Deciding where to invest your money significantly affects your financial health. Understanding each of the available options and assessing their benefits and drawbacks is essential in ensuring you make an informed choice.
Fixed vs. variable annuities are two popular investment strategies for individuals. Still, there are differences between them that you should be aware of before deciding which one best fits your financial goals.
In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of each option so that you can gain greater insight into these investment vehicles and arrive at a sound decision concerning which avenue may work best for you.
Overview of Variable and Fixed Annuities
Variable and fixed annuities are financial products that provide regular payments to investors for a certain period, or even for the rest of their lives, in exchange for a lump sum investment.
Variable annuities offer more growth potential as they invest in a portfolio of securities and provide more flexibility in choosing investment options, while fixed annuities offer a guaranteed fixed rate of return and more security for conservative investors.
Both products can help investors plan for retirement, protect their assets, and provide a steady income stream. It is essential to consult a financial advisor and use tools like a whole life insurance calculator to assess your financial needs and choose the product that aligns with your long-term goals.
Pros and Cons of Variable Annuities
Variable annuities come with a range of benefits. Chief among them is that they offer investors access to markets like stocks, bonds, and mutual funds without incurring the risks associated with these investments. They also provide tax-deferred growth potential and death benefit protection for beneficiaries in case of the investor’s passing.
However, variable annuities come with some drawbacks. They may carry higher fees than other investment products and can involve a certain degree of market risk depending on the type of investments in the portfolio. Furthermore, they are not insured by the FDIC or any government agency and are subject to withdrawal penalties if funds are taken out before a specified period.
Pros and Cons of Fixed Annuities
Fixed annuities are particularly appealing for conservative investors. They provide a fixed rate of return guaranteed by the issuing institution, meaning that you will always receive a certain percentage in interest regardless of market conditions. Furthermore, these products come with tax-deferred growth potential and death benefit protection, as with variable annuities.
Conversely, fixed annuities typically must catch up with inflation and have less growth potential than other investment options like stocks. Furthermore, they come with surrender charges if funds are withdrawn before a specific period.
Understanding Tax Implications of Both Types of Annuities
It is essential to understand the tax implications of annuities before making a decision. With variable annuities, distributions are taxed as ordinary income. The same holds for fixed-rate annuities if you take a lump sum distribution, whereas distributions taken over time are subject to long-term capital gains taxes.
It is also important to remember that any contributions you make to a variable annuity are not tax deductible, whereas contributions made to fixed annuities can be used as deductions. However, both investments will be subject to the 10% penalty if funds are taken out before age 59 ½ (unless it is a qualified withdrawal).
Questions to Consider When Making a Decision Between the Two Types of Annuities
When it comes to choosing between variable and fixed annuities, there are a few key questions to ask yourself:
- What are the fees associated with each option?
- What is my time frame for needing the money?
- How much risk am I comfortable taking on?
- Do I need death benefit protection?
- What are the tax implications?
- Can I afford to lock away my funds for a certain period?
Answering these questions can help determine which annuity option suits your financial circumstances. Regardless of which type of annuity you choose, it’s important to remember that both products offer numerous benefits and can help you plan for retirement and maintain financial stability.
How to Choose an Investment Professional to Help With Your Decision
When deciding between variable and fixed annuities, an experienced financial advisor can be invaluable. Take the time to research and compare professionals to find someone who meets your specific needs and has a proven track record of helping clients reach their financial goals.
It would help if you also looked for advisors certified by organizations like the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) or the Certified Financial Planners Board of Standards Inc. (CFP Board). Doing so can ensure you work with a knowledgeable and qualified professional with your best interests in mind.
How to Get Started Investing in Annuities
If you’re ready to invest in annuities, research the range of options available. Start by comparing different providers and their offerings to determine which product best suits your financial goals.
You should also take the time to read through any contracts you are presented with and look for details on fees, commissions, and other charges associated with each product. Finally, consult a professional who can answer any questions and help you make an informed decision.
Investing in annuities can be a great way to plan for retirement and secure your financial future. Researching different products, assessing your needs, and consulting with experts can ensure that you make the right choice for you. With due diligence and good planning, annuity investing can be brilliant.