While this may feel like a golden age for the LGBTQ community—with the affirmation of marriage equality and a cultural shift embracing diversity—these successes may distract from some of the important work that needs to be accomplished before members of this community can feel fully secure.
ESTABLISHING JOB SECURITY
While women have long advocated for equal pay for equal work, job security is perhaps even more essential than equitable pay for the LGBTQ community: 32 states today lack workplace discrimination laws in place to protect employees from being fired for their sexual or gender identity.
To rectify this situation, the Equality Act of 2015 was introduced by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) to expand the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
“The Equality Act would provide permanent protection against discrimination based upon an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity in a number of areas, such as employment, housing, and education, just to name a few,” says Cynthia Hearing, a senior consultant with Guardian Life Insurance. “Equal protection under the law is long overdue for LGBTQ individuals.”
While passage of the Equality Act remains uncertain, members of the LGBTQ community can improve their own financial future and develop peace of mind by taking steps to improve their personal financial security.
“For LGBTQ couples just getting married, to those who are starting a family, the need for proper estate, retirement, income tax, and divorce planning has never been more critical,” says Hearing. “As a result of marriage equality, all of the planning techniques financial professionals recommend to heterosexual married couples now apply with equal force to married same-sex couples.”
ADDRESSING FINANCIAL INSECURITY
A study done by Guardian1 found that 26 percent of working Americans—and the majority of LGBTQ individuals—feel seriously financially stressed. Only five percent of individuals in this most stressed segment feel they are on track to meet their financial goals and only 23 percent of people in this segment work with a financial professional.
A few simple steps can lead LGBTQ individuals and couples toward improved financial confidence, starting with basic budgeting and planning.
- Write down your income and expenses to bring clarity to your cash flow situation and provide an outline of where you may be able to save more money.
- Meet with a financial professional to educate yourself and to establish achievable goals, being sure to take a long-term view and develop a written plan to guide your future actions.
- Establish an automatic savings system to save 15 percent of every paycheck.
- Pay off any short-term or credit card debt as soon as you can, then stick to a practice of paying those bills in full each month.
- Participate in your employer’s retirement plan(s) and establish your own.
- Consider whole life insurance to protect your family and provide for the future.
- Talk with a financial professional or insurance agent about appropriate products for your needs.
Whether you are a single or married member of the LGBTQ community, taking charge of your financial health can lead to a greater sense of confidence in other aspects of your life.