Money Talks | Sept. 9, 2014

By Melissa Myers and Michael J. Tucker, Sept. 9, 2014.

Melissa Myers: As a financial and retirement planner by profession, I speak with many people about … guess what?

Michael J. Tucker: Retirement planning?

Myers: Bingo!

Tucker: Do you notice any difference between the approaches that LGBT couples or individuals take with their retirement planning, as compared to straight clients?

Myers: Yes and no. Like most folks, LGBT Americans have a significant confidence gap regarding whether they will have enough money to last a lifetime.

Tucker: A leading retirement planning concern for most people is the rising cost of health care and long-term care.

Myers: That’s true, and surveys have shown that the LGBT community is more concerned about this than our straight counterparts.

Tucker: Perhaps, in general, we have fewer children to rely upon as we age. Alternatively, it could be that the unique health issues of the community lead to this concern.

Myers: One thing I have noted is that gay and lesbian people seem to have a more “creative” view of retirement than some of the straight people I have worked with.

Tucker: What do you mean by “creative?”

Myers: For example, I spoke with a gay couple recently that has decided that their retirement priority is to maximize their experiences. Rather than follow the traditional retirement path of sitting on a large amount of equity in their home and living in that house through retirement, they will sell their home and travel.

Tucker: You mean they won’t maintain a permanent address?

Myers: Right, they plan to live for up to a year at a time in places such as Mexico, South America and Europe, returning to the United States for short periods in between.

Tucker: Such couples accept calculated risks in this scenario. This concept of residing where they travel will require a sound financial plan.

Myers: Yes, it is nontraditional. Their income will come from investing the proceeds from the sale of their house (or downsizing to a smaller house), other assets they have accumulated and their Social Security income.

Tucker: If their portfolio decreases significantly in value, due to investment returns, it could change the picture entirely.

Myers: Indeed. Careful attention to investment risk levels will be paramount. Also, a plan like this could be derailed if there were a sudden need for a large amount of cash.

Tucker: For anyone using a lump sum to create income, and planning to nurse that income stream along for many years, it’s important to maintain discipline and avoid any changes in planning or big purchases.

Myers: I agree. Some clients make big discretionary spending decisions and then wrongly presume their remaining assets can be relied upon to generate the same income stream. This couple understands that if they access large chunks of their capital, they would likely have to change their plan.

Tucker: De-emphasizing home ownership in that way makes for a refreshing and interesting approach to retirement planning.

Myers: In my experience, the LGBT community seems a little more willing to explore other long-term possibilities. Perhaps we’ve been living nontraditional lifestyles for so long that we aren’t boxed in to traditional retirement.

Tucker: Could be. Whether you take a traditional approach to retirement planning or a more novel or creative approach, careful planning and discussion with your financial professions is an important step.

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