Categories
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 businesses@joindaylight.com

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.

Categories
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 billie@joindaylight.com

Categories
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 businesses@joindaylight.com

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.

Categories
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 businesses@joindaylight.com

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.

Categories
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 businesses@joindaylight.com

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

Categories
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!

Categories
The Issues

The Hidden Costs of Transitioning

I’m finding this blog post really hard to start. There’s so much to say on this topic and it’s such a complex and personal issue that I’m almost at a loss for words. Transitioning is different for everyone. For some, it means hormones, name changes and surgeries. For others, it’s some of none of those things. It’s personal, it’s difficult, and often it’s really really expensive!

I’ve spoken briefly about how I got myself into debt transitioning: I was working a job that paid barely the living wage for NYC and despite freelancing on the side, I was not managing my money properly. I then got myself further into debt in order to retrain as a software engineer, one of the few career paths I could see that would allow me to work remotely (something I felt I needed for my mental health) while also giving me access to the kinds of salary levels that could actually enable me to access the surgeries I felt I needed to self actualize. 

My friend (who is also a trans woman) and I often joke about how every trans woman we know is a software engineer, but this took a more serious tone when, for some Daylight research, I was looking at your average monthly expenses if you’re a trans woman vs if you’re cis. She’s a senior software engineer, and has been on 6 figures since before she transitioned, so money has never been a barrier to any of her transition steps. When we looked at the spreadsheet, she texted “how can anyone who’s not on six figures afford all this”. Quite! 

A transgender woman in a hospital gown speaking to her doctor, a transgender man, in an exam room.
Credit: The Gender Spectrum Collection.

The process of transitioning will vary from person to person according to their desired procedures and surgeries. Many will have different support networks and employment situations that could either help facilitate or act as a roadblock to transition. A lot of younger and less financially independent trans people, for example, who rely more heavily on monetary support from their parents, may experience a major financial setback, simply in failing to gain acceptance from their family.  

I think it’s also important to acknowledge here that some trans people choose not to take any medical steps, additionally non-binary people and people of other genders might also choose to medically transition. Everyone’s journey is different and valid, and today I just want to talk about those that do choose to take these steps, and the costs involved.

So, what are the costs?

Starting off with some of the costs of socially transitioning, getting a name change in the United States will cost in the range of $150 to $436, depending on which state or county you reside. Fees relating to the documentation of your name change, like the birth certificate and a certified copy, are included in that price range. A change of name on your driving license will typically cost around $20.  

There may be small costs relating to the purchasing of physical items that can enhance the gender experience of an individual. Products like chest binders cost around $30 while packers can be in the range of $10 to $20. 

Regarding the road to medically transitioning, hormone replacement therapy is one procedure that some wishing to transition see as a crucial step in their gender affirmation. The prescriptions and regular check-ups involved can cost around $1,500 a year. For transgender men’s hormone therapies, testosterone injections typically cost around $80 monthly, with testosterone patches costing more than $300 monthly. 

Sexual reassignment surgery (SRS, or GRS for ‘gender’) for trans women and trans femme people costs upwards of around $30,000, which many will find a daunting check to write, but the benefits will completely outweigh the costs. Other surgeries such as top surgery will cost between $9000 to $10,000.  

Many of the costs for surgery-related changes will vary depending on the complexity of the procedure, which comes down to the choice of that individual. For example, a metoidioplasty can range from anywhere between $50,000 to $60,000 whilst facial feminization surgeries (FFS) can be as expensive as $40,000 or as little as $3000, depending on which collection of surgeries you choose to have. 

Physical health considerations relating to transitioning must also be considered alongside psychological care, as trans people are more likely to be affected by anxiety and depression. It seems that from a bird’s-eye view, the bills really do begin to pile up.

How to fund a transition

The cost of gender affirming medical treatments can amount to more than $100,000 and a lot of these treatments are not covered by health insurance, based on short sighted ‘medically necessary’ clauses. 

The hidden costs to self-actualize, for a community already in an up-hill struggle legally and socially, are then doubled by a more complicated process for raising such money for these costs. For example, public funding platforms like GoFundMe require an individual to share their personal struggle to people which many individuals wishing to transition won’t be comfortable doing. There’s also evidence that being white, binary-presenting and a man makes it easier to crowdfund for surgeries.

