Gay Money Matters, and so does your Happiness.
Being gay is about who we love and how we live.
Let's make it about how we spend and how we save too.
The jury is out whether the old saying "Money can't buy you happiness" is actually true but no one can argue with my other favorite bon mot, "When money goes out the door, love flies out the window." As a group the LGBT community has many monetary advantages, true. But let's see how we can maximize our financial happiness in our own gay way as we live it up.
1) Spend money on experiences rather than STUFF: Do you really think when you are 90 you are going to be talking with your friends about what an amazing time you had buying the gold Apple $15,000 Apple iWatch (which then became antiquated the following year when the better one came out)? But for sure you'll reminisce about that wine tasting trip you took to France or the time you went zip lining through the rainforests of Costa Rica.
2) Avoid the trap of lifestyle inflation: Would you believe people living in poverty in the developing world are often happier than billionaires here in the US? While striving, aspiration and ambition are part of the American character - and really part of the gay American character -- the downside is our toxic tendency to compare ourselves to others, draw erroneous conclusions about our worthiness or happiness and then spend more than we can afford to 'keep up'. As a longtime resident of West Hollywood, I can tell you that there will always be someone richer, smarter, skinnier, buffer or just more fabulous than you. Everywhere. Good for them. But now it's time to step up and acknowledge all the fabulous things you already have and already are. Good for you.
3) Don't let money rule your whole life: This one's related to lifestyle inflation. The more you work the more you make. The more you make the more you want. The more you want the more you have to work. This can be a vicious cycle. Wanting a little less means that you could save a little more, a gift to your future.
4) Remember to be generous because givers gain: Buy something for yourself, you will happy for a few hours. Buy something for someone else and you will be happy for days. And they should be happy too if they aren't a dick. Plus, they'll be saying nice things about you behind your back . . . always a plus in any town that runs on gossip.
5) Pay someone else to do tasks you hate: Do I have the skills to clean my house? Probably. Do I make more at my job than I lose by paying someone to clean my house? YES. Am I happier if someone else does it? ABSOLUTELY! Does my house sparkle more when someone else does it? MOST DEFINITELY YES. Problem solved.
6) Get your priorities straight: I have a "friend" who drives a (leased) Range Rover, wears the latest designer clothes and expensively eats out every meal. Sounds fabulous, right? Well guess again, because he has no furniture in his studio apartment and has to avoid trips with friends because he can't afford to travel. To each his own, but being a grown-up means owning your own bed (and being gay means owning fabulous sheets to make it with).
7) Don't spend money you don't have: This is often the single most important lesson you must learn because without it you will never achieve financial security. I'm sorry, but that liposuction you're getting before Coachella is not an "investment." And if it goes on a credit card, you're going to be stuck in misery paying for it over and over again.
8) Avoid bad debt: Credit card bills may seem manageable for a bit, but they always have a way of spiraling out of control. Then you are just paying the interest, it's eating up a huge portion of your budget, and it will crowd out all the fun stuff you like to do. On the other hand, paying off good debt can only help you in the long run. Though my husband and I carry what seems like obscenely large mortgage, but at least we've built up a ton of equity in our home at the same time we get to live there.
9) Have an emergency fund: Life happens . . . your car breaks down, your brother is having a big destination wedding (and since you've been tapped for best man you HAVE TO GO), or God forbid, you get sick or get laid off. Having a nice financial safety net can really help reduce the level of stress of unforeseen events. According to The Atlantic magazine "nearly half of American would have trouble finding $400 to cover an emergency." Are you one of them? Don't be.
10) Set financial independence goals: I find my clients have a much easier time turning their goals into realities when they have a financial independence plan in place. Example: dream trips around the world often come with a huge price tag, but it's way easier to say yes when the money is already set aside in your "travel fund." On the other hand, if you have to pull it out of your 401(k), you're going to hate the tax bill the IRS sends you next April, taking the 'bon' right out of your 'voyage'.
Financial independence doesn't have to be a zero sum game when it comes to happiness. You don't have sacrifice one to have the other. But you do have to plan, get your timing right, operate intelligently and maybe postpone a few temporary pleasures now for your long-term happiness later. It'll pay, I promise. Big time.
Until next time, and as always Be Fiscally Fabulous! Gay Money Matters.
DAVID RAE, Certified Financial Planner™ Accredited Investment Fiduciary™ is a Los Angeles-based retirement planning adviser with Trilogy Financial Services. He is living the "Millionaire next door" lifestyle, as well as being a regular contributor to the Advocate Magazine and a financial planner proudly serving friends of the LGBT community for over a decade. Follow him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/davidraecfp or via his website, www.davidraefp.com.
Securities and advisory services offered through National Planning Corporation (NPC), Member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Adviser. Additional advisory services offered through Trilogy Capital, a Registered Investment Adviser. Trilogy Capital, Trilogy Financial Services and NPC are separate and unrelated companies.