It’s pride month everyone! So, let’s talk about the specific challenges my fellow LGBTQ+ folks go through as it relates to their finances. This week’s article comes from Investopedia with the “Guide to Finance for LGBTQ+ People.” This guide is the most comprehensive that I’ve ever seen of its kind. There really is not much information for this underserved community out there. Not having this information readily available is unacceptable. My hope is that this post will help even one LGBTQ+ person find some information that will positively affect their life.
How Did We Get Here?
The guide mentions key historical moments that have shaped the challenges faced today by the LGBTQ+ community. I won’t go into the full history here, but it is well worth the read. It is important to remember the reason we celebrate pride today. The 1969 Stonewall Riots where police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in NYC. Many of those who rose up in protest that day were member of the African American and transgender community. We stand on their shoulders today and have a responsibility to continue to right the injustices facing our community. Justice is both a long and short term battle. Policy and long lasting change needs to be kept in mind while learning how to cope with the challenges of today. The short term is what this guide addresses today while keeping in mind the context needed to fight for the future.
These milestone events have had substantial ramifications for LGBTQ+ people in relation to finance. Whether it was leaving out protections against discrimination or granting rights (such as health coverage and marital status tax and other benefits), these events shaped the financial future for LGBTQ+ people in the form of personal finance, debt, insurance, retirement, and many other areas.
Yes, There ARE Differences
I have heard arguments before that “Not that marriage equality is here, what’s really the difference other than having kids?” Well, there are specific costs associated with the LGBTQ+ community and I’m overjoyed to see these issues explained here. On top of that, Investopedia offers advice on how to confront these issues head on. Some key takeaways combat nay sayer claims straight away:
Much of the change and movement for the advancement of LGBTQ+ rights occurred in the last 50 years, which means that members of these communities are still learning how to cope financially with the specific challenges that they face.
Members of LGBTQ+ communities have less saved for retirement, on average.
LGBTQ+ people carry $16,000 more student loan debt than their cisgender/heterosexual peers.
Family planning for LGBTQ+ people can easily cost in the tens of thousands of dollars.
LGBTQ+ retirees may have less saved for retirement and wish to retire to accepting communities that can have higher-than-average living costs.
Marriage and Family
Winning the right of marriage equality changed the game for the LGBTQ+ community in the best way. It opened up various benefits for couples, like Social Security, insurance, taxes, joint assets (easing retirement planning) and more. There are many who do not see the benefits of getting married without the desire to have children. However, the loss of these benefits over a lifetime can have drastic effects on your finances. Take these into consideration before making that decision.
Currently, my wife and I are planning to start our family next year. I spoke to our insurance company last year prior to COVID-19 changing our plans. They told me that we needed to fund our efforts on our own for 12 months in order to qualify for fertility benefits. I will be speaking with both them and my work before we start trying for a family. However, if that does not change, getting pregnant will cost us many thousands of dollars.
Of the options available for having children, many have average costs in the tens of thousands of dollars. These costs are so extreme that many go into debt just trying to have a family. Setting themselves up for harder times once their child actually arrives.
- Adoption: $20,000-$70,000
- In Vitro Fertilization: $13,000-$21,000 per attempt
- Surrogacy: $60,000-$150,000
To make things even harder, depending on where you live, there are restrictions on gestational surrogacy and potential for IVF to be outlawed as well. This adds more costs to either relocate to a more LGBTQ+ friendly location or pay for added legal challenges.
On top of the costs mentioned above, on average LGBTQ+ folks have more student loan debt than their heteronormative peers to the tune of $16,000. As with many in the younger generations, having high student loan debt has a waterfall effect on the rest of their lives. Up to 40% of the community reports being unable to purchase a home and 23% are unable to buy a car.
Owning a home is the number one way to transfer generational wealth, so this can have further effects on the children of LGBTQ+ families. If they can afford to have that family, that is. Debt is one of the keys to financial anxiety and stress, which can flow out to all aspects of life.
Less than half of the LGBTQ+ community lives in US states that do not offer insurance protection for them. This is a massive problem when it comes to health issues, particularly long term healthcare issues. Just speaking of life insurance and disability insurance, living in a state that does not support LGBTQ+ rights can try to deny receipt of benefits. This can increase an already existing debt problem metioned in the section above.
Even more concerning are health insurance issues, which includes gender confirmation surgeries. These surgeries can exceed the six figure mark. This causes many to turn to crowd funding platforms, like GoFundMe. This really begs the question of “What would you pay to be comfortable in your own skin?”
There are additional costs when confronted with a doctor that does not recognize someone’s gender or other issues. Luckily, the industry is startign to change, but without the support of state governments it will be a long, uphill battle.
The other issues of debt, family planning and insurance all feed into the retirement crisis facing the LGBTQ+ community. Because of these issues, members of the community have less on average saved for retirement. On top of that, their income is markedly less than that of their heteronormative counterparts.
The reason that the Transgender community is not included in this table is only due to the fact that the data was not available for it. However, reports show that there Transgender folks are even more likely to live in poverty and 15% have an income of less than $10,000 per year. That would require them to live on less than $27 per day to stay within their means. Frankly, this is unacceptable.
The lack of marriage benefits, like Social Security, being able to transfer pension or account benefits post death are still felt even with marriage equality having been passed at the Federal level. This has caused massive tax burden due to the requirment for lump sum payments and costly legal challenges. With all of this in mind, it is extremely important to get your Elder Care package created and kept up to date. If you don’t know where to start, here is a free resource for you.
Where To Live
One aspect of this that runs through all of these other costs is that it is incredibly hard to go through life not being accepted and even more difficult in states where the law is not on your side. For this reason, most LGBTQ+ folks live in cities and states where the law and community is more accepting. Having these communities as an option is a wonderful thing. However, these locations tend to be more expensive.
With the decision to live in a HCOL area, comes the result of increased risk of debt, which will impact the rest of their lives. How do you put a price on being able to be yourself at all times? It’s a priceless freedom, but the costs can be extremely steep.
The Full Guide
To walk through the guide in its entirety would take much longer than this post already is. However, I STRONGLY recommend that you do so. There are specific categories for each of these sections mentioned above plus more. My favorite section being the “Foundations of Economic Security.” This section includes employment, education and representation. Take the time to go through each section to walk through the issues. Even if you’re just an ally, it’s important to be aware of the hurdles you may not have had to jump through to better understand the struggles of those that do.
Share this guide with a friend and get them this crucial information. Of course, advice in an article can only do so much since personal finance is personal. If you or someone you know needs the services of a financial coach to walk through the options, I’d highly recommend doing so.
Was this information useful to you? Let me know in the comments below!