5 Financial Tips for LGBT Couples
Money strategies every LGBT couple should consider.
Money matters are complex for every family, and there is no one way to correctly manage your finances. This is certainly true for LGBT couples, for whom milestones like marriage, children, and homeownership may pose additional financial challenges. While you may follow common personal finance strategies, you’ll also likely need to take into account unique considerations based on your financial and lifestyle goals. Below are five steps that you and your spouse or partner might consider as you build your family’s financial plan.
Step 1: Find the Right Advisors
When it comes to hiring a financial advisor, no one should settle for a one-size-fits-all financial plan. For LGBT couples, this is especially important because boilerplate language won’t serve your needs. This is why it is imperative to find a financial advisor who will address the financial concerns specific to your needs, values and experiences as a LGBT couple. If you are having trouble finding the right person in your area, look beyond your community and even over state lines to find a more receptive financial advisor. It is common for advisors to be licensed in several states, and you can also find financial advisors specializing in the LGBTQIA communities here. As you search for the right advisor, it may be helpful to scan potential advisor websites for mentions of partnering with any LGBTQIA organizations or clients. If you can see that they support advocacy and allyship, then it will increase the chances they will have your interests in mind.
Step 2: Save Early, Save Often
The numbers don’t lie: on average, LGBT parents will spend more money than heterosexual couples on pregnancy and adoption. Several factors contribute to this, including out-of-pocket expenses for procedures not covered by insurance, and steeper legal fees for adoption by unmarried parents or a male LGBT couple.
Another area where LGBT couples often find themselves paying more is in housing. Cities or neighborhoods with discrimination protections in place, as well as more urban and affluent areas, tend to be safer neighborhoods for LGBT couples and their families. However, they typically come with higher home prices and costs of living, too.
In addition to these factors, statistically, the average age of getting married and having children is later for LGBT couples. This may mean that consistent saving may begin later, too. Of course, the earlier a couple begins saving together, the more time they have for both active-earning and wealth building. If you don’t have a savings plan in place, however, there is no need for distress. It is never too late to get into the habit of saving, and it’s certainly never a bad time to strategize new ways to build your nest egg.
Step 3: Embrace the Importance of Paperwork
A big part of financial planning is preparing for the unexpected, and you will want to make sure you have all your paperwork in order in case of an emergency. This includes documents like your will, power of attorney, advanced healthcare directive, adoption papers, and life insurance. Having these documents in order is especially crucial for LGBT couples who are in a domestic partnership or common law marriage. In this case, be sure to fill out any available paperwork to ensure items like property, insurance, or Social Security benefits will transfer to your partner. Also, be mindful that common law marriage and domestic partnerships are not recognized in every state, so check up on the laws before moving or buying assets.
An additional step to consider is putting your documents online in a secure cloud for easy remote access. Having your paperwork readily available can help speed up emergency instances where proof of marriage, guardianship, or next of kin is necessary. One example of this type of secure storage is Box.
Step 4: Let Go of ‘Money Shame’
For many people, there is a connection between their finances and shame. Tammy Lally identified “money shame” in her TEDx Talk as being “the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed—and therefore unworthy of love and belonging based on our bank account balances, our debts, our homes, our cars, and our job titles.”
LGBTQIA communities suffer from higher levels of anxiety and stress often caused by guilt, low self-esteem, and the feeling of not being accepted by society or members of their family and friends. Let’s not also allow “money shame” into the mix. Remember, you are not your bank account so don’t attach your self-worth to it. Here are a few tips on uncoupling this emotional connection:
Remember that money and wealth are subjective.
Keep in mind that $1,000 can feel very different to two different people. You could be setting yourself up for believing atypical norms if you begin objectively comparing yourself to others.
Talk with people you trust.
One of the components of shame is secrecy. Being able to share your financial woes with people you trust can help – and you’re likely to learn that you are not the only one experiencing challenges.
Reexamine your budget.
At the end of the month, take stock of your finances. Start by listing what you think you spent your money on for the month, and then look at what you actually spent it on. Do the two lists match? See what you can do to take control and adjust thought to reality.
Step 5: Check All Your Insurance Boxes
If you’ve purchased a home, you know that homeowner’s insurance is a must. What about types of insurance that aren’t required by law, though? If you truly want to protect your loved ones from an unexpected financial emergency, you should consider both life Insurance and disability insurance, too. Both are great ways to increase financial stability for your family and give yourself more peace of mind.
Final Thoughts on Financial Planning for LGBT Couples
Our finances are intertwined with so many aspects of our lives, and they can be especially important when we’re building a life with someone else. Take time to work through the tips above with your spouse or partner in order to give your family a firmer financial foundation as you move toward your shared future goals.
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Estate planning is all about looking toward the future and preparing a strategy that accomplishes your goals and meets your loved ones’ needs. Planning your estate often includes, but is not limited to, a will and/or revocable living trust and an advanced healthcare directive.
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