most of us know that the longer you delay collecting Social Security, the bigger your monthly payment will be.
That’s why most retirement planners recommend you draw on Social Security, if you can, last of all.
For example, for someone who was born in 1955, their "full retirement age" is 66 and 2 months.
Assuming a final income of $80,000, the Social Security Administration calculates their monthly Social Security check would be around $2,496 before taxes.
But if you can wait just four more years before collecting at age 70 — drawing on 401(k) or other savings accounts — that amount skyrockets to $3,758. That's $1,262 (fully 50%) more per month!
Assuming the average lifespan of 85, that adds an additional $244,415 of extra income per person — or $488,830 for a couple!
Compared to beginning to collect Social Security at age 62, it adds up to $787,320 in additional payments for a typical couple.
But it gets even better for married couples...
Under current law, a spouse cannot claim a spousal benefit unless the main beneficiary claims benefits first. However, once full retirement age (age 66 for those born between 1943 and 1954) is reached, a beneficiary can file for benefits, and then immediately delay those benefits until some future date.
By doing this, his or her spouse can claim a spousal benefit and the main beneficiary can let his or her own retirement benefit grow at 8% per year.
Furthermore, if both spouses have reached FRA, it is possible for the spouse's own benefit to grow due to delayed requirement credits if he/she elects to receive.
Here's an example of how this strategy works...
Suppose a married couple, Husband and Wife, have just turned 66. Wife wants to retire at 66, while Husband wants to work until he's 70.
Husband's monthly Social Security retirement benefit would be $2,000 if he claimed them at age 66. Wife's monthly retirement benefit at age 66 is $900.
If Wife could claim spousal benefits, her monthly check would be $1,000, one-half of her husband's age-66 benefit, but Wife cannot claim a spousal benefit unless Husband files for his own retirement benefits first.
So, taking advantage of the file and suspend option, Husband can file for benefits at age 66 and then immediately delay the payments. His monthly benefits will, as a result, continue to grow, so that he can get the delayed retirement credits and receive at least $2,640 a month when he claims benefits at age 70.
With Husband filing and suspending, Wife can now claim spousal benefits of $1,000 a month while letting her own retirement benefits grow until age 70.
At age 70, her monthly retirement benefits, which will grow because of delayed retirement credits, will be $1,188. And she can claim the higher retirement benefits on her own record.
The file and suspend strategy can also be employed by couples in which only one person has reached full retirement age. In this case, the benefit of the main beneficiary will continue to grow, but the spouse's benefit will not.
The advantage to the spouse, however, is that he or she has the opportunity to draw a spousal benefit in addition to his or her own benefit when the file and suspend option is utilized.
Tip #2: Leveraging the Restricted Application
This is another tip along the lines of the file-and-suspend strategy...
Let's say you're the younger of two in a marriage. Your wife is 74 and has been collecting Social Security benefits for the past nine years. Her monthly benefit is now $1,800.
You, the husband, are turning 66 soon, but you plan to work until you're 70.
In this case, you don't want to file and suspend your benefit at full retirement age.
Instead, you want to file a restricted application. This allows you to file for just your spousal benefit, and in the meantime, earn delayed retirement credits until you do finally stop working.
For each year beyond FRA that you defer taking your retirement benefit, your benefit receives a credit of 8% per year, until age 70.
You need to wait until your full retirement age of 66 to pursue this claiming strategy, just as you would with the file-and-suspend strategy.
Roughly 75% of baby boomers qualify for this benefit, but few have ever heard of it.
Tip #3: Start-Stop-Start
As I mentioned earlier, it's smart to delay taking your Social Security benefit, waiting until age 70 if possible.
The flexibility to start and stop your benefit is yet another important aspect of the agency’s rules regarding full retirement age.
Of course, not everyone can wait that long. There are lots of valid reasons to begin claiming as soon as 62, which normally is the soonest you can receive benefits — even if it means getting a smaller check.
If that's the case for you, remember that there is a provision that lets you withdraw your benefit decision within a year of making it, pay back everything you’ve received from Social Security, and get a fresh start with your claiming record.
This is the “stop” part of the “Start-Stop-Start” strategy.
During this “stop” period, a retiree's benefits will earn delayed retirement credits. And if they suspend for the full four years before their second “start,” their benefit will be 32% higher than when they suspend it. That’s a real 32% gain, too, since the delayed credits include the program’s annual cost-of-living adjustments for inflation.
Now, this person’s benefits at age 70 will still be less than if they had never claimed a reduced benefit. But they’ll still be much higher than if they had never suspended them at their FRA.
Example: You are due a $1,000 retirement benefit at your FRA of 66. It will rise 32% to $1,320 per month if you wait to claim until you turn 70. And it will be reduced 25% to $750 a month if you claim early at age 62.
However, that $750 will rise by 32% to $990 a month if you suspend at age 66 (the “stop”) and resume (the second “start”) at age 70.
That’s less than the $1,320 you’d get if you never claimed benefits at all until you turned 70, but more than $750.
Tip #4: Single Premium Immediate Annuity
One of the biggest challenges facing older people is generating adequate income, especially in the current era of record-low interest rates, without risking a catastrophic loss in a very volatile stock market.
For them, a Single Premium Immediate Annuity (SPIA) is often a good choice.
Basically, a SPIA is a contract with an insurance company. The investor pays a lump sum of money upfront (the premium), and the insurance company pays an amount of money periodically (monthly, for instance) for the rest of the investor's life.
For fixed annuities, the payout is a specified amount each period. For variable annuities, the payout is linked to the performance of a mutual fund. Variable annuities should be avoided.
A fixed annuity is the way to go because it reduces market volatility.
