Podcast Episode- Suze School: Understanding Annuities

Finacial Planning, Investing, Saving

April 09, 2023

Listen to Podcast Episode:

Suze does not hate all annuities.  Today’s Suze School is a lesson on the different types of annuities and which ones might be a good option for you and definitely which types to avoid.

Podcast Transcript:


Suze: April 9th, everybody, 2023. Welcome to the Women and Money podcast as well as everybody smart enough to listen, Suze O here and Happy Easter Passover and Ramadan. You know, I just want to say that I personally love when these three holidays fall at the same time of year.


Suze: And this morning, there will be a sunrise ceremony for the entire island as there is every year at the Davis residency and 100 or 200 people will come and they all come together as one. And I love that, regardless of their faith.


Suze: And that's something that I can only pray will be true for everybody in this world


Suze: because as time goes on,


Suze: it just seems like we're getting more and more and more divided and in my personal opinion, going back in time and I just find it all such a travesty.


Suze: However, until then there is one thing we all need to do and that is to be one with our money. As you know, over the past 40 years, all the work my entire life, my work with money has been based on the theory that you and your money are one


Suze: That your money cannot do anything without you.


Suze: And that if you aren't in touch with who you are, you also aren't in touch with your money. As you have to know about who you are and how you deal with things. You also have to know certain things just about how money works.


Suze: And it seems that one of the topics that you really wanted me to talk about as I was looking on the Women and Money community app, hopefully all of you are joining us on the Women and Money community app by simply downloading it at Apple apps or Google Play. That's where I get a lot of questions that sometimes I answer there more than anywhere else now.


Suze: And it's really been an incredible forming of a community where all of you are helping one another. With that said, however, I just have to say that when somebody on the community answers your question,


Suze: just make sure that their answer is correct.


Suze: So it's nice that you help one another. But if you're confused or whatever it is, make sure you hear it from me directly. All right. So, one of the areas that all of you really have wanted me to tackle, because you are just so confused about it is on annuities. And so that's what the Suze School is going to be about today. But before I get there,


Suze: I just have to say I am so blown away


Suze: by the response to last week's webinar that I gave where over 60,000 people viewed it the entire hour


Suze: viewed that webinar and the response we got was over the top. It was the best they've ever seen. It helped them and on and on. So normally when I do a live webinar,


Suze: we rebroadcast it for those of you who couldn't be there, live for that weekend, like two or three days and then it goes away.


Suze: We have gotten thousands and when I say thousands, I mean, thousands of responses saying, "please show the webinar again, please, my friends told me it was the best thing they ever saw." So sometime in April this month, we will show it again and I will let you know when that is. Also for those of you


Suze: Who are on the waiting list for the Ultimate Retirement Guide for 50 plus, never dawned on me that over 20,000 of those would sell out right away.


Suze: So they will be in, in the next two or three weeks and we will ship them out to you as you know, they are $10 including shipping for a New York Times best seller, hardback. And I think you will love it when you read it. All right. Let's get to annuities. All of you need to understand that I do not hate all annuities.


Suze: Can you write that down in your little Suze Notebook, Suze Orman does not hate all annuities. In fact, there was a time


Suze: in the United States, for years, actually that I was the number one advisor and salesperson, so to speak...


Suze: In getting people to buy single premium deferred annuities. I was putting my clients to the tune of about $20 million dollars a year,


Suze: obviously with a lot of people into annuities. So there are some annuities at specific times in the economy that I absolutely love.


Suze: And then there are some annuities that I absolutely do not love. So you need to get that straight.


Suze: There are different varieties of annuities. There are single premium deferred annuities which I tend to absolutely love, in many circumstances. There are variable annuities which I tend to not love in most circumstances. There are indexed annuities which I can be hot and cold on. I think there are better ways to invest your money.


Suze: There are income annuities which if you are looking for guaranteed income specifically while interest rates are high right now. And I talk about this in the ultimate retirement guide for 50 plus, I do not have a problem with them.


Suze: And then there are tax sheltered annuities which are annuities that many people, especially teachers. That's where their retirement accounts tend to go. I don't really have a problem with those either.


Suze: So we will be breaking down. Now, every single one of those annuities and how they differ and the pros and cons of each one


Suze: A few minutes ago, I made the assumption that you already had out your little Suze Notebooks. So, if I was wrong with that assumption, get them out now.


Suze: Let's first start with what is an annuity


Suze: And an annuity is a contract with an insurance company


Suze: where you are usually the insured known as the annuitant. You also usually are the owner


Suze: and the beneficiary is whoever you want the annuity to go to upon your death


Suze: Because it is a contract with an insurance company that has an insured, again known as an annuitant.


