5 Things

5 Things to Think About When Starting your Family

Starting a family is an exciting time, but it can be overwhelming too. As you search for fertility specialists, determine the factors involved in the logistics, and understand the laws and finances of starting a family, it gets to be a lot.

We’re here for you every step of the way, helping you understand the ins and outs of starting your family the way you dream.

Mixed race lesbian couple smile. One is pregnant.

1. Conceive or Adopt?

The first order of business is how you’ll bring a child into your life. If you want to conceive, you need to think of the method and everything that goes along with it. 

LGBT+ couples have a variety of options today – many more than ever before! A few options include:

  • Insemination of a partner with a uterus from a sperm donor
  • IVF using donor sperm and/or donor eggs
  • IVF using a gestational carrier
  • Reciprocal IVF (for example, one partner provides the egg and the other carries the baby)

What you’re comfortable with, what you can afford (more on that below), and the gender of the couple will determine the options. Most gay couples, for example, will have to rely on a gestational carrier with either a donor egg or donor embryo. Lesbian couples typically have a few more options.

Adoption is something any couple can do and is a wonderful way to bring a child into your life. You can do a private adoption or work with an agency. You’ll have to think about issues like ‘open or closed adoption,’ and if you want to be placed or you want to choose the situation.

2. Cost and Process of Conception 

Think long and hard about the cost of both conception and adoption as neither is cheap! IVF, for example, costs an average of $12,000 – $15,000. Some insurance companies may help with the cost, so be sure to check with yours.

Artificial insemination without donor sperm costs an average of $1,000, but if you need donor sperm, add an extra $1,000 per vial. Remember, not every cycle is successful, so plan a few rounds in your budget. 

If conceiving doesn’t work or you go straight to adoption, budget between $30,000 – $40,000 if you do an agency adoption and less if you go the private route (but this is less common).

3. The Laws Where you Live

Before you conceive or try to adopt a baby, make sure you know the laws in your state. Not every state recognizes the rights of biological parents of the same sex. Some states don’t recognize same sex parents, while others require you to ‘adopt’ your own child in order to make it legal.

If the laws in your state don’t make it possible for you to claim your child as yours legally, this could make it difficult to do things like add them to your medical insurance, or even authorized medical decisions including vaccinations.

Know your state’s laws well before adding a child to your relationship to avoid headaches and heartache.

4. Savings Plans

As you bring a child into the world, it’s important to set them up for financial security as young as possible.

Today there are many options to help your child get a healthy start on life. A few options to start savings include:

  • Start a 529 savings plan – You contribute money before taxes (lowering your tax liability) and the earnings grow tax-free. You can use the funds for your child’s education whether K – 12 or college.
  • Save in an online high yield savings account – Save money in an online high yield savings account as early as you can. Set up automatic transfers so you don’t even have to think about the savings. They happen automatically and as the interest adds up, your child will have a nice nest egg when they are older.

5. Work Benefits

You may not have the same maternal and paternal rights as non-LGBT+ parents at your company, so make sure you know your company’s policies.

If you plan to take time off to be with your new baby, find out if you’ll get paid leave through maternal/paternal leave, FMLA, or if the time will be unpaid. This will play a role in how long you take off and how you handle the first few months of your child’s life. 

Also, consider who will insure the child. A parent who’s not considered the ‘legal parent’ according to the state law can’t insure the child. If you both have insurance at work that your child is eligible for, determine who has the best coverage and the lowest premiums. Look at deductibles, issues that are covered, and the co-payments required for each instance.

Starting a family is exciting – and if you do your research, know your state laws, understand your rights, and know what it will take to conceive or adopt the child you dream of having with your partner, you can start the family you’ve always dreamt of having. 

Open Series

Open: We Are Fluide

We Are Fluide is a mission-driven beauty brand that creates vegan, cruelty-free and paraben-free cosmetics designed for all skin shades and gender expressions. We spoke with founder Laura Kraber about the importance of creating a beauty brand for LGBT+ people.

Want to feature your LGBT+ business or know of one you think should be featured? Email us at

We believe that makeup is joyful and fun — as well as powerful and transformative — and nobody should be left out.

