Saving Same Sex, Different Savings

All women face obstacles to achieving economic equality, but the country’s LGTBQ+ community deals with even more layers of bias and a lack of legal protections when it comes to building wealth and savings.

By Daniella Flores Illustration: Doris Liou
PUBLISHED 06/05/2024 | 5 MINUTES

There’s much discourse around the gender pay gap, but far less about the LGBTQ+ pay and savings gap. It’s vital that when we talk about one, we talk about the other, too.

For starters, LGBTQ+ women earn 87 cents for every $1 a typical worker earns, while gender-fluid folks earn 70 cents and trans women earn only 60 cents, according to the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

When women and the LGBTQ+ community don’t have economic equality at work, it can create a trickle-down effect and show in other aspects of their lives. For instance, on average, female same-sex couples over 65 are 10% less likely than different-sex married couples to have any income from retirement plans or accounts, according to a study conducted by The Williams Institute.

The LGTBQ+ community also deals with various biases, discrimination and a lack of legal and health care protections that can further impact their ability to save and build wealth.

The good news? There are still ways queer couples can thrive in their financial lives. Here is how to get started:

1. Evaluate Your Relationship With Money

Nadia Ibrahim-Taney, a member of the LGBTQ+ community, a business and career coach, and the founder of Beyond Discovery Coaching, says it’s important to evaluate your relationship with money.

“Saving money is as simple as spending less than you earn, but so many of us find this challenging,” Ibrahim-Taney says. Why? It might have to do with how you were raised, how money was (or wasn’t) talked about in your household or what you were (and weren’t) taught about finances.

For Ibrahim-Taney, growing up in a heteronormative home with conservative gender role expectations didn’t help. “There weren’t good examples of how to manage money and make money work for me, and virtually no emphasis on the value of having multiple sources of income,” she says. “As I got older, grew in my career and started a business, I was forced to confront my relationship with money.”

Similarly, Samantha Hernandez, a lesbian money coach and founder of The Money Institute, says that you need to “understand your money first—including how, why, when and where you spend it” in order to grow and establish healthy financial habits.

To get in touch with your relationship with money and figure out how to move forward, start by writing down your earliest memories involving money and how they make you feel. Then think about how you use money in your everyday life now—you may notice patterns that have formed over the years, and this exercise can help you confront them.

2. Seek Out Ways to Increase Your Income, Not Just How to Cut Back

Too often, money advice for women focuses on cutting costs and how to do less with more, rather than empowering them to increase their income streams or invest to grow wealth. Recognizing this and seeking out different wealth-building methods can help queer couples.

For example, Ibrahim-Taney started a side hustle to contribute more to her Roth IRA. “I wanted to make $6,000 a year, as this is the limit on yearly contributions,” she says. “For me, that goal represents financial independence and gives me the option to retire early from my full-time job if I choose to.”

3. Talk About Money With Your Partner

Once you have a solid grasp of your own finances, you can more comfortably discuss money with your partner, Hernandez advises. “Just remember to be kind. There is so much shame around money, which can lead to negative emotions during conversations,” she adds.

Money coach Shenice Brown, aka MissQueerFi, says she and her partner are “obsessed” with talking about money together. “We sit down and adjust our budgets at least once a quarter and discuss our finances frequently,” she says.

They also set shared financial goals, such as saving a minimum of $3,000 per month for retirement, owning vacation rental properties and taking care of their family.

You and your partner can start with something as simple as having a “money date” once a quarter to touch base. And remember, there is no official “rulebook” for this, so do what feels comfortable for you.

Millie content is licensed from Dotdash Meredith, publisher of Millie, Real Simple, InStyle, Investopedia, The Balance and more.

Daniella Flores is a nonbinary and queer Latine software engineer, sidepreneur and founder of iliketodabble.com, a money, career and side hustle platform for LGBTQ+ folks. They’ve been featured in Time, Investopedia, MSN, CNBC, Business Insider and more.

logo

Sign up for our free, weekly newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

Purrrrty
great financial
advice delivered
right to your
inbox!