Buy peace of mind cheaply
Buy peace of mind cheaply

Which do you fear more: dying or outliving your savings?

For 61% of the 44- to 75-year-olds in a 2010 Allianz study, the retirement poorhouse was the more frightening prospect. And a trio of studies this year from Financial Engines, Scottrade, and Accenture confirm that running out of money is among most people's top retirement concerns.

A longevity annuity, which assures you of lifetime income in the future for a relatively small premium today, can help ease those worries. Just as with an immediate annuity, you fork over some money at retirement -- say, 10% to 20% of your savings -- in exchange for monthly checks for life.

Instead of the income coming right away, however, longevity annuity payments don't start for 10 or 20 years after you invest. It's a risk: If you die before they begin, you get nothing.

Balancing that risk is the prospect of getting a substantial influx of cash regularly at a time when your retirement savings may be dwindling. A deferred annuity purchased for $50,000 at age 65, for instance, might pay around $2,500 a month starting at 85; to get that same check via an immediate annuity at 85, you'd pay more than $200,000.

Sure, you could just invest the 50 grand yourself, but to generate the same income at 85, you'd need to average gains in excess of 7% annually. "A longevity annuity seems like a terrific bargain," says planner Harold Evensky.

  @Money - Last updated September 25 2012 11:24 AM ET
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