By David Rae
Originally published on Advocate.com August 16 2012 4:00 AM ET
If you would rather look rich than actually become wealthy, then stop reading. If on the other hand you actually want to reach your financial goals, whatever they may be, I’ve learned a few financial tips that will help.
I know for many of us it’s a fight to be financially savvy. And so maybe it’s appropriate that a quote from Fight Club sums up much of what I’m about to say: “We buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t like.”
SPEND LESS THAN YOU MAKE: Seems pretty obvious, but don’t we all have at least one gay friend with a busy social life, heavy travel schedule, and often thousands of dollars debt? Carrying balances on credit cards is a great way to kill your chances of creating wealth. It’s not how much you make, but how much you keep that drives wealth accumulation. Also, with no emergency fund, small balances on credit cards can quickly spiral out of control. You will be able to continue to spend a bigger portion of your income, if you eliminate credit card interest.
DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS: Only do what makes sense for you. Whether you are flying coach or first-class, the plane takes off and lands at the same time. What’s important is that you have money in your pocket at whatever fabulous locale you’ve chosen to visit. We all suffer from some status envy, but often those status symbols are like mirages. They’re not real. How many of the “Real Housewives” have had their cars or even houses repossessed? Nothing to envy about that.
BARGAIN IS NOT A FOUR-LETTER WORD: Like a lot of gay people, I love to travel, but I also love to get a good deal. I often shop around for major purchases. Last year a few friends headed out for a trip. I bought my flight in advance and got a pretty good deal. My travel companion procrastinated and found himself stuck in a middle seat for almost double what I paid. The plane went to the same place, no added value for the extra expense. A dollar saved is better than a dollar earned (and no taxes are due on the savings). To think of it another way, the more you save in one area like flights, mean more money have to spend on fun things like dinner with friends.
NEED AND WANT ARE NOT THE SAME THING: It really amazes me how often people confuse these two things. For example: “I want the new iPhone 5.” Versus, “My cell phone died, I need a new one.” That same friend with the credit card debt is probably making impulse purchases.
MAKE SAVING AUTOMATIC: Set up an automatic deposit into a saving account, retirement account, or even a mutual fund. Make it automatic and treat it like it’s a bill.
You may be surprised how you don’t miss the money, and how quickly it adds up. You can even use this for short-term goals like a vacation. Think of how much more fun you could have knowing your Atlantis Cruise or Provincetown stay is paid in advance. With it paid off, you can start planning your next gaycation without having to dig out of the debt from the last trip.
These are just a few basic steps you can take right now to get you moving in the right direction financially. Working with a financial planner to map out your financial goals will help you get on track to achieving those goals. Whether you are about to retire, or just entering the work force, the best advice I can give you now is to get your head out of the sand, pay yourself first and start accumulating wealth now. Being a financially savvy gay, may be more challenging for some than others, but no one’s ever said I wish I had less money saved up.
DAVID RAE, CFP® is a retirement planning specialist with Trilogy Financial Services, specializing in the needs of the LGBT community. Follow him on Twitter @davidraecfp or via his website, www.davidraefp.com.
Securities and advisory services offered through National Planning Corporation (NPC), Member FINRA,SIPC, a Registered Investment Advisor. Trilogy and NPC are separate and unrelated entities. They are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual