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As baby boomers get older, their age-related goalposts seem to steadily move backwards. The former hippies who once said, “Never trust anyone over 30,” are now using mantras like, “Life begins at 50″ or “beautiful at any age”
Boomers’ words and actions are powerful, given they account for a huge chunk of the population and have more financial might than younger generations after decades of accumulating wealth from cooperative stock markets and rising real estate prices.
It’s a generation with a lot of influence – but you wouldn’t know it by watching mainstream advertising, where the focus is overwhelmingly on youth.
A concentration on younger demographics may have made sense decades ago when brand loyalty was a thing and advertising could create a customer for life – but that kind of devotion is long gone.
“Once you hit 55, it’s like you don’t see any creative briefs, a media buy or research targeting anyone that old. It is like you fall off a cliff,” says Jeff Weiss, chief executive officer of Age of Majority, a consulting company for marketers looking to tap into older consumers in Canada and the U.S.
Marketers are missing out on billions of dollars in sales by neglecting the 55-plus “active agers,” according to research from the consultant, who splits his time between Boston and Toronto.
He polled marketers on the generational split in spending by Canadians a few years ago. At the time, they estimated that millennials (under 35) accounted for 38 per cent of consumer spending, 29 for Gen X and 32 per cent for boomers. In fact, millennials account for just 18 per cent of total consumer spending, while those 55-plus account for more than 40 per cent of outlays.
“Marketers should know better,” Mr. Weiss says. “They think that younger adults have a lot more money than they actually do. And now you see more focus on Gen Z and they have no money.”
By comparison, the 55-plus set have financial resources and still, for the most part, buy big-ticket items such as vehicles, appliances and furniture, but they don’t see themselves portrayed in ads. Paul Brent reports
Are these 30-something small business owners ready for ‘work optional’ lifestyle?
To better understand the FIRE (financial independence, retire early) movement; consider Diana and Dominic, a couple in their early 30s with one child and another on the way.
With no windfalls, pension plans or help from their parents, Dominic, 34, and Diana, 31, boast a net worth (assets minus liabilities) of $2.17-million. “Through a series of real estate and stock market investments, we were able to grow our net worth to over $500,000 in our 20s,” Diana writes in an e-mail. While they were both still working, they started a successful business on the side, “and as such we were able to save almost all of the income in our corporation.”
She recalls the hardships that beset her parents and seeing them struggle is what pushed her to work so hard on becoming financially stable. Today her business easily brings in more than $100,000 a year. Dominic manages the investments and takes care of their daughter. Their goal is for Diana to be “work optional” in a year or two, with a spending target of $100,000 a year after tax when they have fully retired.
“How do we protect our assets against inflation?” Diana asks. Does it make sense to move to a less-expensive locale where they can buy a larger home and rent out their city home, keeping it as an inflation hedge? What should their allocation be to real estate and stocks and bonds, “and how do you determine what is safe?” Should they keep a large cash reserve in the event of a downturn? Or would it be better to invest in dividend-paying stocks to avoid having to sell in a downturn?
In the Globe’s latest Financial Facelift column, we asked Warren MacKenzie, head of financial planning at Optimize Wealth Management in Toronto, to look at their situation.
In case you missed it
How seniors can ensure they’re getting the health care they deserve
Arlette Adams didn’t waste time when she felt that her family doctor wasn’t properly addressing the bouts of dizziness she was experiencing. At a nutritionist’s appointment days later, the 82-year-old Torontonian was told the symptoms were likely caused by a lack of water intake. She immediately started drinking more water. “Within three days, the feeling of dizziness was gone,” she recalls. “I thought: ‘A doctor couldn’t have told me that?’”
She has since switched to a new family doctor who has been more supportive and attentive. “If you’re not happy – you just have to do that,” she says of the change.