Through providing a platform and amplifying the voices of queer and gender expansive identities and through showcasing queer beauty, we hope to inspire others to create their identities on their own terms, opening up possibilities for everyone’s self-expression.

The company came together around the idea that makeup can be a tool of transformation and a powerful means of self-actualization, especially for gender expansive teens and people in the LGBTQ community. Although mainstream media may primarily portray people who fit a very narrow definition of beauty, promoting impossible ideals, young people today are making the choice to be themselves—to accept their bodies and embrace their uniqueness. We want to honor and celebrate that ethos of self-acceptance, experimentation, and freedom. We Are Fluide represents an opportunity to recognize and celebrate the shift in our culture regarding gender expression, and to create products, content, and an online community that validates and supports the individuals leading this important movement.

To locate makeup outside of this paradigm of cis-female beauty is liberating and it opens up the potential for makeup to be a creative, empowering means of self-expression for all. Representing queer beauty and self-expression opens up possibilities for all—in how we look, who we are, and who we want to be. For us, the future of beauty is gender expansive–where gender is understood as unique for everyone, rejecting a binary with “masculine” on one side and “feminine” on the other and instead, allowing for a multitude of experiences and expressions of gender. I think beauty will continue to be less prescriptive and more individualistic, and overall more enjoyable and playful.

We champion queer beauty and support our community by bringing underrepresented people to the table in every capacity for our brand—as art directors, photographers, consultants, stylists, and models. We seek to ensure that for every underrepresented person we have in front of the camera, we have as many or more behind the scenes. We donate product on an ongoing basis to fundraisers and other community events. We’ve partnered with Callen-Lorde, The Marsha P. Johnson Institute, NYC Dyke March, Queer Detainee Empowerment Project, Stonewall Youth, and True Colors, just to name a few.

5 Things

5 Things to Boost your Financial Situation Right Now

Do you not love your financial situation right now? Do you wish you could snap your fingers and improve it?

While we don’t have a magic wand to make things happen, we do have 5 simple ways you can turn things around quickly. 

With these five tips, you’ll see the light at the tunnel a lot faster than you thought possible, whether that means getting out of debt, increasing your savings, or funneling your money to other financial milestones in your life.

1. Get rid of unneeded expenses

This isn’t as hard as it sounds. Go through your bank statement (credit card statements too) and notice where you spend. Chances are you have memberships, subscriptions, and other recurring expenses you don’t need.

Cancel them. You may save yourself around $100 a month with this simple tip if you’re the membership/subscription loving type.

2. Save only in high interest accounts

APYs at your local bank are laughable. Don’t waste your time. Look online and you’ll see much higher APYs available, many with no minimum balance required. Online high-yield savings accounts are more common today as more banks jump on board. 

Stick to the online-only banks because they offer the best interest rates thanks to their lack of overhead.

3. Automate your payments (and savings)

We all get busy and caught up in the craziness of life. Bills slip past us or we forget to transfer money to savings. We are only human.

Avoid this by setting up automatic bill payment and savings transfers. You’ll avoid late payments, unnecessary interest, and grow your savings account faster.

4. Check your credit report

Everyone has free access to all three credit reports annually. TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian all post different information (some may overlap). Pull each credit report at least once a year and go over it.

Look for errors, large and small. Check account balances, payment history, and even if the accounts belong to you. Mistakes happen all the time. If you don’t catch them, they could hurt your credit score quite a bit.

If you’ve changed your name or gender marker recently, make sure you’ve updated all three credit bureaus with those changes, otherwise you may end up with a partial score and history.

5. Use a rewards credit card

It seems odd to recommend using a credit card, but only do this if you will pay the balance off in full each month.

If you charge only what you’d normally buy and can pay for in cash, apply for a rewards credit card. Choose one that offers rewards you’ll use (i.e., cashback rewards, Amazon gift cards, travel rewards, etc.)

Make your regular purchases and expenditures and get rewarded for doing it!

Take Control of your Finances Today

Taking control of your finances won’t happen overnight, but with these five small changes, you’ll set the wheel in motion. Use the motivation they create to keep going – making other important changes in your financial life until you feel financially secure by having your debts under control, your savings account growing, and a plan set to reach your financial milestone goals, both short and long-term. 

