Since turning 60 last year, I’ve been thinking a lot more about retirement and find my thoughts often locked in a mental tug of war. Some days I’m confident I’ll have the money I need to enjoy life on my terms; other days I panic that I haven’t saved enough.

Who can blame me? Statistics say I have dozens of years of retirement ahead of me. The average American now lives to 881—and at least 25 percent of 65-year-old married couples have one spouse who will live to at least 97.2

Yet, the average working-age couple has only $5,000 saved for retirement.3 And nearly half of Americans haven’t saved anything at all.4 Yikes.

Perhaps those couples plan to rely solely on Social Security. Earlier in my life, I certainly did. But then I learned that Social Security replaces, on average, only 40 percent of a person’s previous income.5 Double-yikes.

No wonder so many of us are facing a sizeable retirement income gap, meaning we will have more money going out than coming in.

Ready, set… prepare

Thankfully, I’ve saved more than $5,000, but I sometimes lose sleep wondering if it will be enough.

I’m not the only one who worries. According to a national survey of financial planners, fear of outliving one’s assets tops the list of concerns for future retirees—even among high-net worth individuals.6

How well-prepared are you for retirement?
Take this Wall Street Journal quiz to find out.

Why are so many of us unprepared financially for retirement or uncertain that we’re taking the right steps?

One reason is the shift from company-funded pension plans to self-funded 401(k) plans, which means that most of us can no longer plan on predictable monthly income throughout retirement. Instead, we must plan ahead, proactively choosing to contribute—and invest—a portion of our pay in our 401(k).

Unfortunately, most of us aren’t saving enough or allocating our assets appropriately. Even if we are, a market downturn could significantly crack or even break our nest eggs. Just think back to the 2008 financial crisis when the Dow dropped 50 percent in just 18 months,7 leaving many retirees with a huge gap between their assets and expenses.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. According to the Washington, D.C.-based Alliance for Lifetime Income, a nonprofit made up of 24 financial services organizations, lifetime protected income in the form of an annuity can help bridge the retirement income gap when your savings, Social Security and other income falls short of meeting your expenses.†‡

Could investing in annuities be the right strategy for you?

While annuities aren’t right for everyone, they can be a powerful tool to help plan for and enjoy retirement.

Annuities may fluctuate and lose value, but unlike other investments, the income check will remain the consistent regardless of the market. Annuities are issued by insurance companies; they have the unique ability to guarantee an income check for a set number of years. 

What’s more, an annuity, with the purchase of an add-on benefit (available for an additional charge), can provide a steady stream of lifetime income that’s unaffected by interest rate fluctuations or market downturns. Your “income checks” even have the potential to keep growing, a definite plus if you, like me, intend to spend dozens of years in retirement.

To test your retirement readiness and learn more about how annuities can help you enjoy retirement on your terms, visit and take this Wall Street Journal quiz.



2 Merrill Lynch, “Annuities for Lifetime Income,” 2016. Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, IMG Retirement Strategies calculations based on Society of Actuaries, 2012 Individuals Mortality Rate Tables, Basic.







* What is an annuity:

An annuity is a long-term, tax-deferred vehicles designed for retirement. Variable annuities may involve investment risk and may lose value. Earnings are taxable as ordinary income when distributed and may be subject to a 10% additional tax if withdrawn before age 59½.

† Guarantees are backed by the claims paying ability of the issuing insurance company. 

‡ Optional benefits are available for an extra charge in addition to the ongoing fees and expenses of the variable annuity.

Investing involves risk, including possible loss of principal.

The opinions and forecasts expressed are those of the author and individuals quoted and should not be construed as a recommendation or as complete.

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