Pride month wraps up this week. As noted in my earlier blog posts this month, the LGBT community faces many financial hurdles just as we still face social and civil rights hurdles. Some hurdles, like acceptance, may take a lifetime to overcome. Others, such as improving your financial well being can begin immediately. So, take the euphoria of Pride and decide that it is time to help yourself on the road to financial fitness.
It’s true that there are a variety of factors working against you. For example, LGBT folks often feel the need to live in high-priced areas such as New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Miami, and Los Angeles to feel safe, feel accepted, find community, and find fulfilling work. Many LGBT people tend to overspend in their youth influenced by glossy lifestyle magazines, blogs, and social media. This is a bit celebratory and is also perceived as a need for building community and acceptance. With age usually comes the wisdom that your friends will always be your friends and you don’t need to spend to impress. This takes time, and the debt incurred can be a challenge to overcome. LGBT folks still face hiring and workplace discrimination at various levels. This can lead to earning less, sporadic employment, or under employment, and compounds financial hurdles if you are living in a high-cost area and have a spending problem.
It’s not all dreary, so cheer up! We are making progress in society at large, and marriage equality has been a huge boost socially and financially. Here are a few things to keep you moving proudly forward.
Take Pride month euphoria and carry it forward with you into your personal life. Take Pride in your personal accomplishments and regularly build on those. You should especially take Pride in the fact that you acknowledge we can all be better with our finances. Start small, and build. Your first step is simply acknowledging you want to be better about your financial health and wealth.
Look at your most challenging area first. This is very personal for each of us and it may be spending, earning, lack of savings, etc. Take one small step each month to make that less of a challenge. If it’s saving, look at ways to increase saving. If it’s spending, review and revise your spending plan. If it’s earning, document your performance improvements at work over time and ask for a raise. Are you interested in a side gig? That could help you earn more if you have the capacity to take on more work.
Review your cash flow. Look at it monthly and calculate an annual estimate as well. Prepare a simple personal balance sheet and see where you stand. This exercise is valuable because it can help you with spending, saving, and earning. It really clarifies what’s going on in your financial life.
Generally speaking, most folks need to focus on building an emergency fund of cash, monitoring their monthly cash flow (know what you own, what you owe), and work on destroying debt. I am often asked which should occur first? The answer is that you work on all areas simultaneously, but in the beginning, you may need to focus more in one area. That’s where my final tip comes in: get help.
You can now search for a fee-only, LGBT friendly adviser from resources such as the Certified Financial Planner board of standard’s letsmakeaplan.org, or the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, or the XY Planning Network (fair disclosure, I am a NAPFA and XYPN member and in good standing with the CFP® board). You can also utilize technology to help you. There are many ways to go such as using budgeting apps, expense tracking, and even personal finance blogs (like this one!), and social media sites. As an LGBT community member, I can relate. And as an independent Certified Financial Planner™, I can help you understand your finances, define your goals, and take charge. Contact me and let’s get started. Happy Pride!
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