Money Stories

Money Stories: Aaron McPherson

Aaron McPherson is a money coach who focuses on providing accessible financial education to the LGBTQ+ community.  He believes that by helping folks build generational wealth, we can build power. 

Aaron brings a wide range of experience into his coaching practice, having worked in fields ranging form higher education to tech start-ups. His breadth of experience informs his coaching and allows him to connect with clients on a personal level, the most important part of financial coaching. 

Aaron currently resides in Santa Cruz, CA with his husband and dog. 

When was the first time you thought about money?

I’ve thought about money in varying capacities throughout my life, but the first time I thought of money as stressful was when I was in middle school. As the youngest of four children, money was spread pretty thinly across all of us and our activities. My chosen activity of figure skating was very costly, so I constantly felt the strain that had on my parents and their financial situation. I’m incredibly grateful that my parents and family supported me in that endeavor, but I definitely held some guilt that I have just worked through processing.

As an adult I’ve constantly oscillated between being the overspender and the saver. Money can be such a tool and isn’t meant to be hoarded. So it’s tough to find a balance between saving, investing, and reaching our goals and using it to support ourselves and our loved ones.

Now I know money doesn’t have to be stressful. Capitalism and finance is a flawed system but I think as LGBT+ folks we can empower our communities and other marginalized communities to grow their wealth and use that as power.

What was your “aha” moment with money?

My “aha” moment was when my husband and I finally got out of credit card debt. When we paid off five-figures of credit card debt and didn’t have to pay extra towards those payments, I was able to step back and see how you can actually make money work for you when it’s not being sucked into never ending credit card debt. When we were in debt, it was this nonstop of feeling that it would never go away and it was something we had to live with. After paying it off, I realized you don’t have to live with that kind of debt, or any debt for that matter. That’s when I really got serious about getting our finances together to pay off student loan debt and prepare for retirement.

How has being LGBT+ impacted your relationship with money?

When I was a bit younger I used money as a way to make my life seem “perfect,” perhaps to overcome the feelings I had that I wasn’t enough because I was gay. This involved buying a bunch of furniture and clothes to make my life look amazing. This is in fact what got me into a great amount of credit card debt. As I have gotten older and I have become more comfortable with myself, that has fallen away. It definitely creeps in when I see people living certain lifestyles and feel the need to “buy” into that myself, but I have learned how to differentiate between what I want and what I’m being told by society to want to fit into a certain group.

As a white cisgender gay man I am lucky enough to have never felt discrimination in the workplace based on my identity, but I definitely have worked places where it didn’t feel comfortable to come out publicly. In those instances, I think the impact of my discomfort over my identity contributed to me not doing the job to the best of my ability, which has likely affected my career trajectory a bit. I’ve noticed that as I work in queer affirming spaces and with other queer folks that I am able to bring my true self to work which allows me to flourish.

What are your financial goals for the future?

Pay off student loans! The goal for that is September 2022, but aiming for earlier than that!

After that, it might be saving for a house or just investing more to retire early. I see money as a tool that we can use to help ourselves, our families, and our communities. So I am hoping that in the new year and once we are out of debt that we can focus more on setting aside money for our nephews and for giving to organizations that are important to us. I truly believe that giving (not for tax planning) should be a part of everyone’s financial plan.

Favorite LGBT+ business (online or ILR)?

I am so grateful that where I live has a thriving LGBT+ business community. Among the local businesses I love are the restaurants, Soif and La Posta.

I think it’s so important to support the LGBT+ businesses in our community, especially right now.


Want to be featured in Money Stories? Email me at

Open Series

Open: Kirrin Finch

Kirrin Finch is a conscientious clothing company, founded by Brooklyn-based couple Laura Moffat and Kelly Sanders Moffat, that meets the growing demand for gender-defying fashion by creating menswear-inspired apparel designed to fit a range of female and non-binary bodies. We spoke to co-founder Laura about their journey.

Want to feature your LGBT+ business or know of one you think should be featured? Email us at

Tell us a little about your business? What steps led you to where you are now?