Suze: the interest or the growth that your money earns is tax deferred, which means you do not pay taxes on it until you withdraw it. And when they are purchased outside of a retirement account, they are known as non-qualified annuities. Write it down


Suze: If you purchase an annuity within a retirement account, it's known as a qualified annuity,


Suze: especially if the retirement account is a traditional retirement account, meaning it's a non-ROTH retirement account or a pre-taxed retirement account. So a qualified annuity is, you have never paid taxes on the money that is in that annuity,


Suze: A non-qualified annuity is an annuity that you have funded with money that you have already paid taxes on. Let's talk about non-qualified annuities that are outside of retirement accounts.


Suze: All non-qualified annuities usually have the exact same laws governing them.


Suze: And the laws are not only by the United States government, but they're also by the insurance company itself.


Suze: Now, whether you know it or not, most annuities pay a very hefty commission to the financial advisor who is selling you that annuity. There are many annuities that are issued possibly by Vanguard or other companies that do not have commissions on it.


Suze: But most do. How would you know


Suze: If an annuity has a surrender charge?


Suze: and a surrender charge means that you deposit, let's just say $10,000 into an annuity,


Suze: and the annuity contract states that you have got to keep your money in there for at least 7-10 years.


Suze: And if you take it out before that period of time, there will be what's called a surrender charge that you will have to pay and the surrender charge can start at 10%


Suze: going all the way down to 0% over those seven or 10 years. Now, why is there a surrender charge? There is a surrender charge because that usually equates to the amount of commission


Suze: that the sales person or the financial advisor was paid to sell you that annuity. If you come out of that annuity before the company that issued, the annuity can get back the commission they paid to the financial advisor by the fees that are within the annuity,


Suze: they want to make sure that you are responsible for that deficit. So there are some annuities that let's say have a seven year surrender charge.


Suze: And maybe if you come out before the surrender charge is up in those seven years, you could pay 7% of what you take out, the first year, the second year, the third year and then maybe it starts to go down to 5% 4% 3%. So by the time the insurance company has gotten back all of their fees that they paid out to the financial advisor who got their commission upfront by the way,


Suze: that's when the surrender fees or charges go away. If you have an annuity that there are no surrender charges for you to come out of. That's usually an annuity that didn't pay a commission for a salesperson to sell it to you or a financial advisor. So, those are


Suze: the fees from the annuity. Also, the government comes in here, where if you withdraw any money from your annuity


Suze: before the age of 59 a half,


Suze: they will charge you a 10% penalty fee. Exactly the way an IRA works or a retirement account. If you take money out of the retirement account before the age of 59 a half, you pay, unless it's a Roth, you pay a 10% tax penalty, right? The same is true with an annuity. Why is that true?


Suze: It's because again, an annuity is a contract with an insurance company.


Suze: And because you are the annuitant, there is an annuitant, which means an insured person that is how they get it to be tax deferred


Suze: You have two words that you have just learned, you've learned non-qualified annuity, which means you have funded it with money, you have already paid taxes on


Suze: and now you have the next word which is tax deferred


Suze: And annuities, all annuities are tax deferred, meaning you do not pay taxes on it while the money is in there. But when you do go to take it out, you will pay ordinary income tax on any amount of money that you take out.


Suze: And if you are under the age of 59.5, you will also pay a 10% tax penalty.


Suze: Are we clear here?


Suze: So there are penalties and surrender fees that are imposed upon most annuities by the insurance company itself as well as the government.


Suze: That's important for you to understand


Suze: Next, in most annuities, you buy a tax deferred annuity


Suze: and it goes up and up and up and up in value and you die and it goes to your beneficiaries, they will have to pay ordinary income tax on any money


Suze: that they have inherited above what you originally put in. So right now, what I'm doing is I'm giving you a general overview of annuities.


Suze: And again, this applies to all annuities except for income annuities, normally also known as immediate income annuities where you have started income right away. But I'll get to that in a little bit.


Suze: So when you go to withdraw money for yourself, you will pay ordinary income tax on any amount of money that you do withdraw.


Suze: If you die and you leave your annuity to anybody. When they withdraw the money, they will have to pay income tax, ordinary income tax on that money as well.


Suze: So you put in $10,000 and over the years, it has gone up and up and up and now let's just say it's worth $50,000.


Suze: And you die and you leave it to your beneficiaries, your beneficiaries will owe ordinary income tax on that $40,000. And the reason that they only owe income tax on that $40,000 is that, that was your earnings on the original $10,000 that you already pay taxes on, in this example.


