Categories
Money Stories

Money Stories: Adam Haviar

Adam is part of VacuumLabs, Daylight’s technology partner. He’s previously worked with O2, one of the largest telecommunication providers, where he worked with the board of directors on customer experience projects. Prior to this, he worked at numerous tech startups and launched two mentoring programs; one to support a local student community and other to develop future leaders across various industries. He is very passionate about topics like coaching and mentoring and sports of virtually any kind!

When was the first time you thought about money?

The first time I thought of money was when I was around 2-3 years old and my mum came from an expo in Italy and brought me back this colorful children wallet from “United Colors of Benetton”. I did not understand the concept of money very much but I knew that this is a wallet and money should be inside. Therefore, my only concern was to have something to fill in my new wallet and I succeeded with some first coins from my father. 

What was your “aha” moment with money?

When I was 5 years old my brother and I admired all the combat fighters in all action movies available, so naturally one day my brother decided to build a trap in our backyard. He dug a hole and covered it by branches and leaves to catch and intruder that would step on our backyard. I was too little to operate a shovel and I could not follow my older brother to build a trap on my own.

Having some pocket money saved up from grandma and occasionally shopping cart coin that has been forgotten in my lap I bought the trap that my brother build off him. When my father came home, he was not too happy about the hole in the backyard and I (the new owner of the property) became responsible for shoveling the grave back to cover the hole. The worst purchase I ever made. So far. 

What do you do outside of work?

I run a small non-profit organization that focuses on mentoring final year university students to help them facilitate the turbulent period of finishing their studies and taking a leap into a work environment. Playing basketball was always my great passion that filled most of my time while growing up, despite not being so frequent nowadays I still like to get out there and play with a fun group of people.

I also collect LP records, which is something that has been passionate about since I was 15 years old. Lastly, I enjoy spending my time (and money, haha) traveling, getting to know new cultures, habits, and cuisines across the globe. 

Favorite LGBT+ business?

I’m a big fan of what StartOut does, who are an LGBTQ non-profit to promote LGBTQ equality and combat discrimination in the business world.

Categories
The Issues

Queer Families: the Joys, the Difficulties, the Alternatives

Families are a complicated issue for LGBT+ people. Only in the last decade or so has it even become something possible for us, although in some parts of the world (and even the US, as I’ll get into later) it’s still not possible. But with increasing social acceptance and legislative changes it’s something more and more LGBT+ people are deciding to explore.

63% of LGBT+ millennials are considering expanding their families either by becoming parents for the first time or by having more children and the gap between LGBT+ people and non-LGBT+ people is narrower then ever before: 48% of LGBT+ millennials are actively planning to grow their families, compared to 55% of non-LGBT+ millennials.

Looking forwards, a quite-staggering 33% of Gen Z identify as LGBT+. There are about to be a whole lot more queer parents.

So it’s clear that this is something on a lot of people’s minds, but there are a lot of challenges still to go. For one thing it’s often not as simple as it is for non-LGBT+ people to start a family. Common routes used by LGBT+ people include adoption, surrogacy, and IVF but these are all expensive, time consuming and emotionally draining activities that not everyone has the strength and resources to go through.

Building a family

We’ve talked previously about surrogacy and the different ways to fund it, and we’re going to explore the practicalities of the other methods of building a family in the second part of this article series.

Something that’s always worth highlighting is that there are a tonne of benefits to having LGBT+ parents. Researchers found that children raised by same-sex couples had higher test scores in elementary and secondary school and were about 7 percent more likely to graduate from high school than children raised by different-sex couples. Now, take this with a grain of salt; “Same-sex couples often have to use expensive fertility treatments to have a child, meaning they are very motivated to become parents and tend to have a high level of wealth. This is likely to be a key reason their children perform well in school, the economists found.”

But even beyond this, it would probably be fair to say that having parents that have jumped through multiple hoops to have a child is going to appreciate and love that child a lot. Even being a victim of discrimination and misunderstanding by the world at large can arm you with the tools to teach others love and acceptance.