I founded Kirrin Finch in 2015 with my wife Kelly because we were frustrated at being unable to find clothing for our wedding that matched our design, fit and style preferences. We had always envied men’s clothing, but it wasn’t designed to fit our bodies. And womenswear always felt too feminine. So the shopping experience was always demotivating and left us feeling like we didn’t fit in somehow.  Despite the fact we didn’t have any experience in fashion, we felt compelled to start the business because we knew there was a huge unmet need for clothing that fell outside the traditional binary options of womenswear and menswear. 

We launched the brand with a button-up shirt and over the last 5 years have built out our collection to include a whole range of menswear-inspired clothing and accessories. Our motto has always been to perfect one product at a time and make sure it has the best design and fit possible before moving on to add new products. We were very proud to launch our first suit at the beginning of 2020 since this was the impetus for starting the brand in the first place. And now almost a year later, we have seen countless photos and received many e-mails from customers who have worn our suits to their wedding.  They have told us how happy and confident they felt to be wearing something that made them feel truly authentic. That feels very special and validating. 

Is community important to you? How has the LGBT+ community impacted your business? 

100%. We didn’t start the brand because we wanted to just be another clothing company making shirts and pants. We started the brand because we wanted to solve a problem for all the other people (like us) who felt let down by fashion, and were not able to truly be themselves because no-one had taken the time to provide a product or brand just for them. We are part of the LGBT+ community and we serve the LGBT+ community. We want their voices to be heard and their fashion choices to be seen and embraced. Lesbians always get stereotyped as being unfashionable, but that is not true. It is just that no-one has given us the opportunity to be truly confident in our own skin.

When we first shopped around our business plan, advisors told us not to target the queer community. They said it is too small. You need to go bigger. And definitely don’t use the words, queer or LGBT+ because you’ll just alienate other people who may want to buy from you. But we really wanted to serve our community and help make them feel good about themselves, so we didn’t listen to our advisors. We have been in business for 5 years, seen lots of our similar businesses start and fail and we’ve stayed true to the mission and managed to grow year over year to the point where we have healthy margins and profits. 

Do you feel that being an LGBT+ founder has had an impact on your journey? What challenges and benefits have you experienced?

I live in Brooklyn, NY, so I am just one among many of LGBT+ folks. It is a great community to be part of. I can easily reach out to other LGBT+ founders and get advice or tap into other LGBT+ business networks, so there is an advantage to being part of such a connected group. We are all looking out for each other and want to help in any way we can. But in many ways I am shielded from the realities of being out and proud in places where being queer or gay is not accepted. We hear stories from customers in rural parts of the country where you can be fired for showing your true identity.

What are you excited about for the future?

I am excited for our customers and people in our community to be embraced and accepted for who they are no matter how they identify or express themselves.

And for the pandemic to be over! 2020 has been a tough year for everyone, including us. We are ready for people (including us) to get back to wearing clothing to the office, events, and special occasions.

5 Things

5 Things to Know About Saving for Retirement

Retirement may seem like it’s so far off, but it will be here before you know it. Even if you’re in your 20s or 30s, the time to plan for your golden years is now. The earlier you start saving, the more money you’ll have available during the years you can do what you want and not worry about the 9 to 5 rat race.

A lesbian couple hug and smile at the camera.

Even if you haven’t given retirement a second thought yet, consider these five factors.

1. The earlier you save, the more money you’ll have.

The difference between saving now and not starting for 10 years can be tens of thousands of dollars. For example, if you save at $500 a month at 25-years old, you’ll have $1.39 million saved by age 67. If you save the same amount but wait until you’re 35-years old, you’ll have $0.69 million. That’s a tremendous difference and it’s all thanks to compounded earnings.

2. Max out your employer’s 401K match.

Many employers match 401K contributions. They won’t match the entire $19,500 you can contribute in 2020, but they may contribute up to the first 5% of your salary or something similar. 

Find out what your employer will match (is it dollar-for-dollar or 50% match) and up to what amount. Then make sure you contribute at least that much to your 401K.

3. Take advantage of IRA tax advantages.

If you work for yourself or you maxed out your 401K, you can still take advantage of the IRA or Roth IRA plans. Regular IRAs provide tax deductions now (the year you contribute) and you may contribute up to $6,500. Roth IRAs don’t have the tax deduction now, but your contributions and earnings grow tax-free. If you wait until you are at least 59 ½ to withdraw funds, you pay no additional taxes.

