As a queer couple, we face discrimination in a lot of places. While this pushed us to lose trust in public institutions where we'd ideally need help to progress in our lives, it didn’t stop us from planning and securing our future financially. In fact, that's why we really need to.
Below are some relationship-friendly tips on how to get started saving and investing for you and your partner’s financial future, no matter your situation.
Step 1: 'The Talk'
Whether you live with your partner, share bills, or you’re both just trying to set yourselves up for a better future you both plan to enjoy together, you need to talk. This is the part where you both lay out your financial goals, habits and talk honestly with each other about income, expenses, debt and savings.
Here are some tips that helped us navigate the communication surrounding finances:
- Talking about money is not just about the numbers; give each other the space to express your emotions, be it fear, anxiety or inferiority.
- Income is not just a pay cheque. Talk about what other forms of income you have, and how frequent those come in.
- We've all made financial mistakes, so create a no-judgement space for both you and your partner to share any bad financial decisions you made in the past that still affects the present.
This was one of the hardest conversations for my partner and I, but the honesty made it a lot easier to tackle the next challenge of planning for our financial future together.
Step 2: 'The Budget'
I’m the more digital person in our relationship, so I make use of an Excel budget template, while my partner uses a bullet journal. At the end of the day, each of us has a copy of our budget that works for us.
Things always change, so we decided to set a 'budget day' on the 15th of every month, a week or so from both our paydays, to make sure we're on track and to avoid making rash decisions influenced by payday glee. When we're talking about our budget, we use the 50/30/20 rule (50% needs, 30% wants, 20% savings and investments).
With the 20% of overall income that we save every month, at the moment about half goes into our long-term 'Wealth' goal with a higher proportion of equity on the Franc.app and the other half goes into Franc's short-term Money Market fund for quick access in case of an emergency.
Step 3: Plan like everyday is an emergency
Life is unpredictable, which is why all couples need an emergency fund to help in situations that we never expect life to throw at us.
As a queer couple, we unfortunately still have to navigate a society that isn't completely friendly to us just because we have a different identity. That's why our emergency fund is one of the most important things we need to keep on track and disciplined about. Any day, we could require legal fees to fight a hate crime, or have to pay extra for medical services because we’re being discriminated against.
To make sure that we're covered for any of these events, we aim to have at least twice the amount of our monthly household income in our emergency fund.
Step 4: Prepare for the Golden Years
If you’re thinking about going the long run with your partner, it may help to start planning for your financial future into old age. Marriage equality was a major step for the queer community in our country. However, discrimination is still highly apparent. Just as there is a big wage gap between women and men, there's a definite pay gap between queer individuals and heterosexual workers. It's also a lot more difficult for queer workers to be employed, especially if it’s based on their skills and not a company’s new diversity campaign.
These salary variations become a factor into retirement planning. Thus, we decided it was rather important to start saving for retirement a lot earlier in our lives. We figured if we are planning to grow old together, a pension fund and retirement annuity are good options for our financial future. My partner’s employer offers a pension fund, where as I have a retirement annuity. In both cases, we have each other as beneficiaries. They are give us some tax benefit the only real difference is that a retirement annuity cannot be cashed out before retirement.
Every couple, despite gender and sexual orientation, have a dream of what their life could be in the near or distant future. For us, a secure financial future is part of the dream. The major life events upon us needed us to have a thorough and disciplined financial plan that aligns with our short-term and long-term goals. Preparing for our “I do”, a house or car purchase, or even planning for a mini us drove us into serious conversations around saving and investing.