Beyond tradition

When I look to my own future, I don’t know what I see. I’m lucky to have my parents and family still very much in my life, and a wonderful chosen family as an extension of that, but I’ve never been sure about children. It’s so hard to imagine raising a child in a world that seems to get harder and harder to thrive in each day. As a trans woman who didn’t have access to fertility treatments, I’m pretty much left with the option to adopt, which is fine by me and probably what I’d do anyway. Maybe one day I’ll adopt an LGBT+ teenager in need of some love and support.

Traditional families and children are not something that everyone wants, or should feel pressured to have. The idea of the chosen family is a beautiful concept that has existed in LGBT+ culture for decades and still very much exists to this day. Ultimately, we all deserve to feel loved and cared for and chosen families are just as important in building a life that is rewarding.

 

Categories
Money Stories

Money Stories: Eric Smith (Otterwize)

Money Stories is a new series designed to start the conversation about how being LGBT+ has affected our financial lives and hopefully help people feel inspired to talk more openly about money! Share your stories with me at billie@joindaylight.com.

– Billie

Eric has a wide range of experience in capital markets, private equity, hedge funds, and financial technology. His most recent position was at PwC, where he was Capital Markets & Investment Services Lead for the firm’s FinTech platform, DeNovo, focusing on fintech wealth management and capital market solutions. Before PwC, Eric was Director of Data Analytics at a NYC-based fintech start-up, developing data and analytics in the alternative-finance space. He also has a strong background in private equity, having served as Investment Manager-Private Equity for UBP (Union Bancaire Privée) in New York and London, and co-founding the private equity fund of funds investment group.

Eric is a forward-thinking writer in the financial services and fintech innovation space, and has contributed to the development of new fintech products. He also consults with fintech start-ups and financial services companies in topics from technology to user experience. Eric graduated from Columbia University earning a bachelor’s degree with distinction. He writes at Otterwize.

When was the first time you thought about money?

There are two main tiers to my early concerns about money. During my formative years, money served to acquire wants. If it wasn’t one’s birthday or a holiday in my family, then we had to work for the things that we wanted. For instance, I was never a big gamer relative to my friends, but if I wanted something like a Nintendo game (which went for $20 and seemed exorbitant at the time), I had to earn it—yardwork, educational workbooks, or a whole multitude of tasks (at sub-minimum wage rates). I think that taught me a very important lesson about the exchange of labor for goods. Also, after hours of working under the blazing Midwestern summer sun, you begin to question how badly you really wanted something. (Sorta like the apps that stop online ordering and make you wait to ensure that you really want something/prevent impulse purchases.) 

In college, I had a tight budget, so it was really about prioritizing. With food, clubs, bars, and dinner dates, things really add up if you want to be social in New York. (I was fortunate to have a parent pay for my college, but this didn’t mean I could splurge like many of my classmates on the non-essentials or order in/dine out every night.) I always erred on the frugal side, and if I knew that a night out was going to be at a posh bar that required exorbitantly-priced bottle service just to get in or something else extravagant, I wasn’t ashamed to say no/not go. I love a basic wardrobe, take care of my belongings, and don’t follow the most recent trends (as opposed to some in my generation fawning over high-end catalogues—yes, we ordered through the mail, I’m that old). It turns out that I have more of a stereotypical Gen Z mentality, prioritizing things differently than the elderly millennial that I actually am.

What was your “aha” moment with money?

I was raised by divorced parents: one super frugal and the other with the mantra that “you can’t take it with you.” I was always a big saver, but I think in college I had a few “aha” moments.

First, watching my peers get into debt for frivolous things always shocked me, particularly following the latest trends, whether it was going to Sushi Samba (any Sex in the City fan knows this place) or buying a Red Monkey watch, which quickly went out of style.

