The results of Experian's LGBTQ Finances Survey found that members of the LGBTQ community tend to prioritize travel, eating out and entertainment more than the general population.
Specifically, here's how many said it was important for them to have money to spend in those areas:
Why LGBTQ People Prioritize Travel, Dining Out and Entertainment
One major reason for the trend is that being part of the LGBTQ community can preclude them from having a family, at least biologically, says Emily Starbuck Gerson, freelance writer and founder of ProfilesinPride.com.
"Those who want to have children must adopt or pay for pricey fertility services," she says. "Since starting a family is much more difficult and expensive for LGBTQ people, having children is less common than in the general population. With no kids, adults have a lot more time and discretionary income to spend money on things like travel, dining out, and socializing with friends."
Gerson says it's also essential for LGBTQ people to find community. While the U.S. has made strides in affording people in same-sex relationships the same rights as straight couples, members of the LGBTQ community still face many challenges.
"Last September, my partner and I traveled for a long weekend to a women's LGBTQ event called Plezzure Island, because even though we live in a major city, it doesn't have a strong community for LGBTQ women," Gerson says. "We got to just feel like normal people on vacation."
Tips for Saving Money on Discretionary Spending
There's no right or wrong answer for how you should spend your hard-earned money. But it's always a good idea to find ways to spend wisely and save money along the way.
Here are five tips that can help you do all the travel, dining out and entertainment you want—without breaking the bank.
1. Create a Budget
A budget is the most basic money management tool, but it can be powerful if done right. There are many approaches to budgeting, so it's important to try different methods until you find the one that works best for you.
Regardless of how you choose to budget, the important thing is that you plan how you're going to spend your money based on your financial goals and priorities. If eating out is more important to you than clothing, for instance, you can allocate your budget accordingly.
This process is especially helpful if you wish you could spend more on certain categories because it allows you to find other areas where you can cut back to make room for your priorities.
Don't stop there, though. As you go throughout the month, keep track of where your money is going, so you can hold yourself accountable. If you get too excited and spend more than you earn, you could end up in debt. (Read more here about how to make a budget.)
2. Look for Travel Deals
And if you want to travel with go on a tour, cruise or trip with like-minded people, there are deals for those types of vacations as well.
"There are travel companies like Olivia, Atlantis, and Vacaya that specifically cater to the LGBTQ community," says Gerson, "If you sign up for their email lists, you will be notified when they offer specials and discounts."
3. Use Credit Card Rewards
According to the LGBTQ Finances Survey, 82% of LGBTQ people own at least one credit card, and more than half have two or more.
Many major credit cards have cash-back or travel rewards programs, and using your credit card responsibly can net you hundreds of dollars in rewards every year.
As a result, it's important to make sure that you get the right credit card for your spending habits and preferences. Several credit cards offer bonus rewards on travel, dining and entertainment purchases, making it easy to rack up points, miles or cash back.
Also, some credit cards offer big sign-up bonuses to new cardholders. As an example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4000 in the first three months—that's worth $750 toward travel if you book through Chase.
And if you prefer entertainment and dining out over travel, you can use cash-back and other rewards to get money in your bank account or gift cards to use for those purchases.
4. Take Advantage of Happy Hour or Split a Meal With a Friend
It's common for restaurants and bars to feature a happy hour—some even on a daily basis—where you can get discounted food and drinks. Planning your night out with friends around happy hour can ensure that you have just as much fun and leave with a heftier wallet.
If you want to save even more, consider sharing a plate or a pitcher with a friend.
"Most of the time when I eat out, I can only finish half of my plate," says Gerson. "Save money by ordering an appetizer as your meal or splitting an entree with someone." Read more tips for kicking bad spending habits here.
5. Keep Your Eye Out for Free or Discounted Entertainment
"Some major cities have LGBTQ social groups that offer free or affordable activities like running groups, rugby teams, monthly social meetups," says Gerson. "See if your city has any LGBTQ groups like this that offer affordable social gatherings."
Websites like Meetup.com make this search a little easier.
Gerson also recommends using Groupon and similar apps to find discounted tickets to concerts and events. And if your favorite entertainment spot is the movie theater, check out subscription services like MoviePass and Sinemia to get discounted movie tickets in exchange for a monthly or annual membership.
As you consider each of these tips, find a healthy balance between your spending in the present and saving for the future. That way you can enjoy the things you love now and far into the future.