Suze: Those are things that you have to understand about annuities over all. Ok, let's start with a single premium deferred annuity. One of my favorite that I really don't have a problem with, especially when interest rates are higher. And a single premium deferred annuity is exactly as its name says


Suze: In one single premium, one single amount of money,


Suze: you put it in to a single premium, deferred annuity. And again, there's the word deferred, which means they are deferring the income tax that you will owe on the growth of that money or the interest rate that money will earn until you take it out,


Suze: Especially because this is a non-qualified annuity. We're talking about again, you fund it with money you have already paid taxes on in one lump sum.


Suze: So you would put in $10,000 at one lump sum or 50,000 or 100,000 or whatever amount of money that you want to put in


Suze: Now, normally when you buy a single premium deferred annuity,


Suze: the insurance company will give you


Suze: a specific interest rate for a specific period of time. It can be one year, it can be two years, three years, four years or five years or more


Suze: What you want to be careful of. You do not want to buy a single premium deferred annuity that gives you just a high interest rate for the first year that's guaranteed to you,


Suze: but it has a five or a seven or a 10 year surrender period and you do not know what is the interest rate that they are going to be giving you for all the years after the first year because remember, you will have in most cases surrender charges for a number of years. So you will be stuck there.


Suze: So if they happen to decide, let's entice everybody to put their money into this single premium deferred annuity, let's just say interest rate for a one year certificate of deposit like the kind you can get at Alliant Credit Union, for instance.


Suze: Those interest rates are 5% for one year.


Suze: Why not offer


Suze: 5.5% or 6% for one year. Entice people to purchase the single premium, deferred annuity guaranteed for one year. Even though the surrender charges may apply for seven years, get them to put their money in.


Suze: And then after the first year, we will lower their interest rates from years to, to whatever the surrender period is, to make up for the fact that we paid them so much more the first year than the going interest rate. Did you hear what I just said to you? That is not what you want. If you buy a single premium, deferred annuity,


Suze: you want them to guarantee you the interest rate that you are going to be paid for the entire length of your surrender charge.


Suze: So if you wanted to, you put $100,000 in to a single premium, deferred annuity where they are guaranteeing you, let's just say 5% for all five years and the surrender charge is up after five years. Sounds like a good deal. All right. And you go for it and after five years you decide you don't want to do another annuity and you take out all of your money.


Suze: If you are under the age of 59 and a half, you will pay a 10% penalty on the interest that you've earned and you will pay ordinary income tax on the interest that you earned $100,000 over five years will make you about $28,000 in interest.


Suze: And if you're under 59 and a half, when you withdraw, you will pay $2800 on a Federal level. And there might be state charges as well depending on the state that you live in. So you have to take that into consideration. Plus you will pay ordinary income taxes on the full $28,000.


Suze: So single premium deferred annuities are usually far better for people who know they are going to turn 59 and a half or older in the year that the surrender charge is up


Suze: or they're already older and they're looking at that as a replacement for, let's say, a certificate of deposit. So a single premium deferred annuity, which was my favorite to put people into, will work very well for people who are older.


Suze: They want a guaranteed interest rate for a specific period of time


Suze: They want to not have to pay taxes on that money because maybe in those five years before it matures or whatever the surrender period is


Suze: they want to not pay taxes because now maybe they're in a currently high tax bracket and five years or seven or 10 years from now, they'll be in a lower tax bracket by a lot. So they don't care and that's what they want to do.


Suze: So, single premium deferred annuities can take the place of a certificate of deposit or a treasury if you want it to.


Suze: And that's essentially how they work. So for those of you who have put money into a single premium deferred annuity, you have locked in a good interest rate for the exact same amount of time as your surrender charge. You understand how they work in terms of the tax penalties from the government, the surrender charges from the insurance company.


Suze: And by the way, normally you are allowed in many insurance companies to withdraw 10% a year without the surrender charge applying. But if you withdraw that 10% a year from the annuity and you are not 59 and a half you will still have to pay a 10% penalty on that money, just so you know.


Suze: so as long as you understand that and you know, the ins and outs of it and you know why you are doing it, I don't have a problem with that. I just want to remind all of you. However,


Suze: and I did this on a podcast just a few weeks ago, unlike a bank that is insured with FDIC Insurance or a credit union that is insured by N C U A insurance annuity companies are not insured by FDIC or N C U A.


Suze: Remember each state has its own Insurance Guarantee Association that will provide protection for you. In the event that the insurance company becomes insolvent.


