Being gay is expensive: Here’s how to take Pride in your finances

Bring Pride to your finances this Pride month by taking back control over your money.

HomoCulture Gay Culture Simon Elstad

This article was published on May 31st, 2021

A “fabulous” life comes at a price—a steep one. The money for fancy clothes, nights out, drinks, and keeping up with the Richard’s must come from somewhere. And it probably isn’t coming from your sugar daddy.

Okay, fine, maybe he’s generous and caters for all those. But will he also clear your student debt loans, credit card debt, mortgage and fund your retirement? Because right there is the crux of the money problem for queers.

While most easily fund their “dream” life with debt and paychecks, the really big things, aka, the “adult” stuff, such as mortgages, debt repayments, insurance, credit scores, among others, require a different approach.

Long-term wealth building requires time, planning, consistency, and lots of patience—something in dire short supply among instant everything millennial and Gen Z generations.

Wealth also requires savings. Unfortunately, a 2017 Prudential report found that 48 percent of LGBT respondents consider themselves spenders (no surprises there), compared with just 32 percent of the general population.

Structural brokeness

Not all queer brokeness comes from frivolity and living the conspicuous fabulous life. Some are structural. You’re being royally screwed financially, in more ways than you can imagine, and there’s not much you can do about it.

Actually, you can do something about it at a personal level. We’ll talk about that in a bit.

Overall, however, unless you have a magic word to make LGBTQ-friendly cities less expensive to live in, then you’re out of luck.

Some like LA are hellishly expensive. Others like Manhattan and San Francisco have living costs that are 195% and 118%, respectively, above the national average.

Contrast that to cheap states like West Virginia and Arkansas, where the living costs are 17% below the national average. Those states don’t have laws expressly protecting LGBTQ+ people.

Without these protections, most queers end up living very quiet lives to protect themselves. However, nobody should have to live in fear. You deserve the freedom and space to express yourself without fear of harassment and discrimination.

Have you checked your paycheck of late?

Some queers get shortchanged at work, leaving them broke. For instance, transgender households are more likely to make $12,000 less each year compared to the general population.

Also, 29% of trans people live in poverty compared to the general population, according to a Trans Equality report.

It’s not just transgender people who feel the pinch. Lesbians, being women, tend to receive lower wages compared to their male counterparts. Lesbian of color tend to make even less.

Most LGBTQ people also struggle with job security. Some can’t pursue higher incomes because of discrimination, harassment, and other erroneous stereotypes. Others fear coming out to senior management for fear it could slow their career progression.

Indeed, 1 in 4 queers says sexuality has impacted their finances, according to a Morning Consult poll.

Another 4 in every 5 LGBT households report high debt levels that make managing household finances difficult. This according to a Mass Mutual study.

The late late stuff

You’re getting older. Everyday. We all are, and there’s nothing any of us can do about it.

You can eat well, exercise, hydrate, sleep well, and you should do that. But, a year from now, you’ll be a year older with a few more wrinkles and a year closer to RETIREMENT.

We might sing “Forever Young” and party all night. Here’s the reality, though: You won’t remain young forever, and neither will you party forever. Energy dwindles at some point, and a lifetime of unhealthy decisions comes back to haunt you.

Take healthcare, for example. LGBT retirees pay more for care than others. They also face greater discrimination in retirement. With longevity comes costs. The sugar daddy will be long gone by then.

Oh wait, maybe he set up a trust fund for you. What would that make you? A trust fund sugar babe?

Sugar things aside, let’s get to the good part. How do you unscrew yourself financially?

Pride in your finances

Pride month is here. As you celebrate who you are, perhaps take a moment this year to shine a light on your finances and bring some Pride there too.

For instance, do you know where you stand financially? How much do you owe in student debt loans? How much do you spend on clubbing and partying?

Why should you bother knowing these figures? Because a big chunk of life has to do with money. You work for it and exchange your time, literally your life, for it. How you spend it should be equally important.

It really does get better, but you must also afford the lifestyle. Burying your head in the sand on money will only make the situation worse.

Gays live large. They also love keeping appearances of living large. Indeed, a marketing survey for the LGBT community found that 26% of gay men spend too much on travel.

With most queers, 16% of the monthly household income goes towards discretionary spending, including appearance, alcohol, and others. Only about 11% goes to savings and investments.

Take control over your finances.

We all love a confident man. Nothing will put a swankier feel to your stride than knowing you’ve got your finances covered.

Can you handle an emergency, for example, unforeseen vehicle repairs, without resorting to debt?

We’ll be talking about more money matters in subsequent posts. Here’s what you can do right now to start wrenching back control over your money:

  • If you can, stay the F away from credit card debt.
  • Save like your life depended on it. In essence, pay yourself first.
  • Live below your means. The lower, the better.
  • Understand where you spend your money by tracking it for a month. Do your expenses reflect your priorities?
  • Automate your financial life as much as possible. From savings to recurring bills. Set and forget.
  • Keep your fixed expenses down: housing, transportation, and food.
  • Get adequate insurance but don’t overpay for it.
  • Always get the 401(k)-plan employer match. Save more if you must.
  • Choose your neighborhood, friends, and life partner wisely.
  • Talk openly about money with your long-term partner
  • Invest more in experiences. The kick from material goods dies down quickly. Incredible memories last forever.
  • Plan your estate. Don’t just plan for retirement; think more along the lines of financial independence.
  • Make more money (Duh!) and save more each year.

Finally, have some fun. Live that fabulous life occasionally, or more if it’s still well below your means. In the end, you won’t carry any of this stuff with you. You’ll sign out just like you signed in…with absolutely nothing.

To Pride! (*Sips a Stoli Pride cocktail and hits publish.*)

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