This is a guest post by Court from Modern FImly.
We are a lesbian family who reached financial independence in 2018 for our family of 3 at the ages of 32, 30, and 1. This means that we have saved and invested enough money in which our passive income produces enough money to cover our annual expenses for the rest of our lives. Essentially, work has become optional for us.
When our daughter was born in 2018, my wife, Nic, decided that after taking 18 months of Canada’s generous parental leave, she would no longer return to the hospital as an RN and instead become a stay at home mom (aka the hardest job in the world).
In 2019, I decided to transition to a part time role which allows me to be at home with my family 80% of the time. Life has always been about enjoying the ride along the way and not one of deprivation and grind, grind, grind in hopes that a new world will be presented to us once we reach this magical number indicating we’ve reached financial freedom.
And honestly, I don’t think I would have known this freedom if it weren’t for my coming out as gay.
Our journey to financial independence
We started opening up about our story back in 2019. While we are open with our sexual orientation, we’ve never really talked about it publicly on our blog as we didn’t think it mattered.
Over the past few months, more and more people have approached us asking about how our sexual orientation has shaped our lives and our finances. We decided to speak about this topic on a few podcasts, Queer Money and Earn & Invest, but we still have yet to put anything in writing until now, so here we go!
My LGBTQ+ Story
When I first discovered I liked girls, it was a very awkward part of my life where I did not feel comfortable inside my own skin. I was never ashamed of who I was and I knew I would have a very supportive family to come out to yet uttering the words “Hey mom, dad, I like girls” was way too frightening to me.
I put it off for years until I finally found the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. For whatever reason, I thought my life would take a 180 for the worse if I finally came clean with my big secret.
I slowly started telling a few friends about that first experience and/or future relationships. By coming out, I was able to freely be myself and not be judged. I was finally able to just be me. And that lingering thought of “what will their reaction be?” is no longer something I ever need to think about. Fast forward to my university years and I was living a full, out, and proud life.
By not overly thinking about this aspect of my life anymore, I was able to let those negative and stressful thoughts dissipate and instead enjoy life rather than be afraid of it. If someone didn’t approve of my lifestyle, they didn’t belong in my life anyway. I have many things to be grateful for in life and having a supportive network is definitely one of them.
RELATED: The Hidden Costs Of Being LGBTQ+
Being openly gay improved my personal finances
Because coming out alleviated many of my worries, I had more bandwidth available to focus on other things in life. Things such as personal finances.
I was feeling more and more comfortable with myself and consequently, gaining more confidence in all aspects of life. When I shifted away from the society’s relationship norms, it was easier for me to escape many of the other societal norms in life.
My sexual orientation and my coming out experience greatly shaped who I am and how I manage money
Not just for the obvious fact that I am married to another woman, but because it urged me to question many facets of life I may not have before coming out. I questioned myself for a long time and once I became comfortable in my own skin, those inward questions transformed into outward questions about life:
- Does working more and making more money really lead to more happiness?
- How do I become free of my $65K in student debt asap?
- What type of life do I want to live?
- How can I gamify life to maximize enjoyment but keep costs low?
- Do I really want to climb the corporate ladder?
- How do I quit my job to travel around the world for a year?
I’m already an “outcast” in society because of my sexual orientation, I felt much more comfortable thinking differently about societal norms in general
Is the “dream” of working hard, climbing the corporate ladder, buying a two story 3,000 square foot home with a white picket fence, having a boat/RV/ATV, driving fancy cars, taking exotic vacations, having 2 kids in private school, and retiring at 65+ really my dream or someone else’s?
Once I realized that this was not my dream life, I started questioning what my dream life would look like. A that point my dream life entailed having no debt and having the time and energy to pursue my passion of travel. I wanted to be in control of my money, not the other way around. So that’s what I focused on.
Within 2.5 years, I paid off $70K in student loan debt
I started to live frugally. I found free or low cost activities for entertainment (going to the beach, happy hours & potlucks with friends, free music concerts, using the gym in my complex, etc.) and focused my money towards aggressively paying off my debt.
Within 2.5 years, I paid off $70,000 in student loan debt ($65,000 student loans + $5,000 in interest). The next step was to save up for a down payment. Once I had saved enough for a 20% down payment, I purchased my first town house. Within 2.5 years of this purchase, the mortgage was paid off thanks to having 3 roommates paying way more than my monthly mortgage costs.
In 2012 I discovered Mr Money Mustache and the FIRE Movement. FIRE stands for Financial Independence Early Retirement. I knew I found my people within this movement and community. I also met my now wife and life is damn good.
The FIRE lifestyle is just what my LGBTQ family needed
We were already applying many of the FIRE principles of living below our means, saving a majority of our income, investing the rest, and more. But I didn’t realize there was a whole group of people who were also focused on this lifestyle.
Thanks to my sexual orientation, I questioned societal norms and realized the most important thing was to just be me. I didn’t have to live someone else’s life. I had to figure out who I was and how to design a happy life to my standards.
It is a societal norm to live an overworked life. I had to escape the mindset that you have to be a certain person to “make it”. You can’t be yourself if you are trying to be liked or fit in. You don’t need to prove anything to anyone else.
Regardless of your sexual orientation, you need to determine what a happy life means to you and to focus on that. My sexual orientation helped to create this mindset for me, and for that, I am thankful. Because this mindset is what lead me to a financially independent life. One that I may never have experience without embracing who I am.
Be authentic. Be yourself. There’s no point in being anyone but you.