There’s more than one way to come out of the closet
LGBTQ people are very familiar with how to come out of the closet about our sexual orientations and gender identities. We’re not so good with coming out of the closet about our money. Here’s how we can change that.
This is a sponsored post written in partnership with Prudential Financial. All opinions expressed in this post are based on our personal views.
Is it time to come out of your money closet?
Prudential’s making a concerted effort to help many communities across America understand the importance of financial wellness and give families and individuals the tools to reach it. Some of the data they’ve uncovered as a part of their 2018 Financial Wellness Census has helped them understand the current state of America’s financial wellness. We’ve partnered with Prudential to help more in the LGBTQ community discover some of our money truths.
As part of this financial wellness campaign, we recently interviewed on Queer Money® financial therapist and financial wellness advocate for Prudential, Amanda Clayman. A striking theme from that interview is that both older and younger LGBTQ couples lack the role models needed to help them manage their money as couples, and how small changes can drastically improve our financial wellness.
“Especially if queer people are growing up with heterosexual cis parents,” as Clayman says, “the model for how their lives should look maybe something they’re creating themselves.” Often, members of our community are not represented in financial services’ advertising and we don’t grow up watching how a healthy LGBTQ couple manages their money together, so we’re left filling in the blanks of what a healthy relationship looks like between LGBTQ couples and their money.
The rapid changes that we’ve had with marriage equality not that long ago, and inconsistent laws for LGBTQ people from state to state, exacerbate these challenges for LGBTQ couples. “If we look at certain institutional elements, such as being able to get married [or] qualifying for spousal and retirement benefits, these have huge impacts on people’s lives,” Clayman says. She continues, “It’s not just ‘what does the law say’ or ‘what does the law say today,’ it’s how do we incorporate different ideas of role models [into our lives] or what a life-cycle looks like.”
Connecting these dots is hard because money, like gender identity and sexual orientation, is so personal and holds a lot of emotion that people feel personal shame and embarrassment around, especially in the ways that they struggle. Consequently, we mask our truth to present what we want people to see or what we think people expect. “We are, so many of us, presenting this very closeted view of our selves financially, and what that does is keep us individually and collectively disempowered,” says Clayman.
We can now have this discussion out in the open. We must have this conversation out in the open.
As Clayman says, “With living in the closet, there’s a sense that ‘my outside self needs to look a certain way and I need to protect my inside self.’ There’s something about our relationship or our circumstances about money that feels vulnerable. For many, that vulnerable part stays locked away.”
For people who have already come out of the closet about their sexual orientation or gender identity and expressing their human truth, we’re now asking for them to extend that into their financial lives, to look at their truth as a 360-experience. We need to ask ourselves whether there is a disconnect between our public and private financial reality. Will it be easy? No. But just like coming out of the closet about our sexual orientation or gender identity, it will be liberating.
3 ways to come out of the closet about money
Clayman asks, “Where does financial wellness fit in the scope of all the other things that we’re working on achieving in our lives?” To be true, financial wellness is higher up on the triangle of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs but that doesn’t make it any less important.
For a community that’s still seeking safety, security and equality, financial wellness may not be top of mind. However, it’s important that we include financial wellness when we talk about self-care and our mental and physical health. Otherwise, we risk avoiding our financial health and may never truly achieve safety, security or equality.
Adding this talking point to our community discussion is simple. Clayman says, “Just starting a conversation helps people ease up on their boundaries around money.” When we ease up on those boundaries, we’ll have honest discussions that truly help LGBTQ individuals, LGBTQ couples and the LGBTQ community.
How do we come out of the closet about our money? Clayman says, “It starts with getting the information, then engaging and participating in the money conversation.”
1. Find a financial mentor
Even though finding mentors for managing money as an LGBTQ couple may not be as easy as turning to mom and dad, there are people who can provide examples of financial wellness with whom to establish a financial mentorship.
Look for a financial mentor within your own micro-community, someone who may just be doing a little better than you who can share their challenges and successes and who can point you in the right direction to find answers.
Keep in mind that not every relationship needs an aim. You could just have conversations about money in the same way buddies talk about investment strategies on the golf course or how you kiki over the latest Drag Race results.
2. Find a financial confidant
When we open up to even one person, it lets us expand our truth and be more inclusive in our community. It starts with person-to-person visibility and then expands outward.
We’ve long advocated for finding an accountability partner. An accountability partner can be a financial peer who checks in on your progress or with whom you partner to lift each other. And it doesn’t even need to be one person. One or more LGBTQ couples can also be accountability partners for each other.
If you’re struggling with managing your financial wellness and you want to make changes, find one or more couples in your circle of friends or circle of influence who you can work with the same way many people do with investment clubs.
3. Find relevant financial resources
Find resources about and tailored to LGBTQ money, which is becoming easier to find every day.
The topic of LGBTQ money within finance media and financial services is gaining traction. This is a good thing because as we often say while the fundamentals of money are the same for all, there are unique risks, concerns and nuances that makeup about 20% of money that is different for LGBTQ people.
Many LGBTQ blogs and podcasts cover LGBTQ personal finance topics, and more blogs and podcasts dedicated to LGBTQ personal finance are popping up daily. Traditional finance media are covering LGBTQ money-related topics more regularly and financial services firms, such as Prudential, are doing a lot of work to better understand and help the LGBTQ community. (See more of the LBGTQ findings in their report The Cut: Exploring Financial Wellness in Diverse Populations.)
Finally, money coaches and therapists, such as Clayman, are learning more about the LGBTQ community and our financial challenges to better serve their LGBTQ clients and couples with their money.
Find the combination of resources that best helps you and your partner, then share what you learn with your closer LGBTQ community. As we mentioned, personal finance in the LGBTQ community is gaining traction. You could be the early adopter in your circle of friends on something that is incredibly beneficial.
There are many ways that we can come out of the closet today, and there are many reasons to do so. Financial wellness is just one. But, to climb higher on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, it’s important that we do. The three tips above are a good start.
Click here to take the Financial Wellness Quiz and find out how you’re doing and some tips that will help even the savviest improve their finances.