A second “aha” moment for me was coming home from clubs like Roxy alone late at night and thinking “wow, I would have had a better time in bed reading for free.”

The third was when I finally had to pay rent and do taxes. So many people want to keep up with the Joneses, but really the only magic is to live within your means, invest or pay off debt with the rest, and enjoy your life. There are so many pleasures that are free. Getting into unnecessary debt (like going out every single night or having a McMansion home that you can’t afford) is like going out in the rain without an umbrella and complaining that you got wet.

How has being LGBT+ impacted your relationship with money?

I think that in the LGBT+ community, wealth can make one feel more desirable, particularly as the currency of youth fades. I also think that the need (and the pressure) to look and feel “fabulous” can tug at the purse strings. There is something in the community about people feeling devalued or “lesser than,” and sometimes money is the way to feel accomplished or to let a full bank account fill an emotional hole. Also, as in any social group, the more you say no, the more likely you’re one day no longer going to be invited. (However, when it comes to peer pressure, I took a guy to prom my junior year of high school in a very conservative city, so I’m not really one to let my sexuality influence choices, including financial ones.)

I feel as though I have encountered some generalized discrimination in the workplace: because I “don’t have a family to support,” then somehow I “don’t deserve the same salary” . . . or a superior just didn’t like me solely on the basis of one of the communities to which I belong. Anyway, I’m still here and fighting, and the world is quickly shifting to “who cares.” 

In building a career, which in turn affected my finances and my relationship with money, I was fortunate to have various networks promoting and supporting LGBT+ professional interests. I aligned myself with many great allies—while working in alternative assets as well as at one of the Big Four (PwC)—who helped mentor me through my career. For instance, PwC hosts and participates in a group called “Out in Finance,” a conglomerate of the big banks and other financial/consulting firms that promote and support their LGBT+ employees and alumni through events and workshops. The LGBT+ community is getting there, but we haven’t yet arrived. 

What are your financial goals for the future?

This is a tough one. I don’t want to own real estate in New York City as it doesn’t make sense to me, given that I could just cross the river or live upstate (yes, Westchester to me is upstate). Plus, there has been an ongoing exodus from New York City as people age, get married, have children, or just realize that the cost/benefits of remaining here do not make financial sense, and this has been accelerated by the pandemic.

I don’t want children (I think I do, and then I see them and I’m like, hard pass). I would love to create a wealth plan with a partner so that we can afford a stable home, not have costs dictate our ability to socialize with friends (restaurants, theatre, etc.), and most definitely travel without worrying about a budget (while keeping one anyway). I also just want to be financially independent and secure, given the extending life expectancies, so that I can retire well (and have enough put aside for any health emergency or other unexpected expenses).

Favorite LGBT+ business (online or IRL)?

I believe that pink dollars have an importance and should be placed with intention. With soo many brick-and-mortar businesses closing (even pre-pandemic), I believe Julius’ Bar may top my list. It started a revolt against the liquor laws in New York City that expressly prohibited serving liquor to the LGBT+ community. The Mattachine Society helped pave the way for this reform.

I would also have to give praise to Left Bank Books and Three Lives & Company for managing to stay alive through the changing literary world where even megastores like Borders failed, and Barnes & Nobles has closed many stores.

In the online world, I would have to go with Scruff (these days, it’s a way to socially engage when IRL interactions during the pandemic are restricted) and the clothing and apparel company Swish Embassy, just because I like their cattiness. 

NB: Of course, there are also great advocacy groups and organizations like SAGE.

Categories
The Issues

How Identity Documents Can Cause Discrimination and Credit Difficulties

Identity documents can cause a myriad of problems for trans and gender non-conforming individuals trying to access financial services. 

Requirements that identity documents must be obtained and referenced as part of the credit application process can result in discrimination against people based on gender identity or expression. Only an estimated 67 percent of transgender people have been able to update at least one identity document and one-third have no identity documentation consistent with their gender identity. (Source)

Why is this the case?

