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It's been three years since gay marriage was legalized, how are same-sex couples faring financially?

More than one comedian has made the joke – which some say is offensive to everyone, regardless of sexual orientation – that same-sex marriage means gay people can now be as miserable as straight people. Amazon even sells a T-shirt saying as much.

But a study shows that’s not true – in love or money.

Wells Fargo researched this topic, and for a very greedy reason. “It’s important for us to really get to know and understand our customers,” says John Lake, whose title at Wells Fargo is “LGBT Segment leader.”

The good news for Wells Fargo: “More than half surveyed (67 percent) say marriage made their relationship better, and 62 percent believe it will improve their financial future.”

I think for us, like most couples, the topic of money is not a sexy topic or an enduring topic – especially when you hold on to or have some inhibitions or fears – or you‘re actually hiding something – you don’t want to talk about that, and in that “puppy love” phase of your relationship, right.

So we were together, I think it was almost 18 months, before we became clear and honest with each other about our money situation. Although we were both in financial services helping other people with their money we were complete messes with our own money, and we were scared to tell each other. I think we both assumed “oh well the other one must be better than me,” but we didn’t really didn’t want to tell each other.

But once we came out about our money to each other then we started to be able to set goals, figure out what we wanted, start making progress, and make huge leaps forward in our financial situation – which in turn brought us closer together as a couple.

So many LGBT people grew up in times and places where it wasn’t OK to be gay. And even though the sort of micro-digs at our sexual orientation or gender identity accumulate over the years. And by the time we’re adults we sort of have this conception that we’re not good enough or earn enough money or don’t necessarily deserve financial security. Um or that it’s our outward displays of wealth that validate us about who we are on the inside.

And so we have a lot of challenges in our community.

In 2016, when marriage equality passed and individuals began thinking about how their relationships affect their finances – it did encourage more individuals to think about that. But at the state level there is still a significant number of laws that are holding our community back or allow us to, in some ways, hold onto some either negative or limiting beliefs. And those kinds of laws, we still are working on diligently to try to get those out of the way so we can move forward financially.

Marrying bank accounts

If nothing else, same-sex spouses will benefit just like their opposite-sex peers. They’ll combine their bank accounts. Then use the better credit score of the two to land a good mortgage rate. This generally will save on expenses because they’re now a team.

In fact, they may do even better financially. Even though 1 in 5 wants children, most of those (76 percent) “say they will wait to have children until they are financially prepared to do so.”

Interestingly, many same-sex couples say they’re far from “financially prepared” for marriage….

Though most are excited about their financial future, 31 percent admit that sharing money with a spouse is honestly, scary. … Same-sex couples also expressed a need to learn more about healthcare decision-making rights (54 percent), insurance and healthcare coverage (53 percent) and/or filing joint taxes (54 percent).

“The concerns facing same-sex couples related to merging finances is not at all uncommon,” Lake says. “LGBT Americans recognize that access to marriage provides certain financial benefits and obligations, still, there is some anxiety around specific issues. This signals a real need, and desire, for more education.”

Thankfully, the rules for smart saving and spending in a marriage are the same for all couples. I’ve always said…

It doesn’t matter what your sexual orientation is, what your race is, what your religion is, or what your height and weight are. Learning how to be financially responsible in a marriage is all about following some simple, if not always obvious, rules.

What are those rules? Debt.com has spelled them out in two special sections: Finance for Couples and Money Management for Families. Check them out.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and/or policies of Debt.com.

About the Author

Howard Dvorkin, CPA

Howard Dvorkin, CPA

I’m a certified public accountant who has authored two books on getting out of debt, Credit Hell and Power Up, and I am one of the personal finance experts for Debt.com. I have focused my professional endeavors in the consumer finance, technology, media and real estate industries creating not only Debt.com, but also Financial Apps and Start Fresh Today, among others. My personal finance advice has been included in countless articles, and has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Forbes and Entrepreneur as well as virtually every national and local newspaper in the country. Everyone should have a reason for living that’s bigger than themselves, and besides my family, mine is this: Teaching Americans how to live happily within their means. To me, money is not the root of all evil. Poor money management is. Money cannot buy happiness, but going into debt always buys misery. That’s why I launched Debt.com. I’m glad you’re here.

Published by Debt.com, LLC