Giving Gifts of Farm Assets With a Warm HandIt was a 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.

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Giving Gifts of Farm Assets

Rex Murphy of CBC Cross Country Checkup 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? 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 the farm and from the farm to give us insights until we are 102.  There is great power in knowing how your team of advisors can help you be ready for possibilities in life, personal and business. CAFA allows you to seed out advisors that are close to you.

Mark Venning of  Change Rangers 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 readers? Venning encourages us to plan for situational flux, to be social enterprisers who can create different income streams or ways to be involved in the community that bring meaning and purpose to our lives as we age.

Giving Gifts of Farm Assets With a Warm Hand

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 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 use Zoom to work via video conferencing with families. This gives me more time with my grand-daughter and my spouse.

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“Uber” yourself is a new term from Venning, where you provide a service for hire. Making field meals, childcare, 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 an older adult.
  • It’s not “lifestyle”, it is a 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 3 segments for planning,” She thinks each segment has different strategies.

  • Stage one 65 to 75 when you are traveling, 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 age 85 to 95 when you have your name on a list of 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 the 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 ultarian.

  • The emotional benefits are “How does it make me feel?” Would you give your wife a rose for your anniversary or a ten-dollar 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 ultarian 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.

Giving Gifts of Farm Assets With a Warm Hand

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!

Fixing Your Time Stress Mess

60 minutes

Workaholics will discover helpful strategies for managing their time stress. Gain understanding for the tensions of your age and stage on the farm. Learn why some problems are not solvable, but just need to be managed as polarities. Self-renewing people are joyful and productive producers.


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Don Forbes, Forbes Wealthy Management
“I just have to say… that your work is amazing and I have never forgotten your teachings from our session in Williams Lake at TRU. It is super important work. I know so many people going through the trauma of succession. I hate to use that word, but I was an “out-law” and know it can get terrible. I continue to forward your emails on to others. Keep doing what you do! You are amazing. You kind of walk into the fire regularly… and with a smile. Proud to have met you.”
Megan, BC Rancher
“As my husband and I eagerly started the course we were optimistic and excited to be taking this next step in our Farm Transition. We were starting to question ourselves and whether or not we were just being selfish and greedy, and if this Farm Transition was still an option for us. We barely got through the first Module and were already having such a huge relief. As we moved through the modulus there were so many times that we just sat back with our hands in the air and thought YES. My husband and I would smile with relief because all of the concerns that we have been struggling with were relevant and came up in the modules. We really enjoyed the course and are excited to move on to the next stages to find our farm resolution.”
Shannon Gilchrist, “Get Farm Transition Unstuck” online course participant
“My hubby farms with 2 brothers and parents, and it’s become a really toxic place. No communication, no respect, etc. Twelve months ago, my husband’s brothers told him they don’t want to work with him anymore and offered him a pay out. His parents did nothing to stop it! He had no choice but to leave. Three months later, we moved off the farm and into town. He has been offered heaps of jobs and is now truck driving and carting hay and grain. We have tried communicating with his parents about what happened but they are not interested. So basically my hubby has lost his family. Very sad but we as husband and wife are overall in a good place and moving on to create our own life. Please continue on with all your wonderful work in helping families on the farm. I continue to tell any farmers I know about you, that they must ‘google’ you, and read your books.”
Donna, Farmer, Australia

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