Retirees, superannuation funds, foreign, and individual investors will be looking towards Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) for answers with official interest rates stuck at just 1.75%. 

Indeed, many of the ‘forecasts’ for a ‘comfortable’ retirement assume returns from ‘safe’ assets like cash to be at least 4% to 5%.  

According to The Australian Financial Review, one of Australia’s largest superannuation funds, the Future Fund, targets a return of 5% plus inflation every year.

The problem?

Superannuation funds, as any financial advisor will tell you, are meant to be stocked full of reliable — income earning — investments. The problem is interest rates are just 2% on government bonds (the Future Fund’s equivalent of a term deposit).

Meanwhile, major banks are offering savers 2.4% interest rates on term deposits. Even if you had a $1,000,000 nest egg, you’re earning $25,000 before tax and inflation (though, you won’t pay much tax on that amount).

However, I suspect term deposit rates could be a lot lower in the near future. In fact, I broke into my largest term deposit last night, to send money to other investments.

Take a look at these ASX shares

If you are also looking for high-yielding investments to counter low-interest rates. Here are some ideas from the Australian stock exchange:

  • Westpac Banking Corp (ASX: WBC) is forecast to pay a dividend of 6.2% fully franked in the next year.
  • Telstra Corporation Ltd (ASX: TLS) is expected to pay a 5.4% fully franked dividend.
  • Wesfarmers Ltd (ASX: WES), the owner of Coles, Bunnings, Officeworks, Kmart and more, is expected to yield 4.7% fully franked.
  • Even the iShares S&P 500 ETF (ISCS&P500 CDI 1:1 (ASX: IVV)) is expected to pay a dividend of 2.38%. This ETF tracks every company in the USA’s S&P 500 index in one simple fund.

Foolish takeaway

If you’re thinking about investing for income, it may be hard to find a decent income in traditionally ‘safe’ assets like term deposits and fixed income. Of course, those investments listed above are riskier than term deposits, so you would not put all your retirement savings in them.

In fact, I’m not a buyer of Westpac, Telstra or Wesfarmers shares at today’s prices. Until their valuations become more compelling I’m looking for shares earning US dollars or those growing at a rapid pace.

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Motley Fool Contributor Owen Raszkiewicz does not have a financial interest in any company mentioned. Owen welcomes -- and encourages -- your feedback on Google+, LinkedIn or you can follow him on Twitter @ASXinvest.

The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.