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Queer Money

Sep 7, 2017

The Deets of MassMutual’s LGBTQ Financial Security Study Between February 28 and March 14, 2017, MassMutual along with Greenwald & Associates, conducted an online survey of middle-income Americans over-weighted with LGBTQ people to “raise awareness of the threats and obstacles to middle-class workers’ [especially LGBTQ workers’] financial security.” LGBTQ people don’t feel secure and it may be our fault Nearly half of those in the survey described themselves as not too or not at all financially secure. This data doesn’t align with the perception that we’re all fabulous. Rather than being fabulous, we may just be fabulously broke. Based on MassMutual’s LGBTQ Financial Security Study, 80% of us say high debt levels or not having enough money make it hard to manage household money. What are we doing about it? We’re not helping ourselves, apparently. More than half of respondents said that spending for today is more important than saving for tomorrow. The lack of saving for tomorrow is reflected in the response that 70% of us, relative to 63% of the general population, attest to being behind in our retirement savings. There could be many reasons for this. The first possible reason is that many of us may still be using our spending to make up for feelings of inadequacy from when we were younger. Another possibility may be a lingering carpe diem philosophy adopted by many in our community during the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis. Another possible reason could be that a larger percentage of the LGBTQ community believes someone or something else will take care of them later in life. We’re more concerned about money than marriage Ironically, even though marriage equality and its effects have received much of the media and public’s attention over the last two years, only 28% of the queer people surveyed are concerned about marriage and love. However, 60% of us are worried about our household finances that, as we said above, are hard to manage because of high debt levels and no having enough money. While many of us may be more concerned about living for today than preparing for tomorrow, this is having an adverse-effect on our health and well-being. Sixty-five percent of respondents said that financial concerns affect their health and stress-levels. Financial stress may be, in part, why the Center for Disease Control says that gay men, bisexual men, and LGBTQ youth have a greater propensity to suffer from major depression, bipolar disorder and anxiety disorder than our straight counterparts. Likewise, as The Advocate announced in 2015, “gay men have a drinking problem” because the CDC reported that “[queer] people are more likely to use alcohol and drugs, have higher rates of substance abuse, and are more liable to continue drinking into later life.” There is help Surprisingly to us because we work with several financial services firms, 59% of MassMutual’s LGBTQ Financial Security Study respondents don’t feel financial services companies want to help “people like them.” Many firms, including MassMutual's LGBTQ Financial Security Study and its previously reported Lasting Legacy Survey, are trying to connect and help our community. Unfortunately, the messages aren’t being heard or understood. Because of the unheard or unclear outreach from financial services companies, 53% of the LGBTQ people who participated in this survey are unsure where to go for financial help and guidance.