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Gifts with a warm hand, not a cold one

How are you transitioning 
money to the next generation?

It was great delight to hear Dr. Meir Statman speak to certified financial planners in Halifax at their annual convention in June. He was talking about normal financial behaviours and why culture matters in how we transition our money to the next generation. I clapped when I heard him say, “I believe it is wise to give gifts with a warm hand, not a cold one,” as I have said this many times to farm families in transition.

Here’s some gleanings from the speakers:

Rex Murphy of CBC “Cross Country Checkup” fame encouraged Canada to get its own house in order as a country in terms of provincial trade and decreasing provincial debt. The case study teams of young financial students also agreed in their presentation to knock down credit card debt and pay off monthly balances. Dr. Jack Mintz, a public policy specialist, thinks the aging population should be aware of the very large expenses typical of the last year of life. As a farm family have you considered long-term health-care insurance or critical illness insurance?

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A young father with his little son walking in the wheat field at sunset in a warm summer day

Do you know what the expertise of a financial planner can do for you to create certainty for your future? I do. I have used CAFA colleagues to create plans based on our incomes off farm and from the farm to give us insights until we are 102. There is great power in knowing how your team of advisers can help you be ready for possibilities in life, personal and business. Go to www.cafa.net.com to seek out an adviser close to you, or ask for a referral.

Mark Venning of www.changerangers.com has a blog that invites folks to think of longevity financing, and he does not use the word “retirement,” which is why I think farmers would resonate with Mark. He wants folks to create portfolios of different ways of living at different stages of life as we age. Folks who saw a computer image of how their faces aged over time were more likely to save more money when they had the reality check that they truly are aging. What reality check do you have? Harder for you to climb the combine ladder? More hair in the comb? Fuzzy words reading this without your glasses? Venning encourages us to plan for situational flux, to be social enterprisers who can create different income streams or ways to be involved in community that bring meaning and purpose to our lives as we age.

ROC stands for “retirees on call,” and we are grateful for “retired” farmers who help us harvest as the labour gap in agriculture creates many opportunities for seasonal help on busy farms. We pay our employees very well because we value them. They are also clear on the total number of hours they want to give to our operation. Maybe it’s time to up your pay scale and have a chat with employees as to their goals and needs.

What options are you creating for yourself as you age so that new work patterns can continue to energize you? I am using www.zoom.us to work via video conferencing with families. This gives me more time with my granddaughter and my spouse.

“Uber” yourself is a new term from Venning, where you provide a service for hire. Making field meals, child care, cleaning, office admin, yard care are potential farm “Uber” options. I really would like my dandelions eradicated this fall! Busy harvesters don’t have this high on the priority to-do list!!

Venning asks us to start changing the culture by changing the language we use:

It’s not “financing retirement,” it is now financing longevity, as people are growing older.

It’s not “senior,” it is older adult.

It’s not “lifestyle,” it is life course — not linear, but with lots of curves and options.

It’s not “retirement,” it is the portfolio life.

Carolyn Farris, a tax specialist, says to “break up your planning for years after 65 to three segments for planning.” She thinks each segment has different strategies.

Stage one — 65 to 75 when you are travelling, cutting back on farm labour, moving to a new residence possibly.

Stage two — 75 to 85 when you are sticking closer to home, attending funerals of friends, and finding more delight in the simpler pleasures of life.

Stage three — 85 to 95 when you have your name on a list for long-term care and your family is carrying a heavy load of your medical care.

Farris spoke about being very clear about what your net income is in your aging years, and maxing out your Tax-Free Savings Accounts, you might also want to consider at what age to turn on the tap of your RRSP, not full bore, but start to move funds. She also wanted very detailed medical-care bills to take full advantage of non-taxable benefits like medical expenses, and these credits were likened to “coupons” that you need to use up.

Dr. Meir Statman, who I mentioned, has written a book Finance for Normal People. He thinks money is for well-being with three benefits: emotions, expressive and utilitarian.

The emotional benefits are, “How does it make me feel?” Would you give your wife a rose for your anniversary or a $10 bill? (Better pick the rose!)

The expressive benefits are, “What does it say about me?” John Deere has this benefit nailed when farmers love green paint, or red or blue depending on the farmer’s values.

The utilitarian benefits are, “What does it do for my pocketbook?” This is one of my quirks why I use cloth rags and cloth napkins and drive a RAV4 with 307,000 kms.

Would it hurt your pocketbook to start giving gifts of farm assets or cash to the next generation on your farm? How would it make them feel? What would it say about you? That you have enough to live well, that you have a generous spirit, that you bask in their words and actions of gratitude for helping them build equity? Your financial planner and accountant can guide you in what amounts are tax efficient for you to transfer.

Don’t you want to nurture your adult children and give them an opportunity to help your grandchildren build the legacy of the family farm? How thrilled would your non-farm heir feel with a financial gift to help with a house mortgage or student loan or leg up to help them be successful?

Statman also feels that risk tolerance is higher when you expect support from others. This makes the decision to buy land, or invest in farm growth a collective decision when you know you have a strong safety net of support from others in the farm business. Communication of expectations and timelines is key!

About the author

Contributor

Elaine Froese is a certified farm family coach and farm partner. Seek her out at www. elainefroese.com or call 1-866-848-8311. Buy her books for your mom. Share your stories of how these phrases have impacted you. Elaine wants to hear from you on Facebook at “farm family coach” or Twitter @elainefroese.

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