Seniors like Ms. Adams are realizing the value of advocating for their health, instead of brushing off symptoms as standard with age. Too often, seniors don’t realize that because of vision, hearing or cognitive issues, they’re at the highest risk of adverse drug reactions, medication mix-ups and simply not having their health issues addressed. Anna Sharratt reports
Why you’re never too old to ski
Rosalynn Ruptash was not a skier when she met her husband 13 years ago. “I’m as athletic as a rusty nail,” says the 66-year-old Edmontonian. “I’m also very petrified of heights. I have acrophobia.”
But her future husband was an avid, lifetime skier and she realized she would have to give it a try and let him see for himself that she just couldn’t. That is not how it turned out, though.
Today Ms. Ruptash doesn’t just ski; she’s also president of the Edmonton-based Rocky Mountain Seniors Ski Club.
“You don’t have to be an extreme athlete or even athletic in order to ski,” she says. “You just have to have the courage to give it a try and enjoy being outdoors.”
The sport is physically and mentally stimulating and the views are spectacular, she says, as long as she doesn’t have to look down. The ski club has 885 members, most of them in the Metro Edmonton area. All are 55 or older. The oldest is 97. In summer they cycle and mountain bike but the club’s raison d’etre is hitting the slopes. Dene Moore reports
What else we’re reading
The 10 best places to retire in Canada (according to Americans)
Canada offers a compelling retirement lifestyle – but don’t take our word for it. That’s the introduction of a recent article in U.S. News & World Report.
“[Canada] is a safe country with high-quality health care and a low population density,” the article states, adding that “Canada is famous for its natural beauty and friendly people” with “many retirement options for American retirees.”
Of course, they can’t help but mention “four-season climate,” but we like it.
Here are the 10 best places they think are good locations to retire. A few may surprise you – in a good way.
Ask Sixty Five
Question: My only income besides the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) is investing. I made a substantial amount this year of about $500,000 in capital gains – mostly on options. Will the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) penalize me for not remitting tax throughout the year?
We asked Jamie Golombek, managing director of tax and estate planning for CIBC Private Wealth in Toronto, to respond to this one:
Unless you were required to make instalments for 2021 (see below), you won’t be penalized for not remitting tax throughout the year. However, for 2022, you may be required to make instalments. To better understand how this works, here’s a short primer on our instalment system.
Under the Income Tax Act, quarterly tax instalments are required for this tax year if your “net tax owing” for 2021 will be more than $3,000 ($1,800 for Quebec tax filers) and was also greater than $3,000 ($1,800 for Quebec) in either 2020 or 2019.
The definition of net tax owing is somewhat complex, but essentially refers to your net federal and provincial taxes, less income tax withheld at source, plus any CPP contributions and employment insurance premiums on self-employment earnings (if applicable), as well as adjustments for certain other credits and social benefit repayments.
There are three options that may be used to determine how much you need to pay each quarter: the no-calculation option, prior-year option and current-year option. Individuals can choose the option that results in the lowest payments. In your case, this would likely be the no-calculation or prior-year option – that is assuming you were even required to make instalments in 2021 based on your 2020 or 2019 returns.
Under the no-calculation option, the CRA would have calculated your March 2021 and June 2021 instalments based on 25 per cent of the net tax owing on your 2019 assessed return. The Sept. 15 and Dec. 15, 2021, instalments would then be calculated based on the net tax owing from your 2020 return, less the March and June instalments already paid.
By contrast, the prior-year option bases the calculation solely on last year’s (2020) income. The 2021 instalments are based on your 2020 tax owing and you would simply need to pay a quarter of the amount on each instalment date.
Finally, under the current-year method, you simply base your 2021 instalments on the amount of estimated tax you think you will owe for this year and you pay one quarter of the estimated amount on each instalment date. This option is useful if your 2021 income will be significantly less than 2020.
Provided you make the required instalments and they are remitted on time, no interest or penalties will be assessed.
Have a question about money or lifestyle topics for seniors, or want to suggest a story idea for the Sixty Five series? Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will find experts and answer your questions in future newsletters.