Annuities are contracts with an insurance company that can help protect you against the risk of outliving your assets. Annuities are designed to meet retirement and other long-range goals and provide a guarantee of future income in return for your payments. You may make a single payment or a series of payments and then accrue interest over time. A "deferred annuity" allows you to accumulate funds tax-deferred and then establish a payout stream at a later date. After an initial payment, an "immediate annuity" can begin a guaranteed income stream right away. Annuities offer an array of choices both during the deferral and payout periods to suit your needs and investment style.