Queercents, we bring you this blog by Jennifer Flink.
What are your values? How about your financial
values? Are they queer? Or just, you know, sensible?
I’ve been thinking a lot, during these sleepless nights of new
parenthood, about all the values I want to transmit to my daughter.
I know she’ll eventually forge her own—hopefully not in
diametrical opposition to mine!—but I hope I’ll at least give
her a solid foundation on which to build her own ideological home.
(I’m also in the process of moving, so forgive all the house
As I jotted down some of my financial values, it occurred to me
that many of these are informed by my experiences, identity, and
ethics as a queer person. Others seem more universal. So here’s
my highly opinionated, completely non-objective, utterly personal
list of Fink Family Financial Values. What about your financial
values? Are they ‘queered’ in some way by your experiences or
values as an LGBTQ person?
1) Create and maintain financial independence.
Sweetie, here’s the scoop: don’t rely on a partner, a parent
(ahem), or any other external source.
Don’t debt. “Compound interest is the most powerful force
in the universe,” said Albert Einstein. Indeedy.
It’s difficult to maintain self-determination if you are
dependent, in debt, or in denial about your finances. As a queer
woman, I think it’s especially important to model independence
and self-determination for my daughter. I see women—queer and
straight—so often victimized by their learned helplessness and
economic dependence. As a queer, however, I do feel like I’ve got
a bit of critical distance from those tired old gender roles that
create such profound inequality, and ultimately harm people of all
Financial independence, I will tell my daughter, is different from
wealth. I want my daughter to pursue her passions, regardless of
whether or not they lead to the big bucks. Of course some
professions pay much better than others, but with planning, one can
independence regardless of one’s income. I’ve known
solvent, happy, financially independent performance artists, and
investment bankers who are well into their second bankruptcy, third
foreclosure, and fourth round of camping on their parents’
2) Money is a tool for social change. So use it to
change the world, one carefully spent buck at a time.
In our capitalistic society, we do indeed vote with our dollars. So
I try to support only those companies whose ethics align with mine.
Fair wages, non-discrimination policies, and concern for their
environmental impact top my list. I’m sure yours is slightly
different, and I’ll bet my daughter’s will be, too. I neither
expect nor want my kid to have the exact same ethics and politics
as I do; that would make for boring dinner conversations. I do hope
that she understands that her money is a powerful force, and that
she should try to use it in a mindful, positive fashion. Again, I
think being queer has something to do with my attitudes about this;
I started by scrutinizing corporate
policies regarding LGBTQ folks (is anyone out there old enough
to remember the Coors boycott?), and this led me to look at other
issues, and to use my bucks as a consumer for what I perceive as
the common good.
3) Money is silly.
No, that’s not a typo; I am writing—on a personal finance blog,
no less—that money is silly. Think about it: coins of metal,
little pieces of green paper, plastic cards: that’s all it
When I was a kid, I used to play with my dad’s poker pennies,
giving each penny a name, job, and tragic story. Romances between
older and younger coins were all too common. Coins seemed so
magical, talismanic, mysterious. What the hell is money, anyway? It
stands in for all of our ideas about value, exchange, and power.
Money is the ultimate metaphor, a true abstraction.
And yet, as those of us who have ever skipped a mortgage payment
know, it’s also really….real. It has this odd force
precisely because its value is representational. A dollar is worth
something not because the paper it’s printed on is actually worth
a dollar, but because of its exchange value, its ability to
purchase a dollar’s worth of whatever.
As a writer, I love the force of metaphor, the power of abstraction
to create meaning and value. As a queer, I bring a camp, playful
sensibility to the whole enterprise. I hope my daughter not only
understands the grave importance of fiscal responsibility, but the
playful, absurd, and wonderfully human quality of money. And I have
a sack of coins from all around the world for her to play with.
Okay, so that’s my list. What’s yours?