Flipping Out: We're Havin' a Gaybie
Flipping Out Jeff Lewis is having Baby
What happens when finances take a front seat for partners Jeff Lewis and Gage Edwards
en route to parenthood on Bravo TV's reality series Flipping Out?
Now in its ninth season, Bravo TV's reality show Flipping Out has been following the adventures of champion house flipper Jeff Lewis, his trusty staff and posse of pets. This season, he and his partner Gage have embarked on their most ambitious endeavor ever; they are expecting a baby via a surrogate. I'm not gonna lie, when a recent episode saw them dealing with many of the financial issues they needed to figure out before their child's birth, I said to myself, "OK, now they're talking."
Gaybies are definitely 'in' this season (wink, wink), which is a logical given the wave of same sex couples marrying since our historic win in the Supreme Court, showing that love is love. But the desire to build a family as a profound expression of that love also brings with it some very critical financial issues and consequences.
Here are a few things for LGBT couples expecting a baby should consider:
Financial readjustment for our new Baby:
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, it's estimated that it will cost a middle-income couple around $245,000 to raise an average child to age 18. Like Jeff Lewis who is a celebrity however, many parents in the LGBT community are not "middle income" or trying to raise "average" children. (Sad but true, many of gaybies I've had the pleasure of meeting have sported more luxury duds by the ripe old age of 18 months than I have owned in my entire life.) But the reality is that more opportunities you want to offer your child and the higher the quality of life you want to provide, the deeper you're going to be digging into your pocketbook. And whether you are Fabulous, Frugal or a workable combination of the two, raising a child will mean a major readjustment to your cash flow and spending plans. Get ready because it's going to be a bumpy ride.
Life insurance for Gay Families:
I was pleased to see Jeff going through his paramedic exam to get life insurance because it brings up an important issue for all parents. No matter how careful or motivated you are, you cannot control everything in life. But what you can do is prepare for contingencies in the event that things go wrong.
In the case of Flipping Out, Jeff and Gage work together at the former's business. Without Jeff I'd bet much of the income would dry up rather quickly. Even if one partner is a stay-at-home you should still get life insurance coverage on both spouses.
Life insurance coverage on both spouses regardless of income is important. Many LGBT couples have ignored life insurance assuming their significant other can get a job and pay the bills themselves if the worst were to happen. But it's not a safe assumption because as with so much of life, you just never know . . . What you do know is that your offspring can't get a job as children and are totally dependent on you for their care. A good rule of thumb is for each partner to have 12 to 15 times his income in life insurance coverage. You may need more or less depending on your situation and other assets, lifestyle, family and other dependents. Often the difference in cost between getting enough coverage and putting your family at risk is just a few dollars per month.
Estate planning for LGBT Families with Children:
Mortality issues are never fun but hopefully a new family member on the way will be the kick in the butt to you get your estate planning documents in order. Now is the time for both parents to put together a will, trust, power of attorney, health care proxy and medical directive. It all sounds scarier than it is and once completed, you'll rest easier.
Marital status for expecting families:
The LGBT community has been basking in the glow of our hard-fought win for marriage equality across this country. Many more couples are getting married, but all the same I know many who are sticking with the if-it-ain't-broke-don't-fix-it status quo and not wandering down the aisle. When it comes to kids and finances, it varies from family to family whether marriage is a good idea.
If you as a committed, but unmarried, gay couple are already the proud parents of a teenager make sure to check how getting married may effect your child's college financial aid (hint: it's often not good). For those with younger children, I'd say do what's right for you. Keep in mind that all of the financial planning stuff above - which is important for everyone - is even more imperative if you aren't legally married so that everyone is, literally, on the same page.
Financial house in order
"We're going to end up redoing this little girl's room like a hundred times," Jeff Lewis told People Magazine in May.
While decorating the nursery may be way more fun, getting your financial house in order before your new baby turns your life upside down is advice I pass along to any expecting parent. Proactive moms or dads can set smart examples of how to be a financially savvy gay (link to previously approved article) for their progeny.
If you need a help cutting through the clutter, reach out to a savvy professional whether an estate planning attorney, Certified Financial Planner or both. These pros are in business of getting you on the road to financial independence to make your dreams - and the dreams of your growing family - a reality.
Until next Be Fiscally Fabulous, and remember GAY MONEY MATTERS!
DAVID RAE, CFP®, AIF® is a Los Angeles-based retirement planner with Trilogy Financial Services. He has been helping friends of the LGBT community reach their financial goals for over a decade. He is a regular contributor to the Advocate Magazine and Huffington Post as well as the author of the Financial Planner Los Angeles Blog. Follow him on Facebook, 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 and NPC are separate and unrelated companies. The opinions voiced in this article are for general information only. They are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual and do not constitute an endorsement by NPC. NPC does not render tax or legal advice.