Suze: So it is important that you understand that and it is important that you understand each state


Suze: has its own level of insurance issued by the state Guaranteed Associations. So again, I did a whole thing on that, the rating of insurance companies in a podcast just a little bit ago. So you might want to check it out, but you are never ever to put more money in an insurance company contract like an annuity.


Suze: that is more than what the State Guarantee Association will insure you for. All right, just make sure that you understand that. So that's a single premium deferred annuity.


Suze: The next type of annuity which I do not like is a variable annuity


Suze: And a variable annuity is equal to an insurance company issuing you a mutual fund that invests in different things. You usually can choose which one of those funds you want to have your money invested in.


Suze: But, whatever you earn on it is tax deferred.


Suze: And remember we're talking about non-qualified annuities right now where you are funding them with money that you have already paid income taxes on.


Suze: So you have money that's just sitting there. It's not in a retirement account. And now you are thinking to yourself, I want to invest it. And you go to see a financial advisor and maybe you're thinking you want to put it in different mutual funds or exchange traded funds and your financial advisor that you're seeing


Suze: presents an opportunity and it sounds like this: if you were to put your money into a variable annuity,


Suze: because again, it's a contract with an insurance company, it's an annuity. You will be guaranteed that you will never get back less than what you originally put in, number one. Number two, you can


Suze: And that this is a way for you to invest in the stock market with absolutely no risk whatsoever. That is the sales pitch for most variable annuities.


Suze: Are you kidding me?


Suze: First of all, a variable annuity for them to be able to say you will never get back less than what you put in. That means that if you die, it's not like you can get it out at any time. Let's go back to our example.


Suze: You put $100,000 in for instance, the markets have plummeted. Your money is only worth $70,000. It's not like you can say to that annuity company, I want my money back and they'll give you $100,000, no.


Suze: That guarantee for you to get back the $100,000 in this case reads like this, you will get back on your death because you are the annuitant or the insured, you will get back the $100,000 that you put in or


Suze: the value of that annuity if the annuity at that time is higher. So whichever one is higher, you will get back that amount of money, but you have to have died to do so.


Suze: number one. Number two, for them to be able to guarantee you that they charge you a mortality charge of about 1.3% a year of your money. So you are paying for that everybody. That is not just something that a variable annuity gives you. But all right, let's just say you put in $100,000 years ago


Suze: and now it is worth $500,000 and you die and your beneficiaries get that $500,000. They are going to owe ordinary income tax on $400,000. Why 400,000? Because you put in 100,000 of your own money that you already pay taxes on,


Suze: they get back 500,000. So the difference between your original deposit and a non-qualified annuity and what they get is taxable. Understand that. Now, why am I stressing that? Because if you put $100,000 directly into an index mutual fund or ETF at a brokerage firm


Suze: and you left it there for years while that money is growing, in most cases, you do not pay a penny of income tax on it anyway.


Suze: However, upon your death, if it grew to $500,000,


Suze: your beneficiaries wouldn't have to pay any,


Suze: You better underline this in your notebook. They won't have to pay any income tax on that whatsoever. Why?


Suze: Because when they inherit it from you, they get a step up in cost basis. If it goes from 100,000 to 500,000, they inherit it. Their cost basis now is 500,000 if they turn around and they sell it absolutely no income tax at all, if they sold it for 500,000. If they keep it, let's just say they do.


Suze: And now it grows to 600,000 or 700,000 and they decide to sell it. Hey, if they kept it for at least a year, they'll pay capital gains tax on whatever increase above the 500,000.


Suze: But let's talk about, you forget about when you're dead. Let's talk about right now. You are alive and you want to be able to use this money while you are alive. So you simply take $100,000 that you've already paid taxes on and you put it in a brokerage firm where you buy


Suze: an index fund or ETF, ok, just that simple, like the Vanguard Total Stock market index fund or ETF that I've been talking about now for all three or four years on this podcast and you put in $100,000 and now years later, it's worth 500,000.


Suze: Any money that you take out that's been in there for over one year, you are only going to pay capital gains tax on that money. That is a big difference everybody than paying ordinary income tax on the money that you withdraw from a variable annuity. Oh, and what else? There is no surrender charge.


Suze: There is no 10% Federal tax penalty, if you take money out before you are 59 and a half years of age.


Suze: There is no mortality charge of 1.3% like there is in a variable annuity. In fact, there are many index funds that don't charge any fees to buy or expenses anything in them. What so ever so more of your money goes to work for you.


