First, let’s get some terminology straight. Investors are savers. Savers can be investors. Why the distinction? Because investments pay a higher rate of return than a bank or credit union savings fund; but both necessitate actually saving money and putting money aside for whatever purpose you choose.
The Passing of the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981 was when the concept of IRAs really took off and grew as an employee benefit from many companies. Different companies offer various levels of matching contributions to their employee contributions. The contributions made by employees to IRAs and other retirement accounts grow on a tax-deferred basis. In other words, your annual contributions are not taxed until you actually withdraw monies down the road. This helps reduce tax liabilities during the years when one expects to earn more income.
As you know, there are caps on yearly contributions to IRAs and ROTH IRAs and most people want to invest more for that “someday” when they can retire. Even if that day seems too far away to imagine.
Two well known investment options are Mutual Funds and Annuities. So what is the difference? Greater than most people realize and those differences translate into considerable financial savings.
A mutual fund is an investment vehicle comprised of a pool of money collected from many investors for the purpose of investing in securities such as stocks, bonds, etc. Mutual funds enable small individual investors’ access to professionally managed portfolios of equities, bonds. and so forth. Shareholder participates proportionally in the gains or losses of the fund.
Because the average mutual fund contains hundreds of different securities, this means mutual fund shareholders gain important diversification at a very low price and at a relatively low risk index. Dimensional Fund Advisors (DFA) offers high-quality, moderately priced mutual funds with all analysis based on academic reasoning … not on fly-by-night trends and fads.
A huge added bonus for the investor is that most financial planners do not charge a commission on purchase of DFA funds.
That brings us to Annuities. An annuity is a financial product that pays out a fixed stream of payments to an individual and is primarily used as an income stream for retirees.
Annuities are sold by investment and insurance companies; both charge a relatively high commission and an annual handling/processing fee. Deposits into annuity contracts are typically locked for a period of time (surrender period) where the annuitant incurs a penalty if all or part of the money is touched.
Annuities require a size able amount of cash outlay upfront with pay-out a number of years down the road. If you’ve just won the Mega-Millions Lottery, an annuity would be a smart move. If you haven’t; stick with Mutual Funds.