4. Don’t cash out your retirement funds if you leave your job.

Leaving your job isn’t free reign to cash out your retirement funds. Instead, roll your retirement balance over to another retirement account. It could be another 401K or a personal IRA. Just don’t cash it out. If you do, you’ll not only owe taxes on the money but also a 10% early withdrawal penalty as it counts as ordinary income.

5. Choose a diversified portfolio.

You are in charge of how your retirement funds get invested. When you’re young, choose a more aggressive portfolio – one that’s heavier in stocks than bonds. As you get closer to retirement, though, go lighter on the stocks and heavier on the more conservative investments to avoid a major loss so late in your career.

It’s more important than ever to save for retirement now. It doesn’t matter if you’re 25 or 45 years old – start saving. If you’re unsure where the best place is to start, consult a financial advisor. Discuss your retirement plans, your current financial status, and what you need to save to achieve the life you desire during your golden years. 

Open Series

Open: Industry 27

Industry 27 is a full service production company created by Gabrielle Meit and Shanna Sciara, a lesbian couple from Brooklyn, New York with a passion for anything visual. They specialize in photography, videography, and graphic design. They also travel the world together and document their adventures on 27 Travels. Their work has been featured in publications such as The Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan, Visit Gay USA and more. We spoke with them about the importance of supporting LGBT+ businesses.

Want to feature your LGBT+ business or know of one you think should be featured? Email us at

Supporting LGBT+ businesses is so important because when you support queer businesses, you are showing support for the whole community!

As lesbian business owners and customers ourselves, we love supporting businesses in our community because we know that those businesses support us.

LGBT+ people are still not welcome everywhere, and we want to make sure that LGBT+ businesses, which tend to be more inclusive, are ones that succeed.

5 Things

5 Things to Know When Becoming a Freelancer

Becoming a freelancer is exciting! Suddenly you are at home and able to work your own schedule. You and your partner have more freedom to do what you want, and you can still make a decent income. It’s the best of all worlds!

A person with a camera looks to the right.

Before you start freelancing, though, you should know the top five things that could affect your bottom line. They all affect the largest liability you’ll face as a freelancer – your taxes.

Here are the top ways to minimize your tax liability and keep more of the hard-earned money you make freelancing.

1. You’ll pay both sides of the taxes.

When you work for someone else, they cover the Medicare and Social Security taxes. When you’re on your own – there’s no one to pay them but you. The self-employment tax is equal to 15.3%.

2. You may write off your home office.

If you use a part of your home exclusively for your business, you may write off the expenses on your taxes. Keep in mind, though, to write off your rent, mortgage, utilities, or even taxes for that portion of the home, it must be for exclusive use and not shared for other uses outside of business hours.

3. You may deduct mileage and meals.

If you can prove any mileage and meal expenses you deduct are strictly for business purposes, you may deduct them. They cannot be intermingled with personal uses, though. For example, if you and your partner go on vacation, but you spend two of those days in seminars, it doesn’t count as a business expense since the vacation was personal.

4. Keep your business and personal expenses separate.

Even if your freelancing business is small, keep a separate business account for your business expenses. It will make your life a ton easier at tax time. Without the separation, it’s hard to distinguish between the two and could even trigger an audit from the IRS if you aren’t careful.

5. Pay your taxes quarterly.

No one likes that big unpleasant tax bill on April 15th, especially freelancers. Since you’re responsible for your own taxes, it’s best to make estimated quarterly payments. This does two things:

  • Lowers your total tax bill on April 15th as it’s hard to pay the entire bill upfront
  • Eliminates the risk of paying a late payment penalty because you didn’t keep up with your quarterly payments

As a freelancer, you have a lot more tax worries than a person who works for an employer. It’s important to get the tax support you need from a professional. You’ll learn which deductions you can legally take, how and when you should pay and what forms you must file.

While taxes are a bit more complicated when you work for yourself, they aren’t impossible and the benefits of working for yourself are amazing. Take advantage of your ability to work from home or for yourself and get the tax support you need to make it worthwhile. 