Suze: So this sales pitch and I underlined sales pitch,


Suze: of a variable annuity allowing you to invest and be guaranteed that you will get all of your money back. Number one costs you,


Suze: if you leave your money in there for a long period of time, chances are your money would have come back anyway and had grown to be far more


Suze: And you would just be better off buying a mutual fund or exchange traded fund outside of a variable annuity. And remember, variable annuities also come with what? Surrender charges in most cases. And if you take money out before the age of 59 a half the 10% penalty by the government. And in all circumstances, whatever money you take out


Suze: or your beneficiaries take out will be taxed as or income.


Suze: Indexed annuities. They are a type of annuity that is linked to a market index such as the Standard and Poor's 500 index. So they offer you the potential to get higher returns than fixed annuities, for instance. Providing some protection against market risk. Why is that? Because they usually will guarantee you a minimum


Suze: return that you will get a year on your money.


Suze: But for that minimum guaranteed return,


Suze: if your annuity is indexed, let's say to the Standard and Poor's 500. If the Standard and Poor's 500 index skyrockets and it goes up, let's just say 10%


Suze: The most you may make on that annuity would be maybe, you know, 9%. So usually they only give you 70, 80, 90% of what the index does. But for you giving up some return on the index, they usually guarantee you a minimum return on your money.


Suze: Many people like indexed annuities. All right, you can do that if you want, they have less risk than a variable annuity truthfully. But what people don't like about them usually is they can be very complicated to understand. But hey, if that's something that you wanna do, you absolutely can do that. Next, most non-qualified annuities also can come in the form


Suze: of income annuities, usually immediate income annuities where you take a lump sum of money, the insurance company invests it for you and they guarantee you a monthly income for either the rest of your life or a period certain, so they will certainly pay you for, let's just say 10 years.


Suze: Which means that if you buy an immediate annuity and you die in the next year after you bought it, they will pay your beneficiaries for, let's say 10 years. But after that, it stops. If you live past 10 years, they'll continue to pay you for as long as you are alive.


Suze: I talk about these in some detail in the Ultimate Retirement Guide for 50 Plus because for those of you who just simply want a guaranteed income for the rest of your life, because you don't have it anywhere else and you want to know that, I do not have a problem with you doing that right now. Just look at the ins and outs of them.


Suze: So now let's go to qualified annuities, which means you are funding them within normally a retirement account with money that you have never paid taxes on


Suze: A retirement account is the type of account where everything in there is tax deferred.


Suze: So what sense does it make, for instance, for you to put money in a tax deferred account, like a retirement account and purchase a variable annuity, for instance, that is also tax deferred?


Suze: What sense does it make for you to put a tax deferred investment in a tax deferred account? It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.


Suze: If you want to put a fixed annuity within a retirement account. Again, if it's guaranteeing you a really high interest rate for the exact time that it's in there and, you know, you're not gonna be taking money out. I don't have a problem with that,


Suze: But a variable annuity where they are, in essence, again, putting your money into what? Mutual funds


Suze: And you are paying mortality charges and so forth and possible surrender fees and things like that. That makes absolutely no sense. If you are in a retirement account,


Suze: why not just buy mutual funds, exchange traded funds, not have any limits as to when you can take money out when you can't take it out. So, variable annuities within a retirement account is absolutely, in my opinion, just stupid, everybody,


Suze: Tax Sheltered Annuities, TSAs, are usually qualified annuities where if you are a teacher or something like that where you work, that's where they put your money.


Suze: If that's the only retirement choice you have, again, I don't have a problem with that if, however, you have other choices at your place where you work such as a ROTH retirement account or whatever. I think there might be better ways for you to invest your money. But if all you have offered to you is a Tax Sheltered Annuity. I don't have a problem with that.


Suze: So that is my summation on annuities. Now, I know I went a little long here but I think it was worth it. So just in summary, truthfully,


Suze: I don't hate all annuities. Don't think that you have made a mistake, especially if you're doing a single premium deferred annuity and you can get a really high interest rate now guaranteed for the entire time that your surrender charge is in place. Make sure you know, the insurance limits at your state of how much you can put in. Other than that,


Suze: I think this should have given you a good education on how annuities work. So once again, I wish all of you a very happy Easter today. Passover that started a few nights ago, but is continuing. There's only one thing that I want all of you to say, especially today


Suze: and I want you to do it with me: Today, wherever I go, I will create a more joyful,


Suze: peaceful, loving world. All right, until Thursday, everybody when Miss Travis joins us again. Miss Travis, who you just love so much and is so much funnier than me and who you miss, which I happen to love. By the way, we will be back with Ask KT and Suze Anything. But until then, remember you are unstoppable.


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