Large segments of the LGBT community struggle financially

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All joking aside, parts of the LGBT community are not as well off as we thought

“According to a recent report,” said Seth Meyers on the “Jokes Seth Can’t Tell” segment of “Late Night With Seth Meyers” in late 2017, “gay men earn more money than straight men. Because straight men work but gay men weeeeeeerrrrrkkkk.” Meyers was immediately (and jokingly) castigated by his writing staff and the world left pondering the questions at hand: Are gay men really making more money than straight men these days? And is the rest of the LGBT community financially better off, too?

2018 study shows LGBTs are more likely to overdraft at the bank than the general population.
2018 study shows LGBTs are more likely to overdraft at the bank than the general population.

Many reports have said that lesbians and gay men earn more than their hetreosexual counterparts. But, other studies show the elderly in the LGBT community are still more likely to be poor. A June 2013 study by The Williams Institute (a think tank conducting research on sexual orientation and gender identity law and policy) at the UCLA School of Law found that though “poverty rates for nearly all populations increased during the recession, LGB Americans remained more likely to be poor than heterosexual people.” Among the key findings of the study were that 7.6% of lesbian couples, compared to 5.7% of married different-sex couples, are in poverty and 14.1% of lesbian couples and 7.7% of gay male couples receive food stamps, compared to 6.5% of different-sex married couples.

An online web app set out to learn more about personal finance. Overdraft apps (dot) com specifically looked at how hard Americans are beset by overdraft fees. These are the fees incurred when a bank charges customers for letting them use more money than the customer actually has in the account.

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The study surveyed LGBT customers in 46 states
2018 study shows LGBTs are more likely to take a payday loan than the general population.
2018 study shows LGBTs are more likely to take a payday loan than the general population.

Having surveyed 1,009 people ages 18 to 71 from 46 states (excluding Wyoming, Vermont, Alaska and Hawaii), the study found both that overdrafts were quite common, and that there was a great deal of confusion around how and why they happen. As many as 46% of Americans said they had overdrafted at least once in the past year, and approximately 42% of respondents said they had overdrafted but didn’t realize it until later.

Among our objectives was looking at how the LGBT community was faring. 11% of respondents had self-identify-ied as LGBT. Corroborating evidence from the aforementioned studies, they found that income in the LGBT community is lower than that of the general population. While close to the same number of LGBT people (34%) and non-LGBTQ people (36%) make $25,000 to $50,000, the numbers are quite different at other income levels. Only 14% of the general population reported making less than $25,000, but exactly a fourth of the LGBT community, more than double the general population’s amount, reported making it. Approximately 32% of the general population reported earning $50,000 to $75,000 annually compared to 25% of the LGBT community.  And 16% of the general population reported earning $75,000 to $100,000. While only 12% of LGBT community reported earning the same.

2018 study shows LGBTs are more distrustful of government programs than the general population.
2018 study shows LGBTs are more distrustful of government programs than the general population.

Overdrafting behavior is also different in the LGBT community when compared to the general population. While 54% of the general population reports never overdrafting in the past year, 47% of those in the LGBT community can say the same. Only 12% of the general population has overdrafted between three and nine times in the past year. But 18% of the LGBT population has done so. However, when it comes to those who have overdrafted more than 10 times in the past year, there’s little difference: 5% of both communities have.

What did LGBT respondents in the survey do in case of an overdraft?

The LGBT community however seems to be more informed about overdrafting. 67% of those surveyed were aware that they could opt out of the activity compared to 61% of the general population. Fittingly, less of the of LGBT community reported having opted into overdraft protection (32%) than the general population (39%).

What did LGBT respondents in the survey do in case of an overdraft? While 58% of the general population has called to try to get their bank to reverse an overdraft fee, 52% of the LGBT population reported having done the same. Which may be indicative of something else. So, the study found that those in the LGBT community were more likely to feel taken advantage of than the general population. When asked if they’ve felt taken advantage of by the system, political or financial, 61% of LGBT respondents said that they often feel this way. That is compared to 51% of those not in the LGBT community.

When it comes to the current administration in Washington, as many as 90% of LGBT respondents said they don’t trust the current administration to help lower bank fees. That was compared to 76% of those outside the LGBT community. A whopping 94% of LGBT respondents do not believe President Trump, specifically, will help decrease bank fees, compared to 81% of those not in the community.

What items or services would a customer overdraft the account for?

Respondents were also asked if they knew they had to overdraft, was there a type of purchase they’d prefer to overdraft on? As many as 42% of the LGBT community prefered a transaction go through on groceries. That compared with 54% of the general population. When it comes to medical expenses, 46% of the LGBT community would prefer to pay an overdraft fee than get declined. That compared to 49% of the general population. And when it comes to overdrafting on clothes shopping, 24% of the LGBT community would prefer to overdraft. That is compared to 19% of the general population. The LGBT community is also more likely to take out a payday loan to cover an overdraft fee. 30% of the community has done so compared to 24% of the general population.

Finally, the study asked respondents what they’d do if they found $1,000. As many as 70% of LGBT people said they’d responsibly put it toward debt, compared to 60% of the general population. Only 18% of LGBT people said they’d save it, compared to 28% of the general population. This priority of tackling debt over building savings could indicate a higher debt load among LGBT people.

Click here to download the full report.