With their writing and speaking for DebtFreeGuys.com and Queer Money® podcast, David & John Auten-Schneider help queer people (and allies) live fabulously not fabulously broke. As certified LGBTBEs, they are the queer voice in both personal and business finances.
David and John’s work has appeared on Forbes, Yahoo! Finance, NBC’s Squawk Box and The News with Sheppard Smith, ABC News, Good Morning America, and The Rachael Ray Show to name a few. They’ve partnered with some of the best in financial services, including Capital One, Experian, MassMutual, American Express, and Prudential. They’ve partnered with some of the best LGBTQ+ organizations including, The Trevor Project, Callen-Lorde, The William Way Foundation, One Colorado, and LGBTQ+ centers nationwide.
Their goal is to connect LGBTQ+ people with the information and tools they need to reach financial security.
1. What are the most common financial challenges impacting the queer community?
The most common financial challenges of the queer community based on The Motley Fool/Debt Free Guys LGBTQ+ Money Study are keeping up with the cost of living and being prepared for an emergency. These are exacerbated by the sexual orientation/gender identity wage gap, the fact that 48% of 2,005 respondents claim they’ve been discriminated against by someone in the financial services industry, and most recently, the Supreme Court of the United States suggesting considering repealing marriage equality. All this adds to our uncertainty and stress and is why 2/3 of respondents report having very high-stress levels.
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2. In your debt-free journey, did you have a specific moment where you decided to make it a goal to pay off your debt? What inspired you to pay off your debt?
Yes, there was a specific moment when we decided to pay off our debt. It was after spending a weekend in Winter Park CO and fantasizing about buying land and building a vacation home. On our drive home, we talked about how we’d finance such an investment. By the time we got to our home in Denver, we confessed that between the two of us we had $51,000 in credit card debt and that our lives weren’t going in the direction we hoped they would. It was at that moment that we committed to becoming debt free.
What inspired us to become debt free was figuring out what we truly wanted and stopping living up to other people and our culture’s expectations. When we realized that our true goals were saving for a comfortable retirement, traveling more but on cash rather than credit, and giving back to the LGBTQ+ community, we used those goals as our inspiration for getting out of debt.
3. What advice would you provide to other LGBTQ+ individuals who want to overcome the stresses of debt?
Our advice to other LGBTQ+ individuals who want to overcome the stresses of debt is to 1) peel away everything that’s been projected onto you and what everyone else in your life expects of you to figure out what you most truly want in life, 2) figure out why these things are important to you, and then 3) create a plan to pay off your debt consistently and methodically.
4. How can LGBTQ+ Americans make retirement savings a more pleasing experience?
Our suggestion for making saving for retirement more pleasing is to not think of saving for retirement as a burden but an opportunity, then plan for how you’ll save and invest what you need for retirement. Then, finally, gamify it. Make it a challenge to save more this month over last month or how you can increase your investments eight to ten percent year-over-year. After you make three months of consistent contributions to your company-sponsored retirement plan or reach $50,000 in retirement savings, treat yourself to a special lunch or take your partner to see a special movie on IMAX 3-D. These micro-challenges and milestone rewards will make the journey as enjoyable as the destination.
5. According to a survey by Student Loan Hero, around 40% of LGBTQ adults have student debt. How can a person navigate these issues?
We think everyone, but especially LGBTQ+ students, need to assess the true value of a college education today and not assume student loan debt or more student loan debt unless we’re sure it’ll yield a job with commensurate income. The common belief that higher education will lead to a better job or more security is not necessarily true anymore. Options are getting into the trades, which don’t require as much upfront cost on the student, often offer paid internships, and yield $40,000 to $70,000 with benefits for a first job.
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6. What else should LGBTQ individuals keep in mind regarding money matters?
LGBTQ+ individuals must start seeing their financial security as a tool for equality. Especially as our rights are under attack, the more financially secure we are as LGBTQ+ individuals and allies, the more secure we are as a community, and the more time, resources, and money we have to support the people and organizations that are trying to support us.
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