Other methods of a medical loan or simply ‘saving up’ are more difficult for a group who are disproportionately of low income, and experience high levels of employment discrimination.

We’ll cover health insurance more deeply and broadly in a later blog post, but around 18% of trans people remain uninsured even though insurance companies have made sizeable strides in the past decade to provide coverage for transgender care. About 83% of insurance companies offer healthcare benefits that cover transgender care.

However, whilst this is now the case, some surgeries that are deemed ‘cosmetic’ by health insurance companies are less likely to be covered by their insurance policies. Procedures such as hair-removal, non-breast implants such as hip/face, or FFS are controversially labelled as not medically necessary for trans patients, when they are necessary for safety reasons. These treatments are medically necessary because they make it more likely that that person will move through society without being subject to bullying or harassment.

There has been some good progress in that regard, but the struggle carries on. Regarding the idea of ‘completing’ a transition: it must be held that no individual should feel pressured into undergoing multiple surgeries in order to validate their gender, and that transitioning doesn’t have a start, or an end. However, while surgery isn’t everyone’s goal, anyone wishing to embark on it should be supported. Ultimately, it’s about being comfortable in your skin and feeling safe and affirmed in your gender.

Categories
The Issues

LGBT+ Retirement: What You Need to Know

Did you know that half of all LGBT+ people believe they will have to work well beyond retirement age?

Retirement can be a scary prospect if you aren’t prepared. For a lot of people, the thought of things like 401ks, retirement homes and relying on familial support can send anyone into panic, but for LGBT+ people, it’s often even scarier.

Two older gay men embrace

Finding Support

40% of LGBT+ older people have said that their networks have become smaller over time, as compared to 27% of non-LGBT+ people. They are also more likely to live alone and less likely to have children or family that they can rely on to advocate on their behalf.

I do wonder if this will change over time; in our previous article about Queer Families we found that 63% of LGBT+ millennials are considering expanding their families either by becoming parents for the first time or by having more children. But for our current cohort of LGBT+ seniors the numbers are not quite this high, largely because it’s only recently become socially acceptable and legal for LGBT+ couples to raise families and adopt in the USA.

Roth IRA who?

The general consensus goes like this: if you want to be prepared for retirement, you need to start young. But being able to afford to put a hundred dollars a month or more in an account you won’t be able to touch for 40+ years is a hard concept to swallow if you’re living paycheck to paycheck or…yknow…during a global pandemic.

Additionally, 25% of LGBTQ Millennials rate their investing knowledge/financial acumen as very knowledgeable, compared to a third (33%) of Non-LGBT Millennials who rate themselves as very knowledgeable. I think a lot of people don’t even know where to start when it comes to retirement! There are all these confusing terms like ‘Roth IRA’ and ‘401k’ that you hear a lot, but no one ever seems to be able to explain what they actually mean.

The cost of being queer

All of our research ultimately points to the fact that being LGBT+ just costs more than being non-LGBT+. We’re more likely to have more student debt, family planning costs more, trans people face astronomical costs to self-actualize and even LGBT+ retirement homes cost more! They’re more likely to be in a city with a higher cost of living, and there are fewer of them (maybe as few as 22!).

But why does being in an LGBT+ specific retirement home matter? Well, for one thing, a lot of LGBT+ seniors fear being discriminated against, or just simply misunderstood. I highly recommend this podcast episode by Nancy on queer retirement. Hearing the conflict in the voices of gay seniors as they discuss the awkwardness of their straight friends at retirement homes presuming that they’re also straight really drives home how important it is that you’re able to grow old in a space that understands you and doesn’t try and erase your identity.

Categories
Money Stories

Money Stories: Hadassah (Ride Free Fearless Money)

Image of Hadassah Damien from Ride Free Fearless Money

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

Hadassah Damien is a professional strategist, award-winning queer artist, entrepreneur, facilitator and educator. She founded Ride Free Fearless Money, an iconoclastic blog and finance consulting firm, in 2015 with the mission of stabilizing progressive communities by empowering people’s relationship to money. 

