If you are a member of the LGBTQ community, are you a spender or a saver when it comes to money? Most members of America’s LGBTQ community say they are more inclined to save money than to spend it. But a closer look at their habits suggests the opposite may be true, according to a new Experian survey on LGBTQ financial planning.
Asked to characterize their habits on a zero to 10 scale, with zero denoting “spender” and 10 denoting “saver,” more than half,, 52 percent, of LGBTQ respondents placed themselves in the six-to-10 “saver” range. But responses to more detailed follow-up questions gave a decidedly different impression:
More than two-fifths, or 44 percent, of LGBTQ respondents said they struggle to maintain adequate savings versus 38 percent of the general population.
Just over one-third, 34 percent, said they have bad spending habits that they’d like to improve or change versus 28 percent of the general population. LGBTQ respondents estimated they devote 16 percent of monthly income to discretionary spending, but just 11 percent to saving or investment.
In conjunction with Pride Month 2018, Experian recently surveyed 500 individuals who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans or queer to learn more about their financial behaviors and attitudes. The Experian survey also included 500 non-LGBTQ Americans. Some interesting differences between the survey respondents emerged, but even more striking differences were found within different age groups in the LGBTQ population; particularly, the challenges and concerns of 25-to-34 year-olds in contrast to their older counterparts.
The idea for the survey was sparked by a conversation with our friends the Debt Free Guys, about the dearth of data on the financial views and challenges specific to members of the LGBTQ community.
“We’re happy and proud of the LGBTQ community’s progress over the past 15 years…but we aren’t done yet,” the Debt Free Guys write. “We’ve got a lot to take pride in today. Let’s be able to have pride in our money.”
Much of this concern rests with the youngest segment of the LGBTQ community included in the survey, individuals age 25 to 34:
- 53 percent of respondents in that age group reported struggling to maintain savings.
- 49 percent disagreed with the statement “I am in control of my finances” versus a range of 56 percent to 58 percent for those aged 35-64 and 75 percent for those 65 and up.
- 49 percent of the 25-to-34-year-olds reported having bad spending habits—a condition that diminishes with remarkable consistency among members of successively older LGBTQ age segments.
“Everyone knows the stereotype of ‘keeping up with the Joneses,’” says David Rae, a Los Angeles-based financial planner with a practice focused on the LGBTQ community. ”Well, there are gay Joneses’ too. [For some] having the latest iPhone or iWatch or car or whatever can begin to feel like a necessity.”
In a ranking of financial concerns among LGBTQ respondents, the top entry, saving for retirement, was cited by 29 percent of respondents. Paying off debt ranked second, listed by 20 percent of respondents. Saving for retirement is the biggest financial concern for LGBTQ members, but paying off debt is just as big a concern for those 25-34.
The LGBTQ community “definitely faces some challenges in retirement,” Rae says. “Many don’t have children who can help care for them as they get older. Some are also disconnected from their families and cannot count on support from siblings or other relatives.”
When asked about the types of goods and activities for which they most wish to set money aside, members of the LGBTQ community find it more important than their non-LGBTQ counterparts to set aside money for entertainment.
“It boils down to priorities,” Rae says. “If you look online at financial planning sites, one of the first things they talk about is saving for kids’ college education. Since many [in the LGBTQ community] don’t have children, they’ve got way more money to spend on housing or a car or travel.”
In responses consistent with their reported anxiety over spending habits, LGBTQ respondents in the 25-to-34 and 35-to-44 age rated discretionary spending more important than their older counterparts in a wide variety of categories, including:
- Personal Hygiene
- Health and Fitness
- Dining Out
- Home Décor
- Charitable Giving
- Drinking and Partying
- Sporting Events
- Other Entertainment
- The one exception to this is travel, which LGBTQ respondents over 65 prioritized more than any other other age groups. Not surprising since they’re more likely to be retired.
Asked about activities on which they feel they overspend: 20 percent of respondents in both the non-LGBTQ and LGBTQ populations cited travel, but a significantly larger portion of gay men, 26 percent, reported doing so.
LGBTQ respondents in the 25-to-34-year-old age group reported overspending at significantly higher rates than older counterparts in the areas of personal hygiene, 26 percent, clothing 38 percent and dining out, 53 percent.
Dining out was named as a significant source of overspending for nearly half , 46 percent, all LGBTQ respondents.
Survey Methodology: The data points referenced in this report come from a study commissioned by ConsumerInfo.com, Inc., an Experian company, conducted as an online survey of n=500 adults nationwide who identify as LGBTQ and n=500 general population. Interviewing took place from May 22-26, 2018.