Over the past 50 years, the LGBTQ+ rights movement has secured growing social acceptance and numerous legal protections for the LGBTQ+ community.
While that movement is far from over, those hard-fought legal and financial protections mean there are more opportunities than ever for LGBTQ+ people in the U.S. to experience financial freedom and accomplish their goals—whether that’s planning a family, buying that dream home or making sure loved ones are cared for.
One major barrier for LGBTQ+ people is that, until recently, they were unable to be legally married. But since the U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2015’s Obergefell vs. Hodges guaranteed same-sex couples the right to marry, nearly 300,000 same-sex couples have tied the knot.1 When they do, these families gain more than 1,000 federal benefits as it pertains to everything from income taxes and Social Security to health insurance and estate taxes.
In addition to securing numerous rights and protections, this milestone has led to a change in the financial needs of many LGBTQ+ couples and families. Today, LGBTQ+ and heterosexual adults are planning families at nearly the same rate. Nearly half (48 percent) of LGBTQ+ millennials age 18 to 35 said they were actively planning to grow their families, compared with 55 percent of their heterosexual peers.2
The LGBTQ+ community is a diverse group with a wide variety of experiences and challenges. Whether you’re planning to start or grow your family, budgeting for adoption or surgery, or saving for retirement, a financial plan can help you address those challenges and work toward realizing your goals.
Financial planning is an essential tool for preparing for life’s milestones, but for many LGBTQ+ people, having a plan that takes in to account their unique circumstances is especially important. Your plan should factor in your financial concerns, be they legal issues surrounding parenthood or barriers to home ownership, and offer strategies to help you work through them.
Your financial plan should also evolve over time. As the 2015 Supreme Court ruling shows, legal hurdles can change, and you should be prepared to take advantage of new opportunities as they arise.
1. Financial planning can give you financial freedom
Only about half of LGBTQ people ages 25 to 34 report feeling “in control” of their finances, according to a 2018 survey by Experian.3 In that survey, 34 percent of LGBTQ people said they’d like to overcome bad spending habits, compared with 28 percent of the general population. A financial professional can give you strategies to make confident and thoughtful financial decisions, which saves both money and time, so you can focus on your goals.
2. Financial planning can help you establish emergency savings
Coming “out” to an employer or other employees can risk the livelihoods of LGBTQ+ workers. While a 2020 Supreme Court decision extended Title VII protections under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to gay and transgender workers,4 nearly half of LGBTQ people believe that by coming out, they risk losing a job or career opportunities.5
3. Financial planning can help you fund your path to parenthood
Among LGBTQ+ millennials ages 18 to 35, 63 percent are considering expanding their family, which may involve adoption, foster care, reproductive technology or other paths to parenthood. Many of these come with substantial costs. For example, adopting a child can cost $20,000 to $45,000. The price of in vitro fertilization may be as much as $20,000.6
4. Financial planning can help make homebuying attainable
LGBTQ+ people are less likely to own a home than others; 49 percent are homeowners, compared with the overall population’s 64 percent, according to a 2018 Freddie Mac study.7 Still, many LGBTQ+ people, especially women, place a high value on milestone purchases, such as buying their own home.8
5. Financial planning can help you navigate a gender transition
For individuals navigating gender transition, medical treatments come with high costs. For example, gender-affirming surgery can cost roughly $25,000, according to the Philadelphia Center for Transgender Surgery, though the price of surgeries and treatments varies widely.9 A financial professional can help you explore funding sources to cover these costs.
6. Financial planning can better prepare you for retirement
LGBTQ+ people are more likely to be less prepared to retire than heterosexual people. In a 2018 Prudential survey, 55 percent of LGBTQ+ people had nothing saved for retirement, compared with 42 percent of non-LGBTQ+ respondents.8 Even LGBTQ+ people who had retirement plans had less saved. Further complicating this is the fact that LGBTQ+ people are less likely to have children who could assist them later in life.
7. Financial planning can help ensure your loved ones are taken care of
While the nationwide recognition of same-sex marriage has put LGBTQ+ couples on more equal footing when it comes to preparing their estates, there are still some concerns for LGBTQ+ families, such as leaving assets to an unwed partner. An estate plan can smooth over these concerns and ensure loved ones are taken care of.
Financial planning is a critical tool for anyone who wants to better manage their finances and plan for the future. For LGBTQ+ people, financial planning is also a way to capitalize on long-awaited legal rights and strive toward the life you’ve envisioned for yourself.
Consider working with a financial professional who understands your dreams and your circumstances and can help you move forward, wherever you’re at in your financial journey.