In the US, the lengthy and expensive undertaking of getting your name and gender marker updated on your IDs (which varies from state to state) can often cause trans people people to avoid or put off the process. Even after getting your updated documents, that’s not the end; you’ve then got to update all of your financial accounts, which can vary from faxing the court order (seriously, who faxes anymore?) to appearing in person at your bank or credit union. 


A typical name and gender marker updating process. Source: transequality.org

Similarly, if you’re gender non-conforming, it can be an emotional or unpleasant experience dealing with financial advisors who might not know any better than to gender you on the basis of your identity documents. 

The process of updating documents and accounts also isn’t wholesale, meaning you can end up with a partial or missing credit history, making you vulnerable to rejection for financial services in addition to discrimination.

Photo: The Gender Spectrum Collection

It can often feel like gambling; while a lot of banks might pay lip service to the LGBT community during pride month, how many of them are actually training their staff to account for people in our community? If it’s down to the individual employee to decide if you’re approved or rejected, how can you know that you’ll receive the same experience from employee to employee? 

A banking experience built for your needs 

At Daylight, all of our services are designed for the specific needs of the LGBT+ community. We understand your unique needs, so you can rest easy knowing that you’re being given the best advice and financial options available. 

Categories
Money Stories

Money Stories: A Purple Life

Money Stories is a new series designed to start the conversation about how being LGBT+ has affected our financial lives and hopefully help people feel inspired to talk more openly about money! Share your stories with me at billie@joindaylight.com.

– Billie

“Purple” is a black woman who works in marketing and is striving to quit her job this fall and retire at the age of 30. She catalogs her journey to and through early retirement on her blog APurpleLife.com.

When was the first time you thought about money?

I first thought about money when I was 8 and I went to collect the money I was promised by my Mom after doing my chores. I was told I would receive $1 per chore, but instead was given $0.70 and asked my Mom what happened. And that’s when I learned about taxes and FICA payments 🙂 .

What was your “aha” moment with money?

My “aha” moment happened after I finally got my dream job. It had everything I thought I needed in a career to make it fulfilling enough that I would want to do it every weekday until traditional retirement age: autonomy, creativity and flexibility. I got that job and…still didn’t want to fight my way onto a NYC subway car every Monday morning so I decided I needed a new plan. Luckily my partner had mentioned using money to buy freedom far earlier than traditional retirement age. Two years after hearing about that I finally listened.

How has being LGBT+ impacted your relationship with money?

I’m not sure being LGBT+ specifically has impacted my relationship with money. I’m a black woman and so far think that has had a larger impact simply because those are more outward features of myself that you can see just by looking at me.

People of color and women are discriminated against for jobs, promotions and at times home loans simply because of this information, which you see on a resume or application form. I hadn’t considered how my sexuality could play into that, but I am out with my colleagues and since it only just became illegal in all 50 states to fire someone for their sexuality that could have had a large impact on my financial future.

What are your financial goals for the future?

I’m planning to save most of my next few paychecks and then I’m retiring this fall. 

Favorite LGBT+ business (online or IRL)?

Babeland…for obvious reasons 😉 .

Categories
Money Stories

Money Stories: Matej Ftacnik

Matej co-founded a fintech/challenger banking- focused engineering firm, which grew to 250 employees in under 5 years. His firm helped expand challenger banks in Europe (Twisto), Asia (Standard Chartered Virtual Bank in Hong Kong) and the US (Sablecard). 

He’s a Forbes 30-Under-30 and EY’s Tech Entrepreneur of the Year for 2019.


What steps led you to Daylight?

I’ve been around fintech products and challenger banks within the last business I helped to build, Vacuumlabs. During that time I realized that new technologies enable for the creation of cheaper and more efficient banking solutions that can serve a very specific purpose. This insight combined with my long term passion for supporting the LGBT+ community made me realize that there is a pretty unique opportunity to build a new service that can serve the specific needs of the LGBT+ community.

