It's not just a problem for gay people but when consumerism runs rampant it can stunt our futures. Here are a few tips from a financial planner to negotiate around those uncontrollable urges to keep up with the Fabulous Gay Joneses.
By David Rae Certified Financial Planner™ Accredited Investment Fiduciary™
If you would rather look rich than actually become wealthy, then stop reading now. If, on the other hand you actually want help to reach your financial goals - you do have financial goals, don't you? - here are a few tips that can help you maintain a great lifestyle while also enjoying that lifestyle going far into the future.
One of the great joys of our gay culture is a heightened appreciation of things; things to do, things to see, things to have, things to buy. And we particularly love the latest things. But the flipside of that coin is that it can be tough to keep spending under control. My favorite quote from Fight Club sums it up perfectly: "We buy things we don't need, with money we don't have, to impress people we don't like."
There is another way.
David Rae's Five Financial Commandments to help achieve Fiscal Fabulousness
1) Spend less than you make: Seems pretty obvious, right? But don't we all have at least one gay friend with a busy social life, heavy travel schedule and incredible wardrobe but with thousands of dollars of debt?
Repeat after me: Carrying balances on credit cards is a great way to kill your chances of creating wealth. It's not how much you make, but how much you keep that drives wealth accumulation. Also, with no emergency fund, small balances on credit cards can quickly spiral out of control. By paying off your balance and eliminating having to pay credit card interest, you'll actually have more money to spend in the long run.
2) Ignore the Gay Joneses:
We all suffer from some status envy, but often those status symbols are merely mirages. They're not real. Living in West Hollywood, I can tell you that looks are deceiving. That gorgeous guy driving a Bentley may actually be living out of that Bentley too. And how many of the "Real Housewives" have had their cars or even houses repossessed? Not to mention jail time. Nothing to envy about that.
So only spend what makes sense for your pocketbook. And if you're worried that you'll lose friends because you're not rocking the latest pair of $500 sunglasses, maybe it's time to get some new friends.
3) Brush up on your bargain-finding skills:
Like a lot of gay people, I love to travel. I also love to get a great deal and often shop around for major purchases. (My husband counts himself lucky that I actually find this enjoyable.) Last year a few friends headed out for a trip. I bought my flight in advance and got a pretty good deal. One friend procrastinated and found himself stuck in a middle seat, squeezed between two hefty Midwesterners, for almost double what I paid. We both went to the same place but he got no added value for the extra expense.
A dollar saved is better than a dollar earned (and no taxes are due on savings). To think of it another way, the more you save in one area like flights, the more money you'll have to spend on fun things like dinner with friends or, it kills me to say this, $500 sunglasses.
4) Understand that need and want are not the same thing:
It really amazes me how often people confuse these two things. For example: "I want the new iPhone 6" is not the same as "My cell phone died, I need a new one." Yes, it's true. You read it here first.
5) Pay yourself first by saving automatically:
Set up an automatic deposit into a saving account, retirement account or even a mutual fund. Make it automatic and treat it like it's a bill. If you never see the money because it's tucked safely away earning interest, it'll less likely to tempt you into spending it.
You may be surprised how you don't miss the money, and how quickly it adds up.
You can even use this trick for short-term goals like a vacation. Think of how much
more fun you could have knowing your Atlantis Cruise or Provincetown stay is paid in
full, in advance and without coming home to a mountain of debt.
These are just a few basic steps you can take right now to help get you moving in the right direction financially, and on the road to true financial security. Working with a fiduciary financial planner to map out your financial goals can help you get on track to setting and achieving your goals.
Whether you are just entering the work force, about to retire or anywhere in between, the best advice I can give you now is to get your head out of the sand, pay yourself first and start accumulating wealth now. Being a fiscally fabulous gay may be more challenging for some than others - but hey, who says you're not up for a challenge? -- but no one's ever said "I wish I had I'd starting saving later or saved less." Ever.
As always, surround yourself with people who help your light shine bright and Be Fiscally Fabulous!
DAVID RAE, CFP®, AIF® is a Los Angeles-based retirement planner with Trilogy Financial based in Los Angeles, a regular contributor to the Advocate Magazine and a financial adviser proudly serving friends of the LGBT community for over a decade. For more information visit his website www.Davidraefp.com
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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 and NPC are separate and unrelated companies. All opinions reflect those of the author and not necessarily NPC.