Where is your retirement money safest?

Finances

When it comes to saving for retirement, many experts recommend following the 50-30-20 rule: no more than 50 percent of your monthly budget should be used for necessities, no more than 30 percent for discretionary spending, and at least 20 percent for savings. Where you put that 20 percent, however, can have a profound influence on whether you’ll have what you need to live the life you want in retirement.

"Current life expectancy is around 80 years old, meaning many of us will exceed that," says Jane Bryant Quinn, author of How to Make Your Money Last: The Indispensable Retirement Guide.

Counting on that, Quinn says you need to think of yourself as a long-term investor, even as you head into your 50s. "For most of us, that means staying in the stock market, but not buying individual stocks."

Once you hit age 60, your total stock allocation can drop to about 40 percent or less (depending on your risk tolerance), while the rest of your money should go into less volatile offerings, such as Treasury bonds or annuities. Treasury bonds offer guaranteed interest payments for a fixed period of time, such as 10 years, then a return of principal at the end.

For retirees who want a dependable stream of income for life, a fixed annuity can be a smart choice. Fixed annuities are insurance products you buy with either a lump sum or periodic payments, and then you can receive a guaranteed paycheck for life.

Fixed annuities also offer protection against market downturns of the stock market and individual stocks, giving you a minimum rate guarantee. These rates are typically slightly higher than comparative offerings, like CDs, without any risk to your principal.

"Fixed annuities are an especially good option for healthy individuals because they can continue to pay out for as long as you live," says Quinn.

You can use the income from your fixed annuity to pay bills, or put it toward your retirement more—like travel, hobbies, personal passions or leisure activities.

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