An annuity is a contract between you and an insurance company, under which you pay money for a set period of time. In return, you start to receive regular payments for a set period of time. The amount of time you pay to the annuity can vary from a one-time payment to several smaller payments over a long time period.
Annuities provide income for those who think social security might not be enough for retirement. When you reach the date where you start receiving annuity payments, you will be paid a guaranteed amount of income every month until you die.
Annuities typically offer tax-deferred growth of earnings and may include a death benefit that will pay your beneficiary a guaranteed minimum amount, such as your total purchase payments.