Money moves for every gay teen
Homeless teens make up 40% of homeless youth in America. That means our LGBT teens need some serious financial help to be prepared for adulthood. Here are our five best money moves to make when you’re gay and 18.
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Money moves from 21 to 18-year-olds
John posted a “Dear John” letter to his 21-year-old self a while back. It was an open letter of what he’d say to himself in his 20s about money, knowing what he knows now. Hindsight is always 20/20, right? So, with our 20/20 hindsight vision, here’s my advice for money moves to make when you’re gay and 18.
Money moves with 18 and life
This made me think of my challenges in my twenties and my struggles with being gay. I was raised a Jehovah Witness (J-dub for short). Everything I heard and read about being gay was bad. This created an internal conflict because I knew as early as nine years old that I was exactly who my minister railed against. I knew what to expect when I told my parents I was gay. I knew they’d kick me out of the house and I’d likely never see them again.
My crystal ball didn’t lie.
When the day came to tell my family I was gay, not only was I scared to lose them, I was scared of how I would take care of myself physically, emotionally and financially. In a flash, I’d be alone. Being raised to believe that “the church” would take care of me from cradle to grave, I didn’t prepare to be emotionally or financially independent. I wasn’t organized financially.
Whether we jump out or are pushed out of the nest, many queer kids and young adults find themselves in similar financial situations with similar fears. This made me think of how The Debt Free Guys™ could help queer people in their teens and twenties who face similar situations.
6 Money Moves for those 18 and Gay (or Straight)
1. Get Banked – With a recent survey showing that a whopping 50% of LGBTQ respondents saying they did not have a bank account; queer people especially queer youth are spending more money on financial transactions than those that have bank accounts. Even if its just a few dollars a month more, that is money you don’t need to be spending. What do we suggest?
Start with a simple easy to use an online bank. One that you can manage from your phone that if necessary, can be away from the eyes of non-supportive parents or family members. Chime is a great option. You can manage it from your phone, and you can have any money you are earning be directly deposited or even a portion of it deposited into Chime so no one else knows you’re using it. Check out Chime today.
2. Start earning money – The simple fact is that if you are a younger teen, earning a few bucks every week is going to allow you to start building up savings and reserve of cash for any emergency. If you had to leave home at a moment’s notice for your safety, wouldn’t it be nice to have some cash to fall back on to cover your expenses?
You can start small when it comes to earning a few bucks a week. There are some great tools that can you as a younger teen that don’t require you to get a job. For example, survey sites allow you to sign up with your phone or a computer, spend a few hours a week answering questions and earn between $5-10, which can add up to over $500 a year if you stick with it. Survey Junkie is a great one we like. They pay you via PayPal, which is cash in your bank account mentioned above or in gift cards, which can be used like cash depending on which you choose to receive. Learn more about Survey Junkie.
Another favorite of ours is Swagbucks. Swagbucks allows you to earn money taking surveys as well, but it also allows you to earn rewards when you buy things you’d normally be purchasing online. Start earning money with Swagbucks.
If you’re able, get a job so that you can earn more money. Doing this can help you spend time outside of a home that isn’t supportive. I wish I had done this when I was younger. It would have allowed me to start setting even more money aside.
3. Start investing – Back when I was a queer teen, I wish I had learned about the value of investing at an early age. It is one of the smartest money moves any teen, but especially gay teens can make. Today I now know that no one get’s rich without setting aside money and then putting that money to work through investing. That can be investing in a business or investing in stocks. Either way, had I learned that I would definitely have more money today.
Getting started early is the key, but there are so many options, where should you start? We suggest starting with something simple to use and understand. We suggest trying out Acorns.
Acorns is a simple platform that allows you to invest spare change into an account rather than having to come up with $25 or $50 a month, something many LGBTQ teens just simply don’t have. Acorns allows you to build up your investments over time with small dollar amounts. It will add up though. The other cool thing, is you don’t have to be a genius to invest. They take care of the investing for you. You answer a few simple questions and they pick a smart investment based on your answers. One that makes sense for you.
Imagine heading off to college or graduating from college and having a few thousand dollars saved up to start your new life. Acorns can help you get there. Learn more about Acorns.
4. Build Your Credit Score – Sometimes we don’t know what we’ve got until it’s gone, right? This is certainly the case with a good credit score.
Having a good credit score will end up saving you thousands of dollars on credit cards, loans, mortgages and in some cases help you get an apartment, cell phone plan or even a job. Understanding what makes up a credit score, the things you can do to maintain or rebuild your score is vital in today’s world. A couple of bad moves and you could end up spending years trying to recover.
How do you start to build or fix your score? First, find out your score. We like the free tool Credit Sesame.
Credit Sesame is a great place to start with building your credit. You only need your social security number, phone number and your address to sign up. Once you sign up you will see your credit score and then a list of items that help make up your credit score. You will see things like the amount of credit you have, how often you are making payments on time, whether you’ve opened any recent accounts and the total amount of credit you have available. For some of you, these numbers may be incomplete because you haven’t started building a credit profile. What should you do?
Credit Sesame gives you a list of suggested steps to take that will help you start building your credit score. You don’t need to take them all right away, but slowly work away at them and you will see your credit score start to increase. Who knows, you could start out with a top tier score of above 800 right off the bat. So, sign up for Credit Sesame for free today.
5. Live below your means – One of the biggest mistakes I made as a gay teen was to not understand really how money and debt worked. When I got money, I spent it. I never saved a penny. Especially when my grandmother passed away and I got $1,000. Poof! It was gone within a few weeks. I couldn’t tell you today what I spent that on.
One of the most important things to learn as a young adult is that if you spend all the money you have and more, you won’t end up with any money. Remember, no one gets rich spending more money than they make.
Had I learned how to track my money as a young gay teen, I would have known where it was going, when it came in and how to make sure some of it was being set aside for a better future.
6. Avoid student loan debt – This may seem nearly impossible today, but too many students are completely unaware of the poor decisions that their parents and high school counselors are encouraging them to make. They say, “Just go to school. You’ll make more money and live a better life.” Sadly, today over 60% of LGBT college graduates regret their student loans and wish they hadn’t taken on so much debt.
How do you avoid it? There are a number of ways to curb costs in school, but the biggest one is to find ways for someone else to pay for your education. One of the best ways that we’ve found is the Scholarship System.
Our friend Jocelyn created this system after she when through school, spent over $100,000 on her education and never paid a dime of it on her own. She found an amazing way to get regular, smaller dollar scholarships, that were rarely being rewarded, and make them pay for her education. There simply wasn’t the competition for these like there were for the $5,000, $10,000 or $25,000 scholarships.
Jocelyn now teaches this system to students and parents and has helped her students get over $1,200,000 in scholarships in just the past few years. Sign up for one of her free webinars and learn more about the best way to avoid student loan debt and get your college tuition paid for by someone else.
Your future seems like a long way off and money feels unimportant, but you’ll save yourself a world of financial hurt, especially if you’re at risk of losing your family if you take even half my suggestions. If you accomplish these five steps in the next year, you’ll be light years ahead of me at your age, regardless of whether you’re pushed out of or jump out of the nest.