gray and red metal shopping cart in store
There are a variety of ways to save for retirement. When weighing their alternatives, though, many people are concerned about maintaining a steady income stream in retirement.
An annuity, thankfully, solves the income stream problem, but it raises the question of what exactly is an annuity and how do I pick one. We’ll provide you a fast 101 guide for non-biased customers in this post.

What is an annuity, exactly?

An annuity is a contract that promises a fixed amount of money for a certain length of time. They are contracts that are distributed or sold by a financial institution and are used to invest the cash you pay.
They’re generally employed by retirees since they assist them reduce the chance of outliving their resources. In a nutshell, you pay a lump sum up front, and the corporation repays you every month.
The age at which payments begin, payment intervals, and other parameters will be determined by these contracts.

What are the various kinds of annuities?


These are quite straightforward. A fixed annuity pays the people who signed the contract on a regular basis.
Fixed annuities ensure that an investor receives a predictable return on their investment. They provide a guaranteed rate of return for the duration of the contract.
These are beneficial because they facilitate budgeting, provide a feeling of control and clarity, and ensure a profit. While they are excellent, they have restricted returns, fees, and may expose you to inflation.


Your balance and payments in a variable annuity are based on the market’s performance. A variable annuity may easily be compared to an individual retirement account (IRA).
They’re both tax-deferred retirement savings accounts with tax-deferred growth. When you start receiving payments, you’ll have to pay income taxes at your marginal rate.
Variable annuities, on the other hand, allow you to make unlimited yearly payments to a tax-advantaged account. Because IRAs and 401(k)s have contribution restrictions, this is not the same as a Roth IRA or a Roth 401(k).
Variable annuities are beneficial because they provide a steady lifetime income, optimize tax advantages, and have the potential to raise future payments to you. However, there are certain hazards involved.
The contracts have relatively high costs and unpredictably big rewards. At the same time, if you need to access your annuity money, you must pay a surrender charge.


The most basic form is an instant annuity. You just have to make a single significant investment up front.
This payment is then transformed into a guaranteed income stream for a certain amount of time. Immediate annuities may last for the rest of your life.
You have the option of receiving payments right now or deferring them for a year. These annuities might run anything from five years to a lifetime.
Your income is partly tax-free, which provides certain tax benefits. For people who wish to be safe, having a steady, stable income may be the best alternative.
Finally, you may have additional protection choices, such as a cost of living adjustment to shield you against inflation. There’s also a liquidity option that lets you withdraw money from your accounts.
However, keep in mind that not all businesses will provide these services. If you already have a good salary or don’t have a lot of retirement funds, this isn’t the greatest option.


An instant annuity is quite similar to a delayed annuity. The buyer choose when the payments will begin. Deferred payments are beneficial since they give your money more time to grow in your account.
In addition, the annuity, like a 401k or an IRA, continues to grow profits tax-free until the money is withdrawn. That implies it might add up to a greater amount for you, resulting in higher payments. Fixed or variable deferred annuities are still available.

Indexed to the stock market

An equity-indexed annuity is a fixed annuity whose interest rate is tied to a specific index, such as the S&P 500. The contract’s growth rate will be determined by the insurance company.
Equity-indexed annuities are tricky since insurers will compute the index return using a variety of methodologies.
You won’t know exactly how much you’ll receive back, but the calculations should give you a good approximation. In addition, when computing index returns, equity-indexed annuities sometimes exclude reinvested dividends and have significant surrender costs.

Which is the best option for me?

The short answer is that it depends. When you want your payments, how much certainty and guarantee you want, and how much risk you’re ready to face are all factors to consider.
The vast majority of individuals looking for one will opt for instant annuities. An instant annuity may be the ideal choice for you if your primary worry is having an income stream that you won’t be able to outlive.
Deferred annuities may be the greatest option for you if you’re a planner who likes to plan ahead. Of course, you’ll have to set up the account before you can start receiving money, but you’ll be safe.
For those who wish to be safe, immediate, deferred, and fixed annuities will be the ideal options.
The variable annuity may be the best option for you if you’re ready to play the game and risk some volatility. Finally, fixed index annuities are the ideal option for individuals who have some time until they want income.
Fixed index annuities provide more potential for larger returns while removing the risk. Fixed index annuities are the greatest option if you can prepare ahead of time.
At the end of the day, it is determined by your requirements and circumstances. Choose immediate, delayed, fixed, and fixed index annuities if you want to be protected. If you’re ready to take a chance, variable annuities are the way to go.

When to avoid purchasing an annuity

Not everyone is a good fit for annuities. There’s no need to purchase one if you already have anything to cover your retirement.
You shouldn’t purchase one if your normal costs are covered by social security or other pension benefits. If you’re looking for a quick buck, this isn’t the greatest option.
Thanks to Matt Rowe at Business 2 Community whose reporting provided the original basis for this story.