The popular image of our community as affluent trendsetters with money to burn on travel and designer clothes can be misleading.
In fact, LGBTQ+ Americans face unique challenges and anxieties in personal finance.
In 2021, for instance, the Human Rights Campaign reported that we earn about 90 cents for every dollar other workers earn. At the same time, many queer people tend to live in major metropolitan cities where the cost of living can be particularly high.
Another 2021 study from the Williams Institute found that members of this community are more likely to have federal student loan debt. And a host of other factors, including workplace discrimination, the costs of starting a non-traditional family, and feeling alienated by traditional financial institutions, can all impact the ability to grow wealth and plan for the future.
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With over half of queer youth reporting that they feel overwhelmed by topics related to money and personal finance, it’s vital to find sources of financial education and information. Enter Ally Financial. The company’s helpful videos feature the diverse voices of real people sharing their financial journeys and experiences with financial issues. Who better to help guide us through complicated financial terrain than allies from within our own community?
Helpful tips from Ally:
It’s never too early to start thinking about retirement. But that doesn’t have to mean making a detailed plan in your 20s. Your financial future can be as simple as starting to envision what you want your golden years to look like: what makes you happy, where you want to be, pursuits you want to enjoy. Envisioning what you want in later life is the first step toward making decisions that will make it possible.
As DJ says, “It’s best to have the financial resources in place so that you can have your retirement evolve to be whatever makes you happy once you get there.”
2. The Big Picture
The pathway to financial stability begins with education. For so many young Americans that means staying focused on the big picture, as LaToya did. “Everything that I did focused on developing my education, studying,” she says. “Because I knew if I got good grades, I was able to apply to more scholarships that afford me more opportunities in the future.”
3. Step By Step
Saving for medical expenses can be daunting, and trans people in particular face unique challenges when it comes to healthcare. But it’s important not to get overwhelmed. One way to do that is to make a plan, and then tackle it step by step when you are ready and able..
“Once you break it down into individual steps, it’s so much easier to overcome,” says Michelle.
4. You Better Network
It is impossible to overstate the importance of networking because we still face challenges when it comes to bias in the workplace. But no matter what setbacks you encounter, there are always opportunities to build relationships and contacts both in your current organization and in the broader professional community.
As Jessica suggests, “Utilize your sphere of influence to get to the places that you want to go.”
5. Get Your Head in the Game
Any parent will tell you that kids are expensive. But for same-sex couples the path to parenthood can involve significant costs as well as other hurdles. That’s why Lana suggests preparing yourself for the challenges ahead with more than just a financial plan: “It’s worth working on really building up your sense of self-worth and your sense of confidence.”
6. Expect the Unexpected
No matter how much you plan, life is going to throw some curveballs your way, especially when you are queer, so it’s important to know about every option at your disposal. Maybe your goal of owning a home involved a partner, as Jason’s did. When his relationship ended he was able to find programs that helped him make a down payment on a home on his own.
When faced with an unexpected setback, he reminds us, “Just stop and breathe and look at these examples around you, because we all had to start somewhere.”
7. Break It Down – So You Don’t!
Similar to gender-affirming healthcare related costs for transgender people, the costs involved in becoming parents for same-sex couples can be daunting. Like Michelle, Jessica agrees taking an incremental approach rather than letting the overall cost overwhelm you.
“Just try and take it one piece at a time,” she says. “You’ll be surprised that if you do it slowly…you’ll be able to do it.”
8. Home Is Where the Heart Is
Homeownership is a hugely important step towards building wealth. Living rent and mortgage free when you are retired is a huge benefit. But as Alfred points out, it can also be life-changing in other ways. Owning a home brings stability, and is, after all, where the heart is.
When working towards buying a home for the first time, it’s just as important to keep those personal, emotional benefits in mind as it is to think about the financial benefits.