Michael Crawford

7 Days to a Better Financial You

Filed By Michael Crawford | April 09, 2008 9:40 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Living, Marriage Equality
Tags: gay families, gay relationships, Human Rights Campaign, taxes

Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock.

That's more than just a line from Madonna's latest single, it's also the sound of the rapidly approaching deadline to file your federal taxes. In preparation for that April 15th deadline the Human Rights Campaign has launched 7 Days to a Better Financial You, an educational campaign to provide you with resources and features to assist you in navigating the complicated tax laws and offer give tips on good financial decision-making.

Across the country, millions of same-sex couples face significant financial burdens and legal hurdles in building a secure future for their families. As a result of the Defense of Marriage Act, which prevents the federal government from recognizing legal same-sex marriages, these couples are denied access to the more than 1,100 federal benefits and protections available to married couples.

This means they can't take time off to care for a loved one without risking job loss; they can't provide survivor benefits to their partner or children despite a lifetime of payments into Social Security; they can't get equal pay for equal contribution as a federal employee or veteran; and they can't include their spouse or children on their employer-based health plan without facing significant tax penalties.

According to the Williams Institute, the average employee who receives partner benefits pays an additional $771 per year out of pocket in federal taxes based on the value of those benefits.

In other words, GLBT people pay more and get less.

HRC is also joining forces with a bipartisan group of members of Congress to advocate for a legislative agenda known as Family Matters to pass laws that provide equal rights and responsibilities for same sex couples and their families. The proposed legislation includes the Family and Medical Leave Inclusion Act, the domestic partnership tax bill and the Domestic Partnership Benefit and Obligations Act or DPBO.

The HRC website has more info including details of a national web chat on Thursday April 10 at 3pm EST to answer your questions, the basics of financial planning and legal documents that can be used to protect your relationship.

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The greatest obstacle I've faced to a secure financial future was not being able to get employment. I was a very experienced professional who couldn't get more than part time entry level employment without benefits due to being transgender. Ended up in bankruptcy & foreclosure. Oh - I was a member of my local HRC steering committee during this period of my life.

HRC had a huge opportunity to address the #1 financial security issue faced by transgender people. Telling us how to manage assets we don't have - rather like Joe Antoinnette saying "Let Then Drink Appletini's!"

As I said on Sara's post about HRC's program, I'm always amazed that Bilerico posts on finances never seem to be that well received. There's very few comments. It is almost as if we're afraid of talking about the subject.

Or maybe it's just editorial scope. We don't get many comments from blog publishers on posts about health care, but I can't be held responsible for that....

Of course, this post mentions HRC, so I'm obliged to leave the following comment:


Wait, I thought the whole "tick tock" thing was from "Hung up." And that's so not Miss M's most recent single, Michael.

Do we have to revoke someone's Q-card? I can't do it since Bil already revoked mine like 8 times this year.

Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | April 9, 2008 11:49 AM

Dear Alex (shaking my head in disbelief),

"Tick-tock" is from M's new song 4 Minutes to Save the World. Steve did a great review of it when it was first released.

Don't make me send you back to Gay School to brush up on your Madonna history.

Is this the 10th time I've lost my Q-card this year? Serena took it away from me as well this past week, and I can't remember why...

That's why you keep losing it, Alex. You're not gaying attention.

I'm always amazed that Bilerico posts on finances never seem to be that well received. There's very few comments. It is almost as if we're afraid of talking about the subject.

This is a blog where people tend to post from personal experience, and it is cliché but true that in American culture it's easier for people to talk about sex than to talk about money. A few of us keep score regarding whose a winner or a loser by how much sex we get, but most of us keep score (subconsciously if not consciously) about who is winning and losing based on how much money we get (and, though less important, whether we are smart enough to hold onto it or not).

So, the well-off readers are hesitant to write about their situation because 1) they might be seen as bragging, which is not the intent, and 2) advertising one's wealth isn't that smart, it potentially sets you up as a target.

