If you grew up in a household anything like mine, savings and inheritance were a big part of the conversation. I didn’t know the exact numbers, but my parents made sure that I understood that if I was a good and obedient daughter, I would inherit upon their passing.
It didn’t turn out that way. They sold the family home prematurely and when they became ill, most of their savings went toward critical illness and nursing home care. Sadly they never enjoyed their senior years.
They weren’t big spenders. They were savers. They lived frugally, below their means. I often think of the one black dial telephone on the kitchen wall, the one television in the den and the one car in the driveway. Both my parents had weathered the Great Depression. They’d experienced grinding poverty: when you’re too poor to call the doctor, too poor to buy new boots to walk to school, too poor to buy a roast for Sunday dinner.
Some of their misfortunes happened in “ the old country” and although both of them avoided talking about their childhoods in Eastern Europe, I grew to understand that their psyches were forever stained by the fear of running out of money.
I’m not like them. I enjoy buying fashionable clothes and furnishings, books and art. I relish throwing parties, eating out or ordering in, attending plays and concerts. How could it be otherwise? I’m a baby boomer and research is demonstrating how different we are from the generations that preceded us.
In a recent study, “2016 Seniors’ Views of Inheritance,” conducted by HomeEquity Bank and Ipsos on Canadians more than 55 years old and with children, I discovered that when it comes to bucket list versus inheritance, Canadian seniors just want to have fun. In fact a whopping 86 per cent of us are “unwilling to forgo doing, achieving or acquiring something in order to provide a larger inheritance to our adult children.”
In addition, 62 per cent of Canadians aged 55 plus are not even concerned about leaving an inheritance for their children after they have supported their own needs and wants. As boomers age, we get more self-absorbed, or as you will, more realistic. The traditional vision of the doddering old couple in front of the television screen, sipping tea while waiting for their offspring to visit, couldn’t be farther from the truth. Seventy-one percent of older Canadians, aged 65 plus, are not concerned about leaving an inheritance at all.
Instead we’re re-inventing ourselves, launching new careers, volunteering, traveling and having a good time. If Freedom 55 never materialized, we’re still finding imaginative and sometimes expensive ways to celebrate retirement.
Although 19 per cent of us over 55 years still support at least one child—surprise— we remain unconcerned about our spending habits.
It’s difficult to explain, but Yvonne Ziomecki, senior vice president at HomeEquity Bank puts her finger on it when she says, “Seniors are not feeling pressured about leaving an inheritance. They’re very comfortable with wanting to enjoy their retirement. And with the majority of our clients, they know there will still be an inheritance that will go to their children. In fact, on average, our clients have more than 50 per cent of the equity left in their homes at the time of sale.”
What’s changed between my parents’ generation and mine is not just our reward system but also the value of our homes. The split-level mom and dad purchased didn’t escalate in value when they sold it twenty-five years later —unlike my new home that has increased by 25 percent in the last two and a half years. I’m not bragging. For many of us it was dumb luck or a nose for a good deal, but if we’re fortunate enough to live in the Greater Toronto-Hamilton area or in Vancouver, immigration, population density and the non-resource economy has been kind to us.
I’m not one to count my chickens before they hatch, particularly given the new mortgage rules imposed this month by the federal government, but unlike my stock market valuations that have been swinging wildly during recent years, my home investment steadily grows. Yes, I’m carrying a mortgage in semi retirement, but I’m trying hard to pay it off so the equity will be boosted when I can no longer earn by working.
As Ziomecki adds, “Canadian seniors are willing to tap into the equity of their home to help finance their lifestyle. They’ve watched the value of their home increase dramatically and they are accessing this equity to enhance their golden years.”
At the same time as this study was conducted, I met with my friend Donna Kirk, who I consider the Oracle of Oakville. Donna and her husband Ed raised three kids in Oakville and now devote a great deal of their time to their two beloved granddaughters. When I asked Donna if she would be inclined to financially help out her grown children if they were living beyond their means, she was characteristically frank replying: “My income can’t be altered. Ed and I are living on the income that we earned. If I did extend help, It would be a business deal,” she confirms, “a signed contract.”
Donna also believes that it’s best never to talk to your kids about inheritance. “It’s none of their business,” she states. “ I don’t want them to start thinking I’m their RRSP.”
Donna’s strategy is to remain in her elegant home as long as she possibly can, and if I know Donna that’s exactly what she will do. For many of us, home is not only where the heart is, but where the pocket book is as well.
Toronto, ON– When it comes to bucket list versus inheritance, Canadian seniors have spoken: 86% are unwilling to forgo doing, achieving or acquiring something in order to provide a larger inheritance to their adult children.
That’s according to the results of an August, 2016 Seniors’ Views of Inheritance study conducted by HomeEquity Bank and Ipsos Canada.
“Seniors are not feeling pressured about leaving an inheritance,” explains Yvonne Ziomecki, SVP, HomeEquity Bank. “They’re very comfortable with wanting to enjoy their retirement. And, with the majority of our clients, they know there will still be an inheritance that will go to their children. In fact, on average, our clients have more than 50% of the equity left in their homes at the time of sale.”
According to the Canadian government’s Office of Consumer Affairs, spending by senior husband-wife households (typically without children at home) grew the fastest from 1997 to 2002, increasing at an average annual rate of 4.7 percent.
Here, below, are the key findings of the Seniors’ Views of Inheritance study:
86% of Canadians aged 55+ would not give up doing, achieving or acquiring something in order for their children to receive a larger inheritance
62% of Canadians aged 55+ are not very concerned about ensuring there is an inheritance left for their children after they have supported their own needs and wants. Older Canadians aged 65+ feel even more strongly, with 71% stating they are not very concerned about leaving an inheritance
19% of Canadians aged 55+ still have a child who depends on them financially; and, statistics show this is more prevalent for those with a post-secondary (26%) or University education (24%)
“Canadian seniors are willing to tap into the equity of their home to help finance their lifestyle. They’ve watched the value of their home increase dramatically and they are accessing this equity to enhance their golden years,” adds Ms. Ziomecki.
The Seniors’ Views of Inheritance poll was conducted by Ipsos Canada from August 22-24, 2016 on behalf of HomeEquity Bank. A sample of 750 Canadians aged 55+ who have any children (including adult children) self-completed surveys online. The results are weighted to balance demographics to ensure the sample’s composition reflects that of the age 55+ population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ±4.1 percentage points had all Canadian adults age 55+ with any children been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to, coverage error, and measurement error.