Fixed annuities are helpful because they're reliable, and because they allow for a higher withdrawal rate than you can take from a portfolio of stocks, bonds, and mutual funds over the course of a potentially lengthy retirement.
The amount of interest they pay out depends on the age of the investor.
For example, a typical annuity might pay 5% at age 60, 7.25% at age 65, and 8% at age 80.
So if you want some added kick, you could “layer” multiple annuities.
You might invest $50,000 in a SPIA at age 60, getting a 5%, or $2,500 monthly return, for the rest of your life. Then, once you turn 65, you might invest another $50,000 in a SPIA that pays 7.25%, or $3,625, per month.
That way, you'd be receiving $6,125 per month, instead of the $5,000 you'd be getting if you invested all $100,000 at age 60.
Now, you may be wondering what the catch is...
Well, it's that the investor gives up the right to their money. The insurance company keeps the investment once they die.
In essence, SPIA purchasers who die before their life expectancy end up funding the retirement of SPIA purchasers who live past their life expectancy.
Take, for example, the hypothetical SPIA that pays $2,500 monthly on a $50,000 investment. Well, if you buy that policy at age 60, it will have paid out a total $50,000 by the time you reach age 80. Every year you live after that, you're costing the insurance company money.
You'd also be generating a profit on top of your investment. So much so, that if you lived to age 90, you'd have received $75,000 total — $25,000 more than what you put in.
The insurance company is betting you won't make it that long. It's betting that you'll die before age 80 and thus leave it with more money than what it paid out. That's how it funds other annuities.
So once you do die, your money is gone. You can't leave it to your heirs. That's the catch.
The upshot, though, is a sizable guaranteed return on your money — especially if you take care of yourself.
Fixed SPIAs yield more than savings accounts or bonds, and they're safer and more consistent than stocks or mutual funds.
Tip #5: Master Limited Partnerships
When it comes to retirement the interest is key. You're not looking for capital gains anymore; you're looking for yield.
But where to do you get it?
Savings accounts and Treasuries offer nothing in the way of yield these days.
Junk bonds? Too risky.
So where can you get a decent return on your capital?
MLPs — Master Limited Partnerships.
These are mostly companies that generate strong, stable revenue from energy infrastructure — such as pipelines and storage terminals.
The beauty of MLPs, though, is that they're “toll road” businesses. As such, they're not generally affected by swings in oil and gas prices because tolls are based on the amount of oil and gas being transported or stored. And with U.S. energy production at an all-time high, there's a lot of volume.
MLPs trade like stocks but they aren't normal companies.
They're partnerships that enjoy certain tax benefits (they're exempt from corporate income taxes) and are required by law to distribute their profits to unit-holders.
They do this through extraordinary dividends...
- DCP Midstream Partners LP (NYSE: DPM) yields over 14%.
- The Carlyle Group (NASDAQ: CG) yields 23%.
- Northern Tier Energy LP (NYSE: NTI) yields 18.5%.
- USA Compression Partners LP (NYSE: USAC) yields 23%.
- Alliance Resource Partners (NASDAQ: ARLP) yields 26%.
How does that compare to the return you're getting at your local bank? Or the single-digit return of your stock portfolio?
To put it in perspective, 26% yield means $26,000 on every $100,000 invested. Or a $13,000 return — more than $1,000 per month — on every $50,000 invested.
And you don't even have to invest that much.
You can begin collecting fat payments of 18%, 23%, or even 26% a year, while investing as little as $10 to $20 per unit.
Furthermore, MLPs carry certain tax benefits...
You see, MLPs don't pay taxes on their income the way normal corporations do. Instead, unit-holders are responsible for the taxes.
However, rather than pay taxes right away, you can deduct them from your cost basis. Typically taxes are only paid when the MLPs are sold.
This can have a powerful long-term benefit.
Let's say you invested $10,000 in an MLP. If you hold the units long enough, eventually your cost basis will go to $0. As long as you don't sell, the $10,000 of otherwise taxable income will be permanently deferred from the IRS.
You can also pass MLP units on to your heirs, and as long as they don't sell them, they don't have to pay taxes, either. But again, this only applies as long as your cost basis is above zero.
When your cost basis does reach zero, most of the return of capital is taxed as long-term capital gains. This, too, is beneficial, because long-term capital gains taxes are much lower than regular income tax levels.
For the vast majority of investors, the capital gains taxes paid on income earned by MLPs (once the cost basis has hit zero) is 0% or 15%.
Even if you're in the top tax bracket, you end up paying half the tax rate compared to what you would pay if distributions were taxed as ordinary income.
I know Social Security, and retirement in general, can be confusing, but I hope this helps.
Look, I know this is a lot to take in. So don't be afraid to carefully reread the five sections in this report, or to raise questions with your financial adviser, or accountant.
Here are the important things to remember:
1. Filing and Suspending
In this case, you delay your Social Security payment as long as possible.
And if you have a spouse, you can file for your Social Security and then delay it, allowing them to collect the spouse benefit while your individual payments grow.
2. The Restricted Application
This allows you to file for just your spousal benefit, and in the meantime, earn delayed retirement credits until you do finally stop working.
A little-known provision that lets you withdraw your benefit decision within a year of making it, pay back everything you’ve received from Social Security, and get a fresh start with your claiming record.
4. Single Premium Immediate Annuity
These are agreements you make with an insurance company. You give them a sum upfront, and they keep it. In return, they pay you fixed amount for the rest of your life.
If you live long enough, they'll pay you back more than you pay in.
And as you get older you can add more than one annuity for a higher return.
5. Master Limited Partnerships
These are special companies that pay out high-yielding dividends. They also carry numerous tax benefits that let you keep money.
Again, I know Social Security and retirement plans can be confusing, so I hope this helps. By exploring these options, you can drastically improve your quality of life.