Rachel’s note: As the markets continue to tumble, people are left wondering if they have enough saved up for a safe retirement.

In fact, the average 401(k) account value has dropped by 20% since the beginning of the year… and the personal savings rate has fallen to just 3.5% of disposable income.

But the good news is, our friend and investing expert Brad Thomas at Wide Moat Research has a unique strategy to boost and preserve your wealth – through all market conditions.

He targets strong companies with wide moats, calling them “SWAN” – “sleep well at night” – stocks. They are dividend-producing investments perfect for retirement portfolios.

And today, he’ll discuss five examples of dividend growers that made it through multiple downturns over the past few decades… and what to look for in these companies.


By Brad Thomas, editor, Intelligent Income Daily

Brad Thomas

Your retirement could be at risk.

The massive market selloff this year has hit almost every corner of the financial world – including retirement accounts.

According to an analysis by Fidelity Investments, the average 401(k) account value dropped from $130,700 at the beginning of the year to $103,800 at the end of June – a 20.6% reduction.

The same report showed the average IRA balance fell from $135,600 to $110,800 – an 18.3% decrease.

And the markets have only fallen more in the past few months. All that has left folks wondering if they have enough saved up for a safe retirement.

Luckily, we are here to research the best ways to boost and preserve your wealth – through all market conditions. And our favorite strategy proven to do that is by increasing your income.

Now, that’s normally easier said than done. But based on our decades of market experience, we can help direct you to the safest and most consistent income investments. And you can get access to them right through your brokerage account.

So today, I’ll break down what the hit to 401(k)s means for your retirement plans, how you can safeguard it, and my favorite way to play the current market volatility and boost your income streams.

There’s Good News and Bad News

The good news is despite the decreased value of retirement accounts, Americans are still better prepared for retirement than they were 10 years ago.

Back then, the average 401(k) balance was $74,900 and the average IRA balance was $75,300. Adjusted for inflation, those numbers would be $97,200 and $97,700 today.

The bad news is sky-high inflation is forcing people to spend more and more on everyday necessities, leaving less money for savings.

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the personal savings rate has dropped to just 3.5% of disposable income, well below the 6-9% savings rates seen over most of the past decade.

Even worse news is that the economy is starting to weaken and may soon go into recession. According to a recent Bloomberg Economics model projection, there is a 100% probability of a recession within the next 12 months.

Many people are justifiably concerned and moving to more conservative investments.

So, what can we do?

Income Plays That Have Been Through It All

As I mentioned above, my team and I seek out the safest income-producing investments perfect for retirement portfolios.

While many are concerned about the dollar value of their account, we take a different approach – focusing on building a growing stream of income that will continue to support us no matter what happens in the stock market.

And one of the best ways we’ve learned to weather a recession is to stay invested in dividend growth stocks with strong competitive moats and solid financial positions.

These companies have shown time and again they have what it takes to not only survive recessions… but also continue increasing their payouts to shareholders through tough times.

Here are five examples of dividend growers that made it through multiple downturns over the past few decades:

  • Proctor & Gamble (PG): This company produces everyday necessities like toilet paper, shampoo, razors, toothbrushes, and laundry detergent. It’s been increasing its dividend every year since 1957 – that’s 66 years and nine recessions.

  • McDonald’s (MCD): People may stop eating at fancy restaurants when times get tough, but they’ll still stop by for a Happy Meal. McDonald’s has been through five recessions and has increased its dividend every year since 1976.

  • Realty Income (O): This real estate investment trust (REIT) collects rent from recession-resistant businesses like grocery, convenience, and dollar stores. It’s paid an increasing dividend since 1994 and survived three recessions.

  • Black Hills Corporation (BKH): A gas and electric utility company that serves customers across the Midwest. Black Hills has been growing its dividend since 1972 and has been through seven recessions.

  • Medtronic (MDT): This manufacturer produces healthcare equipment and supplies like pacemakers, insulin pumps, and surgical tools. Medtronic has paid a growing dividend since 1978 and has survived five recessions.

These are just a few examples of blue-chip companies that can help fund your retirement for decades with growing income – even through bear markets and recessions and regardless of what happens to the stock price.

But that’s not all.

We’ve put together a list of over two dozen time-tested SWAN stocks, including those that my past research and interviews with experts have led me to.

These are companies with proven management teams, reliable dividend growth, and decades of experience through all kinds of market conditions under their belts. To learn more about them, go here.

Happy SWAN (sleep well at night) investing,

Brad Thomas
Editor, Intelligent Income Daily