Ride Free Fearless Money helps individuals, partners, business owners, organization leaders, and cooperatives to create actionable and equitable financial strategies. Damien shares writing and online courses, collaborates in strategy sessions, and facilitates online trainings and workshops.

Ms. Damien is Brooklyn-based, with deep roots in working-class Western NY. She puts the values she inherited both into practice and under microscopes in her work. She has an MA from the CUNY Graduate Center, an Honors BA from the University of Toronto, her professional training and work is in communications, civic technology, and human centered design, and she’s an Accredited Asset Management Specialist from the College for Financial Planning.

When was the first time you thought about money?

The first time I thought about money was early on, as my parents made it clear to me we didn’t have much of it. The message was clear: be frugal, make things last, use what we have, creativity is more important than new gadgets, and you’re not getting new stuff so don’t ask. On one hand, these are (mostly) great values and I’m grateful they were instilled in me because they’ve lead me to be able to easily save money and not get stuck in cycles of consumer debt. On the other hand, the purpose of money isn’t to be freaked out by it and save all you get for a rainy day. Currency is meant to be a tool for exchange. My learnings later in life were about balancing rainy day preparation — which is important for those of us without financial safety nets — with using the other money I have.

What was your “aha” moment with money?

I always knew money meant the power to make decisions — I just thought for a long time I’d never have that power and would have to get creative with my decisions. But, in my 30’s, I started challenging myself to think about money as a tool, rather than simply a limitation or source of stress. That got me curious and wondering how it worked – and lead me to be willing to take what felt like risks at the time with various investing methods, because I understood them a lot more.

Once I understood it, I learnt what felt risky because it was so, and what felt risky because it was new, and could work around that. Investing can feel freaky because it’s not everyday you sit down and go “how can I make some money for my future?” but a nice boring reliable recurrent investing plan is one way you can go from precarious to prepared for the future. For folks who experience marginalization in everyday life, or who have historical inequality behind them, this can be a real game-changer. 

How has being LGBT+ impacted your relationship with money?

As a white cisgender lesbian, I haven’t experienced direct discrimination based on being queer, but for a long time I felt very alienated by status quo culture — hetero, middle-class, kahki-wearing white people. I didn’t see all the energy and passion I experienced in my creative, radical, queer life reflected by the status quo, so after trying out a day job and having a terrible boss and experience, I tapped out and worked lower-paying jobs in community. I also decided that I would never end up in a situation ever again where I had to suck it up to a cruel boss because of money — I saved an emergency fund, strategically built up all kinds of skills, freelanced on the side of other freelance, and picked jobs where the culture was intentional and cooperative. It was great; wonderful people, and excellent learning – but at some point, I realized I needed to make more money or I was going to struggle to support myself, forever. 

Queer and progressive people can build amazing businesses because we are more likely to be aware that domination culture is part of the problem, and now I work as a business and experience strategist, human-centered designer, and facilitator with organizations. I’ve made it my work to make work not suck, to center people by design, and help money not to be scary.

What are your financial goals for the future?

As a financial coach and consultant, I’m always asking others this question!! My goals include buying a home in the next year or so and paying the hell out of it so it’s paid off and I’m FI by 50 (I’m 41 now). I watched my mom grind away working low-paying jobs until she was 70 and I am highly motivated not to live that way, so another goal is to make enough money to be easily able to help her, give back, and have money to hit my goals. 

Favorite LGBT+ business (online or IRL)?

Ride Free Fearless Money is my personal brand, where I blog all about how money works from an intersectional and progressive perspective, as well as workbooks, courses, and classes. Let’s Talk About Money is the consulting I do with organizations, schools, foundations, etc:

Otherwise, my favorite queer business was the queer-owned local coffee shop that closed recently, so my 0.02 is to go support your local queer-owned brick and mortar business because they are struggling right now!

Categories
Money Stories

Money Stories: Ali and Alison (All Options Considered)

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

This week, we’re chatting with Ali and Alison Walker from the blog All Options Considered. Ali and Alison met in 2004, got married in 2006, reached financial independence in 2017, and retired in 2018. Ali retired from her career in marketing and business development for A&E firms at the age of 44, and Alison worked as a Photoshop expert managing image retouching of high-end catalogs until she retired at age 54.

