Is it time for this 70-year-old to sell her billboard rental business?

Dianne Maley – The Globe and Mail

At the age of 70, Yvonne feels she is at a fork in the road and in need of “a professional, disinterested perspective.”

She is single again with three grown children and a clutch of grandchildren, none of whom is looking to her for an inheritance. At the same time, she does not want to be a burden on them.

“That really is my overriding concern,” Yvonne writes in an e-mail, “how best to look after myself financially so I reduce the chances of needing to turn to family for financial help in the future.” She has some savings and a waterfront lot back home. She collects Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security benefits. But her main income comes from the rental of billboard signs along a highway in New York State.

Last year “was a good year,” Yvonne writes. “I had all seven signs rented.” Gross rental income translated into $65,510 (Canadian). “After taxes and billboard-related expenses, I live well on what’s left,” she adds.

Then one morning “out of the blue” a former advertiser called and asked if she would sell just one of the signs. She suggested the company buy all seven because she didn’t want to sell piece by piece. “They are thinking and I am thinking,” Yvonne writes. However it turns out, she wants to understand what the income stream from the billboard business is worth. “What is the least I can reasonably take for this business?” she asks.

“I would like to sell but I do not know if I can afford to. What level of frugality would I be embracing over the next 20 years if I sold now?” If she sells, Yvonne wonders whether it would be a good idea to use part of the sale proceeds to top up her registered retirement savings plan.

We asked Ian Black, a registered financial planner (RFP) at Macdonald Shymko & Co. Ltd. in Vancouver, to look at Yvonne’s situation. Macdonald Shymko is a fee-only financial planning and portfolio management firm.

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