When was the first time you thought about money?

Growing up in the States as the son of Central European immigrants, I’ve naturally thought of money and its huge impact on the way people live. Being able to compare the lifestyles of people in different parts of the world gave me an appreciation for access to work and the right financial tools. 

What was your “aha” moment with money?

Since we’re not taught properly how to behave around money in school, there have been several aha moments with money during my life.

Starting with just basic saving habits, to understanding where and how to invest money smartly, to appreciating the ability to access financial tools like loans and mortgages all the way to seeing the importance of a financial cushion when times get tough. It’s been an evolution, rather than a revolution and I know that I’m far from over in my learning process.  

What do you do outside of work?

I like to go for runs, do a little bit of hiking and when possible relax with some yoga in the park. I also love cooking at home with my partner.

Favorite LGBT+ business?

The Los Angeles LGBT Center does amazing work for our community!

Categories
Money Stories

Money Stories: Daniella Flores (ILikeToDabble)

Hey folks! We’re kicking off a new series on our blog today: Money Stories. The goal of this series is to start the conversation about how being LGBT+ has affected our financial lives and hopefully help people feel inspired to talk more openly about money!

– Billie

Daniella is a serial side hustler, entrepreneur and cat lover. Over the last 2 and a half years herself and her wife Alexandra have been able to pay off $35,000 in debt partially thanks to side hustles. She blogs over at ILikeToDabble.

When was the first time you thought about money?

The first real time I started thinking positively about money was when I was in my mid 20’s, reading articles about creating an emergency fund, investing, and started thinking about how money could be used as a tool. Before that, money was always a source of anxiety. 

I remember growing up and being scared I wouldn’t make enough. If I could just live “comfortably”, I would be happy. 

I never thought about being able to retire, travel, and what to do when my parents were reaching retirement. These weren’t the things they taught in school.

What was your “aha” moment with money?

When my wife and I had to go to the thrift store one weekend to get gas money and food money before we got paid the next week. We are both kind of spenders and did not normally budget our money together when we first got married.

The feeling of falling into a paycheck to paycheck cycle had us thinking more of the future and what we want to be able to do. Plus, we still had debt. We had to figure something out.

How has being LGBT+ impacted your relationship with money?

Among all my relationships, my wife and I actually have a pretty healthy relationship together with money where we have a clear set of goals we are going after. It took a while to get here because neither of us were really “money people” but over time and learning together, it kind of just fell into place. We actually started learning more about money together online from financial blogs and when I started my blog to track some of our side hustle progress. As we discussed these things we learned online together, and things started to make sense. 

Now, we are fortunate enough to be able to bring in a good amount of money every month, our side hustles are going strong, and are planning to move cross country before the end of the year.

It wasn’t always this way though as I’ve had a very unhealthy relationship to money and it was source of anxiety for a long time (that anxiety still exists in the back of my mind too from time to time…because you never know what could happen).

I think it is also important to note that because we live in a cis-hetero society and economy that centers around those needs, the needs of the LGBT+ community often gets overlooked. A big one is healthcare and that adds more anxiety to the overall relationship I think most of us have with money (I know it is a source of anxiety for us).

What are your financial goals for the future?

Ally and I are planning to move to Washington State by the end of 2020. So, selling our current house and finding our new one is a big goal in the near future.

Besides that, we don’t have any really huge goals right now. We want to travel a lot in the coming years and money for that, savings, and running our side businesses are other top of mind goals. Continuing to diversify income is always a big running financial goal and priority for us.

I wanted to leave my day job in the next 5 years but that was before rona hit. After seeing what could happen when our economy collapses has me second-guessing that goal and if it needs to be pushed out. Regardless, we are continuing to diversify our income streams and stash money away so it grows over time and we create a more work-optional life. 

Favorite LGBT+ business (online or IRL)?