After reaching financial independence and retiring early, these lesbian members of the FIRE community now spend their time coaching others on financial independence and blogging about their experiences with personal finance, travel, and being good global citizens.

When was the first time you thought about money?

Ali: I learned about money as a little kid by watching my grandparents give my mom money every month to pay rent, buy food, and keep gas in the car. I didn’t understand why my parents didn’t have jobs or money, but it was clear that they were both unbanked, uninterested in earning money, and carefree/careless about accruing debt. So instead of learning about money from my parents, I focused on learning about money from my hard working grandparents.

Alison: When I was about 12 years old I had a savings account and I had several things I wanted to save for all in that one account. I kept a ledger for each item I was saving for so I could track my progress. The funny thing was that my Dad was a CPA and never really talked to me about money, because talking about money was considered taboo in my family. So I came up with my childhood accounting process on my own. If my Dad had taken the time to educate me about money instead of assuming my future husband would take care of our finances, I would have been more ready to handle my finances once I was out on my own. I made it my mission to give myself a financial education and though it took a long time, I did get there. 

What was your “aha” moment with money?

Ali: When I was 26 I got my first job that paid over minimum wage. At that point in my life I had $43k in student loan debt, a car loan, and some credit card debt. I was very excited to have a decent paycheck, to start investing in retirement accounts, and to start paying off my debt. That’s also when I started letting go of my guilt and shame about being in poverty as a kid, and decided I was ready to start working harder on my own financial education.

Alison: My moment was back in 2005 when I realized money and investing did not have to be scary or exclusive. I was determined to educate myself to a level where I wouldn’t feel stupid when I was meeting with a loan officer at a bank, or my human resources manager at work to talk about my 401k choices. Learning about personal finance was empowering for me, and opened the door for me to set my own financial goals. Realizing it was possible to take control of my future gave me confidence and helped me see past boilerplate, average ideas about personal finance. 

How has being LGBT+ impacted your relationship with money?

Ali: When I was 18 I was fired from a job for being a lesbian, and for not looking like my heteronormative bosses. That experience stuck in my memory as a reminder that huge numbers of people in the LGBT+ community have faced discrimination from their employers and suffered financially because of it.

Alison: When I was younger I was not as confident about being an out lesbian in the 1980s. I didn’t speak up as much when I had questions. I was nervous about the prospect of standing out or bringing attention to myself at work. I felt uninformed and excluded from the world of money, and I hate the idea that so many other people in our community still feel that way today. 

What are your financial goals for the future?

Both: Our financial goals today are focused on sticking to our budget, and planning carefully for our future. We want to maintain an emergency fund of three years of living expenses since we no longer have job related income to rely on, and we no longer have employer provided health insurance to help cover our medical costs. Our other financial goal within the next year or two is to find a new home base to purchase somewhere in the USA. We want to make a home and a safe space for ourselves and a member of our chosen family where we can spend time with the people we love.

Favorite LGBT+ business (online or IRL)?

There are so many businesses out there that support the LGBT+ community in different ways. Here are some of our favorites:

Mental Health: When we lived in Seattle Ali was on the board of Seattle Counseling Service. This amazing organization is focused on the mental health and wellness of Seattle’s LGBT+ community. SCS is the oldest LGBT+ focused community mental health agency in the world, and we are very proud to support them. 

Debt Reduction: We love John and David of the Debt Free Guys. They have made it their mission to serve the LGBT+ community by creating the tools and support system people need to get out of debt and reach financial security. We are proud to support the work that they do in any way we can.

Travel to Ecuador:  In 2019 we traveled to Ecuador for a financial independence conference hosted by Cheryl Reed of Above the Clouds Retreats. We had an amazing time with the 28 person group, and Cheryl handled all of the logistics. She showed us the best of Quito, Otavalo, and took us on a bunch of fun side trips as well. It was an unforgettable experience. We also spent a week at Cheryl’s Guest House in the Choco-Andino Biosphere Reserve, and we loved being out in the wilderness while we were there. Cheryl is one of the best global citizens we know, and we look forward to future trips to Ecuador because of her.

Restaurant: When we lived in Seattle we loved Terra Plata in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. We look forward to returning on Paella night the next time we are in town!