You may have seen some of the studies that say gays are better with money, and polls that show LGBT people have lower income and lower levels of education. Who is right? And are they even drawing the proper conclusion from the data? In either case, making more income and having less debt than the general population doesn’t necessarily make you better at handling money.
First off, making tons of money makes you successful, but its does not necessarily mean you are good at handling money. I’d be willing to bet Lindsay Lohan has been more successful making money than many of us will make in our working lives, yet she’s supposedly broke. Likewise, “having less debt” than someone else is about the same as being the skinniest person on The Biggest Loser. What is important? That you are doing what’s right for your specific situation to reach your personal financial goals.
Years of being discriminated against and not being afforded the protections and benefits of marriage may have forced a lot of LGBT people to take control of their finances. This may increase your odds of actually implementing a comprehensive financial plan with proper estate planning. Whether or not you take advantage of these opportunities is up to you.
A variety of other issues may affect our ability to reach our financial goals. While some of us may save money by not having children (estimates say it costs about $245,000 to raise a child), those who do choose to have them, either through adoption, surrogacy, or other arrangements, will spend plenty. Also, the stereotypical “gay lifestyle” can be a budget buster. It doesn’t have to be first-class vacations or ultra-luxury cars and fancy clothes to get you off track financially. LGBT people tend to live in higher-cost metropolitan areas, thereby increasing many living expenses. Housing dollars go a bit further in Kansas than Los Angeles, San Francisco, or New York City.
What does all this mean for you and your personal financial plan? Not a whole lot. On the other hand, it may highlight some things you need to be aware of. I would never tell a client “It’s OK — someone else is worse with money than you.” It’s not about keeping up with the Gay Joneses, it’s about doing what is right for your situation.
Are you saving enough for retirement? Are you getting all of the company match available to you? Can you afford your car, vacation, and housing without forgoing other financial goals? Take the advantages and smarts you have been given and run with them. You can easily have most of it — fancy cars, fabulous travel, and shopping — but it you have to smart to have it all.
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. Estate planning can involve a complex web of tax rules and regulations. Tax laws surrounding estate planning concepts are subject to change. Please consult an estate planning attorney prior to making any financial decisions.