Retirement Answer Man

In this episode of the annuity series, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of variable annuities so that you can learn whether a variable annuity should be a part of your retirement plan. During the Hot Topic segment, we’ll discuss the Rock Retirement Club since enrollment just opened back up. Then in the Practical Planning segment, we jump back into our discussion on annuities. You’ll learn all about variable annuities to help you become more informed. Listen to this episode to learn the pros and cons of variable annuities. 

Is the Rock Retirement Club right for you?

The Rock Retirement Club has opened its doors once again! Now with over 200 people, the RRC was created last fall as a safe space to help others in various points along their retirement journey. The motto of the Rock Retirement Club is, “Walk with the wise and become wise.” Check out the RRC if you are interested in these 3 things:

  1. Get a world-class education on how to ‘do’ retirement. We do this by creating educational courses, workshops run by experts, and meetups on how to do specific things. 
  2. Take action. We have a monthly action plan to help you take baby steps towards your retirement goals and we give you the tools to take action.
  3. It is a safe place to walk with others along this retirement journey. 

What is the difference between a variable annuity and a fixed annuity?

There was $200B in annuity sales in 2018. Of that, $100B was in variable annuities. Since variable annuities are such a big part of the market, we should learn more about them. How is a variable annuity different than a fixed annuity? There are still the 2 phases of annuities: the accumulation period and the annuitization or distribution phase. In a fixed annuity you are paid based on a fixed rate specified in the contract. In a variable annuity, you are able to choose from a menu of mutual fund clones then when you go to annuitization you are paid based on what the portfolio was able to grow to. Basically, the case for variable annuities is that you’ll be able to potentially build a bigger pot to annuitize from. 

Pros and cons of variable annuities

Variable annuities have many riders to choose from

Another thing variable annuities have are riders. There are a lot of riders that are designed to provide you with income at some level without having to annuitize first. But the devil is in the details with these riders. You can often get a death benefit rider or a long-term care rider. There could be a guaranteed withdrawal benefit which may give you some guarantee about how much you’ll be able to withdraw. A lifetime income benefit rider can provide you with a guaranteed lifetime income. There could be a guaranteed minimum accumulation rider and so many others to choose from. Check out the Good Financial Cents website to learn more about the different types of riders you may come across with variable annuities.

What are some disadvantages to variable annuities?

Since you are investing in markets you could end up with a lower payout. If you do well and the assets grow they will be taxed as ordinary income rather than capital gains. Then there are the fees. There is a mortality expense, an investment expense, a manager expense, a surrender fee, and then, of course, the riders. There could be anywhere from 2.5% - 4% in annual fees, but if you get any riders attached then those fees could bump up to 6%. These types of products are usually sold rather than being sought out. The people that are selling annuities aren’t fiduciaries so they don’t have your best interest at heart. 



  • [3:31] The Rock Retirement Club has opened its doors once again


  • [10:01] How is a variable annuity different than a fixed annuity?
  • [14:20] Variable annuities have many riders to choose from
  • [16:35] What are some disadvantages to annuities?


  • [22:45] To be happy we need to minimize confusion


  • [24:35] What can you simplify in your life?

Resources Mentioned In This Episode

Rock Retirement Club

Roger’s YouTube Channel - Roger That

BOOK - Rock Retirement  by Roger Whitney

Work with Roger

Roger’s Retirement Learning Center

Direct download: RAM283.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am CDT