And the not-so-well-off readers ... well, it don't feel so hot to post to the world that, say, "I'm five years from retirement and I still have trouble paying the cable TV bill, and I can only afford Progresso Vegetable Beef two weeks out of the month, the other two weeks I live on Campbell's Chicken Noodle."

So, if you want financial posts to generate better traffic, that is a barrier that needs to be handled somehow. Now go figure.

And I'll end by saying this: (1) I'm not exactly rich, and (2) I know I'm smart enough to do well financially, but I expect I haven't done better because of certain psychological traits I have or lack, and (3) beyond saying that, for some reason I can't put my finger on, I don't feel safe talking about any more particulars here. And for some additional mysterious reason, the fact that this is a GLBT blog adds to that hesitancy. Gay men and trendy lesbians are all supposed to have spacious penthouse condos overlooking College and Massachusetts Avenue (I'm talking Indianapolis here) by the time they turn 30, and that hasn't happened for me yet.

On the other hand, I know that if someone figures out the right thing to do at the right time, and follows thru with it, a person can amass considerable wealth quickly. I have two friends who I knew when they were average "Joe on the street" and now they are millionaires, and they both made their first million in less than five years. So if their situation wasn't hopeless, then probably neither is mine.

P.S. Alex and Michael, where do I have to write to to apply to get a Q-card? I tried Googling, and I just can't find the address anywhere!

Alex, you're so out of the loop! Madonna had the sound of a clock ticking on "Hung Up," but she actually says

AJ, you make a really good point about people's hesitancy to talk about money matters. I don't think this is just an LGBT thing. But truth be told, I talk with three of my friends about money matters all the time. We're all worried about how we're going to pay off our student loans. We all set a goal to pay off our credit card debt last year and supported one another while we did it. And we all want to know what you have to do to start saving for retirement. Sure, we're still twenty-somethings. But we also know that $25 a month set aside when you're in your 20's will accumulate into the millions by the time you retire.

One of my girls says that we need to invest in real estate. The market sucks right now, so it's good for buyers. Somehow, you start getting tax benefits when you own something. It could be the littlest piece of shit house or condo, but at least your name is on the deed, right?

I personally think that all government benefits associated with marriage (gay, straight, or otherwise) need to be abolished. Single heterosexual women are in a financial disadvantage, too, ya'll. They make less than men, but all those tax breaks are for married people. What about the gal who wants to stay fabulously single? Why should she be penalized?

I had written Joe several times and got no response. Figures! I just heard that he told everyone to move on and not expect an apology. Cool! I have been following the whole thing closely and have to say I can see the strategy and long term goals of HRC. The Trans-community is not part of the game plan, ENDA, anything, and frankly, the rest of the HRC clan is busy racing to a financial better “them”, not “me.”

I am busy too, looking for work, a job, one that has some kind of medical perks, like a band-aide and an aspirin. Things were fine working for the Federal Government until I transitioned. Then I was let go. You can be gay, but not a Tranny! Well, I pooled what I could and put it all on the line. The way down is a fast trip! Saw the lawyer last week and we can stop the wolves from hounding me. The bondsmen get shut off, and the paper all disappears. Swell! Hey it was all leveraged loans from the financial wizards anyway; greedy bastards get nothing! What a rip! I am moving to a better financial “me” by cashing in on “them.” Being an entrepreneur, busted, (84 cents in the bank), and knowing from my old days how to work cars and parts, well things are looking up.

I have my eye on a Beemer, also an SS350, and some other fancy iron. I found a great neighborhood and a swank place to drink coffee while I jot down possible marks, err…clients. Called my old buddies at my favorite Auto Salvage; they do a few hundred cars a day and can always use some help. So anyone want in? You can dial in and listen to Joe and that crap, or bring bag and iron to have some fun. Like, who has to wait seven days to get better life, I am rolling around Scott Circle and looks like an easy market. Even considering a franchise operation and have choice locations in other areas where employment for the Transgender is scarce. Most of the turd’s are busy doing a better “them” thing. Might even get some “me” chips on the way up, never know? Living on the street has its perks.

(Note: To law enforcement - This is of course a parody and not a solicitation for any criminal activity. Really, .... I mean it, ….. HONEST!)