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Decades of challenges faced by the LGBTQ+ community have left a lasting impact on their finances, especially for those adults who couldn't access financial marital benefits until 2015. According to a 2018 Experian survey on LGBTQ+ finances, 62% of respondents reported experiencing financial challenges due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.
It's no surprise, then, that Experian's study found that compared with the general population, LGBTQ+ people struggle more to maintain savings and overcome bad spending habits. The good news is there's an increasing number of resources to help improve the community's economic distress. From affirming banks and family-building grants to free educational resources, these are some of the best financial resources to help LGBTQ+ people manage their money and achieve life goals.
Banks That Are Allies to the LGBTQ+ Community
Many financial institutions have made efforts to become more inclusive of the LGBTQ+ community, but a few go above and beyond. For investment companies, Prudential has a long record of supporting the community. When it comes to bank accounts and credit cards, these are some options that stand out:
- Daylight: New bank Daylight is unique in that it's designed specifically by and for the LGBTQ+ community. Daylight's goal is "queering banking for the better." While it's still waiting-list-only, it plans to offer cards with a customer's preferred name (which doesn't have to be the same as the name on your government-issued ID), an app with personal goal-setting, no minimum balance requirements, a built-in online community, tailored content and a support team that understands the LGBTQ+ experience.
- Citi: In an effort to be trans-affirming, Citi launched an initiative to make it easy for transgender and nonbinary customers to use the name of their choice on their account profiles and credit cards. Citi is working with MasterCard's True Name initiative, which will be available at more banking partners in the future.
- Wells Fargo: The bank offers card designs with LGBTQ+-themed images, such as the rainbow flag and trans pride flag. It also offers financial training for LGBTQ+-owned businesses, has many financial advisors who specialize in working with the LGBTQ+ community, promotes LGBTQ+ hiring efforts and donates extensively to relevant nonprofits.
Scholarships and Financial Aid for LGBTQ+ Members
Obtaining a higher education often comes with a steep price tag, and student loans can result in burdensome debt. Some organizations offer financial aid specifically for the LGBTQ+ community to help overcome financial barriers.
- Point Foundation: For 20 years, this organization has provided scholarships annually to those in the LGBTQ+ community who need help paying for their higher education. For the 2019-2020 school year, Point Foundation supported 60 four-year-college students, along with 25 community college students.
- Human Rights Campaign database: The Human Rights Campaign, one of the leading LGBTQ+ nonprofits in the country, has an extensive online database of scholarships for LGBTQ+ students.
Real Estate Professionals Who Are Members of the LGBTQ+ Community
While most forms of housing discrimination are illegal, it's not uncommon to hear anecdotes of LGBTQ+ homebuyers experiencing it at some point in the process.
One way to help reduce this risk is to use a real estate agent who is in the community themselves. Both the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance and NAGLREP are professional associations for LGBTQ+ people in the real estate industry, so consider finding a member in your area to work with (their sites have directories). They'll be able to help you navigate the process and make sure you only work with businesses that are LGBTQ+-friendly.
Another option is to see if your area has an LGBTQ+ chamber of commerce, since businesses that join do so because they're either in the community or affirming allies.
Family-Building Grants for LGBTQ+ Couples and Members
Family-building options for LGBTQ+ couples such as adoption, surrogacy and assisted reproduction treatments are extremely expensive. While some employers offer benefits that can assist with costs, health insurance plans typically don't cover anything, and others require an infertility diagnosis or other requirements that can hamper funding. But there are some resources that could help.
- LGBTQ+ family-building grants: The Family Equality Council has a long list of grants for LGBTQ+ people who need financial assistance for various forms of family-building (it notes which require an infertility diagnosis and which don't). Gay Parents to Be also has a list of grants and charities that offer financial support.
- Gay Parenting Assistance Program: Created by nonprofit organization Men Having Babies, the GPAP takes applicants and facilitates over a million dollars in financial support to gay prospective parents annually. Some applicants are selected to receive free or discounted services for IVF, surrogacy, egg donation or other related services, and a select number will get cash grants.
- Mate Fertility: This new startup company manages a network of fertility clinics and was co-founded by a member of the LGBTQ+ community after his own struggles to become a parent. They offer more affordable services, many geared toward the LGBTQ+ community, such as assisted reproduction and donor/surrogacy. They also have financing partners with negotiated rates for clients who need to borrow to pay for services.
Other LGBTQ+ Financial Resources
Beyond the resources we've already mentioned, make sure to consider these additional ways to get financial help or information.
- LGBTQ+-friendly financial planners: If you need help conquering debt, setting up a budget or investing for the future, you may want to find a financial planner who's either in the LGBTQ+ community or well-versed in its common issues. There are some financial management companies that focus on the community, such as Christopher Street Financial in New York and David Rae in Los Angeles. If you don't know of one in your area, check out the database of LGBTQ+-specialized financial planners on Guidevine.
- Online courses: Consider taking a free online class in financial literacy or wellness. While there aren't many geared specifically to the LGBTQ+ community, SAGECents is. SAGE is a nonprofit and advocacy organization for LGBTQ+ elders, and their SAGECents program is a free online platform to help improve financial literacy and stability. Forbes also lists some free general online educational platforms that can be useful to LGBTQ+ people.
- Personal finance blogs: There are several blogs that focus on the LGBTQ+ community, including Debt Free Guys, which is run by a gay couple whose mission is to "help other queer people live fabulously." Their blog, along with their podcast, is filled with free financial advice for LGBTQ+ people.
Setting Yourself Up for Success
Despite challenges that continue to affect the LGBTQ+ community, there are things within your control that can help you reach your financial and life goals. Getting on a budget, regularly checking your credit score, creating an emergency fund and keeping debt under control can go a long way to alleviate financial stress. When these actions aren't enough, the resources noted here can help you move forward and gain control of your finances.