TransTech Social Enterprises launched by Angelica Ross 

Categories
Team Spotlight

Team Spotlight: Rob Curtis – CEO and Co-Founder

I’m Rob Curtis, Co-Founder of Daylight. I’m a proud Aussie who’s been living in London for 14 years and in the middle of relocating to Los Angeles. Though as I write this I’m currently in Mexico with my fiancee where we can enjoy some sunshine and delicious food while being close enough to pop across to LA and meet our team as we need. 

In London, I was lucky enough to work on lots of wonderful projects in finance, banking, and the third sector. More recently I’ve been closer to my passion as a serial LGBT+ entrepreneur.  I was previously Managing Director of Gaydar, a dating site for 1.5m LGBT+ people which taught me a lot about the internal lives of the community. I then built a couple of start-ups – the latest one, Helsa is a mental health platform that connects LGBT+ people to specialist mental health support. 

What steps led you to Daylight?

Daylight is the culmination of my work as an LGBT+ entrepreneur, an activist, a professional in finance, and as a consumer frustrated with banking in general. 

It’s been a long journey as a gay man learning how to thrive (not just survive) as an adult in a world that’s not often designed with us in mind.  So I’ve tended to be most interested in “grown up” things that I had to figure out myself like investing in mental health, having a life plan, and managing my money. I do a lot of public speaking about LGBT+ mental health and entrepreneurship at businesses like Google (for OutinTech) and in professional settings as a Board member of Series Q, the network of LGBT+ entrepreneurs in the UK. 

I met Matej, my co-founder at a Series Q event when I was on a panel about motivating people in a start-up environment. Fast forward two years until February 2020 when he gives me a call saying “hey I’ve got an idea you might be interested in” and the rest is history! 

When was the first time you thought about money?

Money was something that I thought about young because my parents gave us $15 AUD (around $10 USD) every two weeks to do chores around the house. It wasn’t much but if I wanted to buy something big, I knew I had to put money away.   

But I really understood how impactful money was when I was around 13 and my family struggled to make ends meet in the early 90s recession. My parents were very stressed and I ended up delivering newspapers to houses in our neighborhood so our family would have a bit of extra cash to spend on treats like a dinner out.

I think this experience makes me the kind of person who gets anxious thinking about money so I’ve had to develop positive financial habits and not just ignore those unopened, unpaid bills sitting on my desk. 

What was your “aha” moment with money?

My aha moment came a few years ago when I was offered an appointment with an LGBT+ financial advisor. They helped me go from feeling anxious and ashamed talking about money to being comfortable opening up and trusting someone to help me figure out my financial goals and how to get there. I realized that as a gay man, I needed to organize my money differently to my brothers and how important it is to have someone who understand your lifestyle to help plan and get things in order. 

What do you do outside of work?

I spent time with my fiancee, Cesar – he is wonderful and very supportive of my crazy entrepreneur life.  I’ve always been a geek, so you’ll probably find me reading about the latest Sci-Fi show or video game on Reddit. I’m really lucky to have a wonderful group of friends from all over the world, so finding ways to spend time with them always makes me happy.  Oh and podcasts. I LOVE podcasts – you’ll hear me listening to Pod Save America, Keep It, Lovett or Leave It, Reply All, 99% Invisible, and Winds of Change which was probably my favorite podcast of the last few years (alongside a long list of fintech and business podcasts). 

Favorite LGBT+ business?

There are so many wonderful queer entrepreneurs and business leaders out there that it’d be hard to pick just one. On my shortlist, though, would be

  • Media: them.us – a media company that really gets that many modern queer lifestyles are intersectional and non-binary and there is a rich vein of important stories that aren’t being told.
  • Coffee: I popped into Bloom and Plume in LA for a take-out coffee recently. I love the community spirit there.
  • Lifestyle: I’m always impressed by the work that Robyn Exton and the team at HER do.  Queer dating platforms have always been dominated by men so it’s great to see how Robyn’s vision has been brought to life and how they’ve created a wonderful community of womxn, trans and non-binary people.