If you’ve never struggled with debt, then we want to know your secret. Chances are, unless you are being bankrolled by a huge trust fund, you’ve dealt with something like student loan debt, credit card debt, or hospital bills. This type of financial burden can feel insurmountable, especially if you are dealing with other issues in your personal or professional life.
To help you navigate the difficult parts of debt, especially those unique to the LGBTQ community, OUT FRONT caught up with financial consultants and writers John Schneider and David Auten, also known as the Debt Free Guys. Here are some of their tips to get, and stay, out of debt.
1. Know your limits and budget
It’s easy to get caught up in having money to go out or enjoy a bit more financial freedom. But it’s important to really figure out a budget before you go on a wild spending spree.
“Back when there was a different gay bar to go to every night in Denver, we were at a different gay bar every night in Denver,” Auten admitted. “We overspent on happy hours that lasted several hours, expensive dinners despite having an overflowing fridge, clubbing at all hours every night, clothes we couldn’t afford, and vacations we shouldn’t have gone on. When we realized we weren’t heading in the direction we wanted, we changed.”
2. Realize that combining your finances isn’t an easy out
Many people in relationships feel that by having two incomes working as one, they can solve all their financial problems without pinching pennies or making a budget. In fact, people in relationships often end up spending more carelessly because they are caught up in the rush of being with each other or because one individual is handling the finances.
“It’s so easy to not pay attention to your own finances,” Brandon Beston, one of the Debt Free Guys’ customers, said. Beston and his husband learned through financial counseling that it is important to pay attention to spending and saving.
“Many times, one partner can end up taking the driver’s seat when it comes to taking care of paying the bills. This usually leads to a breakdown in communication. It happened to us. We lost sight of the big picture and ended up getting ourselves into a financial pickle.”
3. Understand that queerness can be an added challenge for financial wellbeing
When some think of being queer, they think a fabulous lifestyle. There’s a misconception that queer people can afford to have a good time and support the arts. But in reality finances in the LGBTQ community are extremely under-discussed. Because queer lifestyles have been underground for so long, and marriages weren’t legally binding, many end up overlooking their economic priorities.
“Many of us in the queer community carry limiting beliefs, including limiting money beliefs, from our childhood,” Auten said. “We’re making up for being bullied, forced into the closet, or kicked out of our homes.”
4. Believe that money can do good things in the right hands
Some in the LGBTQ community fear that too much money can change a person and take away the good, simple qualities that are a part of one’s inherent nature. However, in the right hands money can make a positive difference, both for personal lifestyle and the greater good.
“With financial freedom, those of us lucky enough to live in states with employment and transgender protections can continue and fight for our brothers and sisters who live in the other 28 states that don’t,” Schneider explained. “Also, we can also make sure that number decreases rather than increases.”
5. You can change your financial situation.
It doesn’t take a genius — or someone with a trust fund or financial backing — to make money and be successful. Even if you have debt, come from a poor family, or don’t start off with much, you can create positive change.
“If you’re struggling financially for any reason, you can change your financial situation,” Auten said. “It requires time, attention, and focus. You may encounter some mistakes and the occasional setback, but it can be changed if it’s not ignored.”
“There are newer financial companies with whom you can refinance personal and student loans,” added Schneider. “The gig-economy and technology have brought unique business models to make saving money, investing money, paying off debt, or managing your budget easier. The trick is to find what works for you and act.”
Contact the Debt Free Guys on their website DebtFreeGuys.com for more information.\