Open Series

Open: Sharpe Suiting

Sharpe Suiting is a premiere suiting label in Hollywood, Los Angeles. They design and make body-appropriate dresswear for people who identify as butch, trans, genderqueer, androgynous, and anything else masculine-of-center. We spoke with Founder Leon Elias Wu about the journey of building this business, and funding LGBT+ businesses as a way of creating social change.

Want to feature your LGBT+ business or know of one you think should be featured? Email us at

Supporting LGTBQ businesses is not just an investment in that particular business; it’s an investment in you and your community. 

It’s been a long and prosperous road together, Sharpe Suiting along with our loyal clients. We’ve been in business for almost a decade now; we could not have done it without the support of our community. When I started this company 7-8 years ago, I had a vision of putting people who identified similarly to me, you and all queer identities in the mainstream zeitgeist or public eye. Back then, I didn’t see a secure path or light at the end of the tunnel, especially since so many queer fashion pioneers in the past decade at that time had tried to no avail. Building a fashion brand alone in itself is challenging — how can one build a queer fashion brand or industry where none had previously and viably existed? Looking back, 95% of our peers or competitors went out of business or filed for bankruptcy within the first 5 years. Against all odds, Sharpe Suiting, a public benefit which is queer and POC-owned, has weathered the storm. We feel immensely grateful and lucky to have played a big part in history supporting marriage equality and LGBTQ / trans visibility into becoming a reality. 

Business and markets need capital to grow, either from investors or external markets or revenue capital. Investing in queer businesses infuses capital into queer fashion, this industry which we have created altogether. The business or economic cycle not only grows the business but it also allows us to put money back into empowering the community socially and financially. Over the years, we’ve put every penny back into our community, donating money or product to LGBTQ youth organizations, educational institutions and homeless shelters. We’ve put public figures, influencers and LGBTQ celebrities onto the runway and supported the careers and opportunities for these rising stars. In addition, we’ve been able to create dozens of new employment opportunities and business partnerships that continue to grow in their endeavors as well. 

Together we get to build a ‘change engine’ or locomotive that keeps filtering capital into all the right places while at the same time bringing justice and opportunity to our clients, constituents and community. 

Photo credit: Kelly Balch

The Issues

Does Ethical Investing Really Exist?

Money has power. It has the power to change your personal circumstances, to unleash both your potential and other’s, and to drive real change in the world. What we do with our money matters; boycotting businesses as a way of driving social change has long been a tactic of discriminated-against groups. 

Recently, the inverse of this strategy has become more popular; supporting businesses and organizations that are run by or work for the communities you belong to is a great way to keep those businesses thriving, which has the roundabout effect of encouraging other members of that community to start their own businesses and thrive. 

Divesting vs Investing

These tactics also exist in investing. Divesting caused Peabody, the world’s biggest coal company, to go bankrupt in 2016. On the other side, there’s ethical investing (or social impact investing, ESG investing, whatever you want to call it). 

But how do you decide if a company is worth divesting or investing in? Well, there are a lot of approaches.

The easiest is to invest in existing ethical funds. ‘ESG’ funds like the Vanguard FTSE Social Index Fund which “track a benchmark of large- and mid-capitalization stocks that have been screened for certain social, human rights, and environmental criteria” allows you to easily manage your money in a way that outsources the work of assessing companies. 

Assessing a Company

But what if that isn’t enough for you? Well, then it’s time to start doing some research! Make a list of the things that matter to you when supporting a company or business. Examples might include:

  • Business goals/outcomes – is the company trying to do something good in the world?
  • Inclusive practices – does the company have internal and external policies around inclusivity? Is the entire C-suite straight white men? 
  • Partnerships – What other companies do they partner with and what are their ethics like? Would those companies also pass this assessment? (Might also be a good way to find other companies that you can invest in too!)
  • Social good – do they do anything to support causes that matter to you? Do they just change their logo to a rainbow during pride month, or do they actually support causes with time, money, support year-round?

Beyond Stocks

Beyond the stock market, there are also ways to get a return on investment in more innovative ways. Organizations like The Zebra Collective and other collective venture capital or angel groups like Gaingels offer ways to be more specific with your investments, and to invest in founders and ideas that excite you. 

Ultimately, it’s about what matters to you and where you want to put your money. Everyone has different principles around what is important to support, and as long as you feel you’re doing good in the world with your money, that’s all that matters!