- Follow us on Next The personal finance icon will open up about her experience as a gay woman breaking into the misogynistic finance industry in the ’80s – and answering your burning financial questions about savings, investing, crypto and more.
The finance industry does not have a good reputation for being diverse or inclusive. Historically, it was the province of wealthy white men, and was never known as a place for LGBTQ+ people to freely express their identity.
This was also the case in the field of personal finance, where the people giving financial advice were usually white, men and straight for the life of the industry.
But this is changing.
Acceptance and awareness of the LGBTQ+ community is at the heart of Pride Month every June, but this celebration cannot hide that there is still work to be done in the personal finance space. More than 60% of LGBTQ+ people say they’ve faced financial challenges because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, according to a 2018 study by Experian.
The growth of social media has made finding people who are financial educators and members of the LGBTQ+ community easier, though, and we spoke to five of them as part of our initiatives to celebrate Pride Month.
These experts work to make personal finance more inclusive and reflective of what the world really looks like. Through their growing online communities, they are educating their audience about saving, investing, and increasing wealth – and raising awareness of the systemic inequalities that the LGBTQ+ community has yet to overcome.
Bring your social feeds to life, and follow them.
Suss Orman, host of the “Women & Money” podcast and contributor to NextAdvisor, is one of the most powerful and influential voices in finance. She has written 10 consecutive New York Times bestsellers about personal finance, and has won two Emmy Awards and eight Gracie Awards during her career.
She also happens to be gay, but she doesn’t tailor her financial advice to gay audiences. Whether you’re gay or not, you think, the mechanics of personal finance are the same.
“I never wanted to be a lesbian money lady. I wanted to be a money lady who was also a lesbian,” Orman told NextAdvisor. “big difference.” Orman gained her foothold in finance after becoming one of the first stockbrokers in the Auckland office of wealth manager Merrill Lynch—a dramatic turnaround for both Orman, who was previously a waitress at a local bakery.
And she went on to found her own consulting firm, Suss Orman Financial Group. Her work as a financial advisor gained a large following with The Suze Orman Show, which ran on CNBC from 2002 to 2015. Orman, now 70, now lives on a private island in the Bahamas with her wife and partner of two decades. Kathleen “Kathleen” Travis, but hasn’t quite slowed down yet.
In her next conversation with NextAdvisor on June 24, Orman will open up about her relentless struggle to preserve her identity as a gay woman while achieving unprecedented success in an industry unknown for diversity or inclusion.
Gay couples on fire
G and J are the couple – who prefer to remain anonymous – behind Gay Husbands on FIRE, an acronym that stands for “financial independence, retire early”.
Both are in their early thirties, live in New York City, and plan a life of financial independence by 2031. C is a PR consultant originally from Colorado and J is a lawyer originally from Colombia. They met in Philadelphia in 2013 and married in 2017. Since the marriage, they have pooled all their finances and paid off $100,000 in student loans.
They strive to save at least 50% of their income each month and now have a combined net worth of over $600,000. They document their FIRE journey on Instagram to share updates, tips about personal finance, and insights into their financial goals, hopes, and concerns.
Carmen Perez is the creator of Make Real Cents, a personal finance platform dedicated to helping people achieve financial independence and avoid the financial mistakes they made early on.
Prior to 2016, Carmen had terrible credit, no money saved and was sued for student loan default. This was the year she decided to turn things around and begin her journey towards getting rid of debt. I’ve paid off nearly $57,000 of debt in nearly three years. While she was paying off her debts, Carmen and now wife Elise were able to pay cash for their 120-person wedding in New York City in 2018.
After getting out of debt, paying for the wedding, and buying a house, Carmen started saving as much as possible, with a plan to quit her job in finance and learn how to code; She is now working in technology. She is currently a member of Business Insider’s Money Council.
Daniela Flores is a non-binary, non-binary financial expert and founder of iliketodabble.com, a side business and money resource website. After paying off $40,000 in debt with their wives, they fell in love with the idea of a side business – or “rigging” as they call it in their online community – and the idea that they could tap their creative energy to pursue financial freedom.
According to Flores, society makes LGBTQ+ members feel that they don’t have many options for building wealth. Their job is to change that.
“When you grow up in a society built for heterosexual people and it doesn’t fit in that mold, you get left behind. In the LGBTQ+ community, you don’t see many people chasing financial freedom, nor are many of them really thriving,” Flores says.
Located in the Pacific Northwest, Daniela is married to her wife, Ally. They have two dogs and five cats.
Lexa Van Damme
Lexa VanDamme started Budgeting Avocado Toast in June of 2020 while facing unemployment shortly after graduating with a master’s degree. She started as a blogger, but moved to TikTok in September of 2020 when she started sharing her journey of paying off $20,000 in credit card debt in a year, and how she fixed her relationship with money. She now shares all of her tips and resources for free via Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok.
VanDamme says The Avocado Toast Budget is a non-judgmental online community for millennials to learn how to increase their confidence with money in a way that makes sense for them and their lives. She has two important beliefs that influence her content: “Money is political” and “Religion is morally neutral.”
“I carry these two beliefs throughout my content, talking about how oppressive regimes affect personal finance, what it’s like to navigate money as a cranky and neurotic person, and be transparent about massive student loan debt,” VanDamme says.