5 Financial Tips for the Lesbians
No doubt you’ve heard the news that the United States is in a bit of a recession. But that doesn’t mean you have to make a run on the banks or start stuffing a mattress with your hard earned cash. Entrepreneur, consultant and LGBT mentor Jennifer Brown juggles her own business, extensive contributions to her community and maintains a healthy relationship with her partner of 11 years. From her own experience, Brown offers up her top five business, financial and life tips.
1. Procrastination is the enemy of financial planning.
Due to the fewer rights allotted to gay couples, financial planning is one of the most important ways to protect your partner and estate in the event of your death. Because of this, Brown also cites the importance of coming out to those who would help you with your affairs, such as a lawyer. “If there’s no one you can totally feel comfortable with being really honest, that results in procrastination,” she says.
2. Investing is pivotal, so take charge!
“We have to invest money,” says Brown. “There’s just no way around it.” Brown urges lesbians, especially younger ones that social security may be a thing of the past and can no longer be relied upon. Instead, find ways to generate what Brown calls “passive income,” it can be the staple of your nest egg. “It is the making ‘money while you sleep’ concept,” says Brown.
3. Don’t be shy. Get out there and network.
Brown, who does not traditionally advertise her services, says she relies mostly on networking to promote her business. “I just network constantly,” she says. “You never know where anything will lead.” Also, reaching out to your hetero counterparts is important. And don’t rule out the men. “I can’t tell you the number of lesbians whose mentors were straight men who believed in them,” she says. “It’s incredible.” Brown also sees mentoring as not only personally fulfilling, but a form of promotion as well. “If you have quality mentees,” she explains, “they make you look great. Good talent is hard to find, period.”
4. Join a local gay chamber of commerce.
You don’t have to be a business owner to reap the benefits of a gay chamber of commerce. “Chambers of commerce meetings are attended not just by entrepreneurs but also by corporate sponsors,” says Brown. “Obviously, you should be networking with those people…because you are a candidate for them.”
5. Avoid “lesbian burnout.”
All women, particularly lesbians, are at risk of overloading their plates and losing steam along the way. With the pressures of proving yourself in the business world and perhaps being a voice for the community, lesbian businesswomen often feel the crunch. “Lesbian executives I know, if they're out, sign up to be the poster child for their employers,” says Brown. The key, she explains, is “knowing yourself and knowing what charges your battery.” She also recommends trying to fill your day with rewarding activities. “There’s a lot of time where you might feel you are not good at doing what you are doing,” says Brown. “Be sure to fit in tasks that you do feel great at. Ask yourself, ‘Where can I shine?’ When you shine, other people notice.”