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Until a few decades ago, many workers had the security of a pension or a guaranteed retirement benefit. With this aspect of their lives mostly taken care of, they could focus on saving for other goals like paying for their children’s college tuition or travel.
Then again, people were a lot more likely to stay at their jobs for a lifetime back then. Many people, including people in my own family, spent their entire lives working for one company so they could retire after 30+ years with all of their retirement needs taken care of.
Fast forward to 2018 and our lives rarely work out like that anymore. Workers are a lot more likely to change jobs, and those who do stay in the same career don’t always have a guaranteed retirement plan.
As the freelance economy takes hold, this will obviously get worse. According to a 2017 study from Upwork, nearly 50% of millennials were already freelancing last year. Further, they predict that more than half of all American workers will be freelancers by 2027. Freelancing is wonderful and all, and I should know since I’ve been self-employed since 2013. But, you get zero benefits when you work for yourself, and you certainly don’t get a pension.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to save for retirement on your own. Blueprint Income’s Personal Pension is one way to secure your own retirement because it creates a pension-like stream of income you can secure independent from your employer. This plan provides guaranteed income in retirement just like an employer pension would, with the exception that your check will come from an insurance company.
Why Just Investing in the Market for Retirement Is Risky
Without employers providing pensions, most of us are preparing for retirement with market investments like stocks, bonds, ETFs, and index funds. Thanks to 401(k)s, IRAs, and companies like Vanguard or Betterment, it’s really easy to do today. But, they leave us exposed to some risks that we might not be thinking of. These are risks that people didn’t have to worry about when they had pensions.
The Risk That You Outlive Your Savings (Longevity Risk)
Retirement is tricky to prepare for because we don’t know how long it’ll last. Do we need to save enough money for a 20-year retirement? Or a 30-year retirement? We don’t know because it depends on how long we live. With retirement savings, we have no guarantee that they’ll last as long as we’re alive. Programs like Social Security, pensions, and annuities don’t have this risk because they provide income that lasts as long as you live.
The Risk That You Lose Money in the Market (Market Risk)
Any money we have invested in the stock or bond markets is susceptible to market volatility, i.e. the market moving up and down. When we’re young, it’s okay because we have time to recover from the market downturns. But as we get closer to retirement (or once we’re in retirement), a market downturn could seriously impact our livelihoods. That’s why it’s important to have a diversified approach to preparing for retirement with some money that’s not in the market. Pensions and annuities provide that diversification.
How Does Blueprint Income Work?
At this point, you’re probably wondering how and why your check would come from an insurance company. That’s because Blueprint Income creates your pension-like income using annuities.
Once you open an account, the money you deposit into your Personal Pension gets converted into annuities via Blueprint Income’s insurance providers. These low-cost, fully guaranteed annuities then provide a set amount of income starting at an age of your choosing and pay this amount for life. As you continue adding money, the monthly payment you receive in retirement only increases.
In case you’re not too familiar with annuities, they are longevity insurance products. Instead of paying your family when you pass away like a life insurance policy would, annuities pay you a fixed amount of money as long as you’re alive.
There has been a lot of bad press about annuities lately, and it’s understandable. After all, many annuities on the market are complicated, expensive, or both. However, Blueprint Income only offers income annuities, which are typically considered the most classic type. These annuities only have one goal — providing you with a guaranteed lifetime income starting on the day you want to begin receiving payments or the day you retire.
The best part about Blueprint Income is the fact that consumers don’t actually pay a fee for the annuities they buy through the program. Instead, Blueprint Income is paid by insurance providers for setting them up. The one-time commission paid to Blueprint Income is between 1% and 4% each time money is deposited, and it’s set by the insurer. According to Blueprint Income, no other fees or charges will be incurred. However, it is important to note that costs for administering your annuity do impact the level of payments quoted by the insurers.
How to Use Blueprint Income as Part of Your Retirement Plan
If you’re someone who wants guaranteed payments in retirement, don’t forget that you don’t have to forsake traditional retirement savings to consider this option. You can set up a Personal Pension with Blueprint Income and still save in other ways, such as a work-sponsored 401(k), a Solo 401(k), an SEP IRA, and a Roth IRA. Blueprint Income is totally separate from those accounts, and you don’t set it up through your employer — you do it on your own.
Also keep in mind that, to invest with Blueprint Income, you only need $5,000 to get started. This is a huge departure from the $100,000 or more you typically need to purchase a traditional income annuity with guaranteed income in retirement. And, that $5,000 can come from your existing retirement savings, like a Traditional/Roth IRA or 401(k) rollover. (The Personal Pension can have the same tax-preferred status as IRAs!)
Since Blueprint Income accepts small, recurring payments and uses them to buy annuities on your behalf, you can use it in conjunction with your other retirement accounts and budget for the plan in the same way. Set up weekly, monthly, or payday contributions like you would to any other retirement account, and the cash you stash away will add up over time and continually increase the monthly payment you receive in the end. You do have to contribute at least $100 at a time, but you can change the size of your contributions any time you want.
A Personal Pension generates an infinite amount of guaranteed monthly income that lasts as long as you do. Instead of being invested in the market like your 401(k) plan, however, the Personal Pension is a portfolio of income annuities guaranteed by life insurance companies.
For that reason, this plan is best used in conjunction with other types of retirement saving — not in place of them.
Is Blueprint Income for You?
As self-employed business owners, we are on our own when it comes to saving for retirement. So far, we have chosen to do things the easy way. For example, both my husband and I set up Solo 401(k) accounts with Vanguard and we max them out. We buy index funds to diversify, and we contribute the same big sum every month. We also own rental properties. This combination of strategies allows us to minimize fees while increasing our exposure in both real estate and the stock market.
Still, I can see why someone would choose to invest in an annuity that offers guaranteed income for life as part of their retirement savings plan. Signs that Blueprint Income could be for you include:
- You are already saving for retirement on your own but want a guaranteed payment every month.
- You prefer investing conservatively and might already have bonds in your portfolio.
- You already take full advantage of your employer match.
- You are healthy, plan to live for a long, long time, and don’t want to run out of money.
- You’re worried about your ability to manage spending in retirement, especially as you age.
Downsides of Investing with Blueprint Income
While it’s easy to see why someone would choose this option to supplement their retirement, there are still notable downsides to consider here. Reasons you may not want to invest in annuities with Blueprint Income include:
- You cannot withdraw your contributions from these accounts like you can with savings and certain types of retirement accounts like a Roth IRA. You also cannot surrender your Personal Pension as it has no cash value.
- While you do not pay any fees upfront, costs associated with your annuities do impact the level of payments you receive once you retire. Here’s how Blueprint Income words it on their website: “All of the expenses incurred by the insurance company, including the distribution fee paid to us, are reflected in the size of the retirement paycheck they can offer.”
- Where investing in the stock market will bring you a return you can gauge, it’s a lot more difficult to know the rate of return you’re receiving on your money via Blueprint Income. According to their website, “Your Personal Pension is not a typical investment. It’s a member of the fixed income family, like bonds, but does not have a maturity date. Instead, your Personal Pension will generate income for as long as you’re alive. Living until your life expectancy will generally produce a return comparable to a long-term A-rated bond. The longer you live, the higher your effective return will be, and vice versa.”
Should You Invest with Blueprint Income?
At the end of the day, Blueprint Income is one way to invest for retirement. It’s not a perfect concept, but it’s a decent one to consider if you’re someone who wants guaranteed income of some sort when you retire. As with any big financial decision, you’ll want to make sure to read the fine print and understand the pros and cons before you pull the trigger.
Have you considered investing with Blueprint Income? If so, please share your experience in the comments.