- Tune in to NextAdvisor on Thursday, June 24 for a livestreamed interview with Suze Orman in celebration of Pride Month. The personal finance icon will open up about her experiences as a gay woman breaking into the misogynistic finance industry of the 1980s — and answer your burning money questions about saving, investing, crypto, and more.
The finance industry doesn’t exactly have a reputation for being diverse or inclusive. Historically the province of wealthy, white men, it was never known as a place for LGBTQ+ people to freely express who they were.
That was also the case in the personal finance space, where people dishing out financial advice have typically been white, male and straight for as long as the industry has existed.
But that is changing.
Acceptance and awareness of the LGBTQ+ community are at the core of Pride Month every June, but that celebration cannot hide that there’s still work to do in the personal finance space. More than 60% of people who identify as LGBTQ+ say they’ve experienced financial challenges due to their sexual orientation or gender identity, according to a 2018 Experian study.
The growth of social media has made finding people who are both financial educators and members of the LGBTQ+ community easier, though, and we’ve talked to five of them as part of our initiatives to mark Pride Month.
These experts are working to make personal finance more inclusive and reflective of what the world actually looks like. With their growing online communities, they are educating their audiences about saving, investing, growing wealth—and raising awareness of the systemic inequalities the LGBTQ+ community must still overcome.
Liven up your social feeds, and give them a follow.
Suze Orman, host of the podcast “Women & Money” and a contributor to NextAdvisor, is one of the most powerful and influential voices in finance. She has written 10 consecutive New York Times bestsellers about personal finance, won two Emmy Awards, and eight Gracie Awards during her career.
She also happens to be gay, but she doesn’t tailor her financial advice for gay audiences. Whether you’re gay or not, she believes, the mechanics of personal finance are the same.
“I never wanted to be known as the lesbian money lady. I wanted to be known as the money lady who was also a lesbian,” Orman tells NextAdvisor. “Big difference.” Orman gained her footing in finance after becoming one of the first female stockbrokers in the Oakland office of wealth management firm Merrill Lynch—a dramatic shift both for Orman, who was previously a waitress at a local bakery.
She went on to start her own advisory firm, the Suze Orman Financial Group. Her work as a financial advisor gained a vast following with The Suze Orman Show, which ran on CNBC from 2002 to 2015. Orman, 70, is now living on a private island in the Bahamas with her wife and partner of two decades Kathleen “KT” Travis, but hasn’t quite slowed down yet.
In her upcoming conversation with NextAdvisor on June 24, Orman will open up about her uncompromising fight to preserve her identity as a gay woman while achieving unprecedented success in an industry not known for diversity or inclusivity.
Gay Husbands on FIRE
G and J are the married couple — that prefers to remain anonymous — behind Gay Husbands on FIRE, an acronym that refers to “financial independence, retire early.”
Both are in their early 30s, living in NYC, and planning for a life of financial independence by 2031. J is a public relations consultant originally from Colorado and G is a lawyer originally from Colombia. They met in Philadelphia in 2013 and got married in 2017. Since marriage, they have combined all of their finances and paid off $100,000 in student loans.
They strive to save at least 50% of their income every month and now have a combined net worth of over $600,000. They’re documenting their FIRE journey on Instagram to share updates, tips on personal finance, and reflections about their money goals, hopes and fears.
Carmen Perez is the creator of Make Real Cents, a personal finance platform dedicated to helping people achieve financial independence and avoid the money mistakes she made early on.
Before 2016, Carmen had terrible credit, no money saved and was sued for defaulting on her student loan. That was the year she decided to turn things around and start her journey towards becoming debt free. She paid off roughly $57,000 of debt in nearly three years. While she was paying off her debt, Carmen and her now-wife Elise managed to also pay cash for their 120-person wedding in New York City in 2018.
After getting out of debt, paying for a wedding, and buying a home, Carmen began to save as much as she could, with a plan to quit her job in finance and learn how to code; she now works in tech. She’s currently a member of Business Insider’s Money Council.
Daniella Flores is a queer and nonbinary financial expert and founder of iliketodabble.com, a side hustle and money resource website. After paying off $40,000 of debt with their wife, they fell in love with the idea of side hustles — or “dabbling” as they call it in their online community — and the idea that they could leverage their creative energy to pursue financial freedom.
According to Flores, society makes LGBTQ+ individuals feel like they don’t have a lot of options to build wealth. Their mission is to change that.
“When you grow up in a society built for cisgender, heterosexual people and don’t fit that mold, you get left behind. In the LGBTQ+ community, you don’t see many folks going after financial freedom, nor many thriving really,” Flores says.
Based in the Pacific Northwest, Daniella is married to their wife Ally. They have two dogs and five cats.
Lexa VanDamme started The Avocado Toast Budget back in June of 2020 while facing unemployment shortly after graduating with a master’s degree. It started as a blog, but shifted to TikTok in September of 2020 when she started to share her journey paying off $20,000 in credit card debt in a year, and how she repaired her relationship with money. She now shares all of her tips and resources for free across Instagram, YouTube and TikTok.
VanDamme says The Avocado Toast Budget is a non-judgemental online community for millennials to learn how to be more confident with money in a way that makes sense to them and their life. She has two important beliefs that influence her content: “money is political” and “debt is morally neutral.”
“I carry those two beliefs throughout my content, talking about how systems of oppression affect personal finance, what it’s like navigating money as a queer and neurodivergent person,” VanDamme says, “and being transparent about my mass of student loan debt.”