Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Ready to Beat CD Rates, Worried about the Stock Market and Safety? Try Annuities!

Long considered a CD alternative, annuities have become very popular today. Paying higher rates than CD's and deferring taxes, many people on a fixed income find annuities are a better option than tying up money in CD's or letting it warehouse in a money market account… Like a CD, you can place lump sums of money in annuities. You must leave the money in the annuity for a period of years, usually between 2 and 10 years. The longer you leave the money in, the higher your interest rate will be. Depending on the annuity purchased, a yearly amount is allowed to be withdrawn without a penalty. This amount is usually around 10%.
Is an Annuity Right for me?
In the past, annuities were considered investments only for people nearing retirement. But today, annuities can be smart investments for people of all ages. Remember, an annuity can be invested in a variety of different investment instruments, offering everything from modest to fast capital growth alternatives. The following are good uses for annuities:
You need a higher interest-rate alternative to Certificates of Deposit(CD's) and money market funds
You want to make your long-term savings grow faster without current taxation.
You need to save more for retirement, but you have "maxed out" your IRA and 401(k) or 403(b).
You need to roll over (reinvest) existing tax-deferred savings, like pension plans.
You need to guarantee yourself an income for the rest of your life.
You need to guarantee yourself an income for the rest of your life and your spouse’s life.
For purchasers of a special type of annuity called an Index Annuity, you want to protect your "principal" with a guaranteed rate of return while investing in the equity markets. Beyond tax advantages, there are important reasons to invest in an annuity, especially when you consider the limitations of other types of investments.

Free $$$ Advice
“I’m debating between investing in a Roth IRA and a traditional IRA. I’ve heard the Roth is a better choice. Can you tell me why?”

With a traditional IRA, your contributions will likely be tax deductible (depending on your income and whether you contribute to a 401 (k) plan. So when you contribute, say, $1,000 into a traditional IRA, you get to deduct that amount on your taxes. The money then grows tax-free until you withdraw it at age 59 ½ or later. At that time you’ll need to pay ordinary income tax on the distribution you receive.
With a Roth IRA, however, you pay income taxes on your money before you put it in. But that’s it-- if you follow the rules, you never pay a penny more in federal taxes on your nest egg, no matter how large it grows (provided you don’t touch the money until after you turn 59 ½).
Most experts compare these plans side by side and will tell you the Roth IRA is the better choice, because all of the money will come out tax-free later, so you’ll have more money when you need it at retirement. But consider this: If you save $1,000 in a pre-tax traditional IRA, you need to save only $1,000 into a Roth IRA, you actually need to save more, because you are putting in after-tax dollars. So putting $1,000 into a Roth IRA today may really cost you closer to $1,500 depending on your tax bracket.
You have to decide which is worth more to you: the money you’ll save in taxes now by deducting your IRA contributions this year, or the money you’ll save later by not having to pay taxes on your IRA withdrawals when you retire. A good rule of thumb is that if you are more than 10 years away from retirement, you’ll most likely come out ahead with a Roth IRA.
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