Annuities are insurance contracts that make regular payments to you either immediately or at some point in the future. You can purchase an annuity to help grow or protect your retirement savings or to provide you with guaranteed income.

There are two basic types of annuities: deferred and immediate.

With a deferred annuity, your money is invested for a period of time until you are ready to begin taking withdrawals, typically in retirement.

If you opt for an immediate annuity, you begin to receive payments soon after you make your initial investment.

The deferred annuity accumulates money while the immediate annuity pays out. Deferred annuities can also be converted into immediate annuities when the owner wants to start receiving payments.

Within these two categories, annuities can also be either be fixed or variable: