Money

Suze Orman to gay couples: There are more than 1,100 financially smart reasons to marry

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Suze Orman has some very direct advice for gay couples considering marriage: Do it now.

"Don't take (the right to be married) for granted, because this administration could absolutely take it away," she says. "If I were you, I would do it now, rather than wait."

Orman, who married partner Kathy Travis in 2010, also stresses the financial benefits — approximately 1,100 of them, she says — of tying the knot.

"You have to be crazy if you are in a relationship where you feel like you are already married to not legally be married," Orman told USA TODAY in a recent interview.

The tax, health care, retirement and other benefits "go on and on," Orman says. "'M' doesn't just stand for marriage, it also stands for 'money.'"

More from USA Today:
What to do when your child comes out as LGBTQ
LGBTQ definitions every good ally should know
'Born this way'? It's way more complicated than that

As part of our Pride Month coverage, USA TODAY reached out to Orman, an outspoken financial adviser, author and TV personality, to get her feedback on LGBT finances. Our questions and her insights (edited for clarity and length) are below.

The Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that states must recognize gay marriage. That's relatively recent. What should couples be aware of before exchanging vows?

You've got to pay attention to the financial habits of the person that you are with. Do they leave a seriously large tip when you go out to eat even though you know they have credit card debt? Can you even talk about how much debt they have, why do they have it and what is the interest rate?

And you should want to share your FICO scores with each other. Know what's really happening. FICO before sex. Because once you start getting intimate with one another, you are in a state of lust and that lust totally overtakes common sense.

What is so sad is that most people know everything about one another intimacy-wise before they get married — Do they leave the toilet seat up? Do they leave their bra on the handle of the bathroom door? Are they sloppy? Are they neat? — but they know nothing about financial intimacy. It's the one topic they are almost afraid to discuss. People say to me "but Suze, but it's so unromantic." Are you kidding me? It's the basis of your relationship.

So what's the downside of getting married?

With marriage can come divorce, and divorce can be very expensive. So everybody who gets married — whether they are straight or gay — should absolutely have a prenuptial agreement. The time when you plan for the worst of life is when you are in a state of love, not when you are in a state of hate. And you cannot do it on the way to the chapel. You should do it six months to one year before you are going to get married.

There are niche financial planners who say they cater to the LGBT consumer. Do those in the LGBT community need specialized planners?

Money doesn't have a sex, a religion or a race. You don't want the qualification for someone to advise you to be that they are gay. They are advising you about money. You want them to be the best financial adviser — no matter who they are.

Many gay couples go through IVF or adoption — which can both be expensive processes. What's your financial advice for couples who want to have kids?

A baby is going to cost you, during your lifetime, about a quarter of a million dollars. You better know if you can afford it. If you cannot afford now to pay your bills, invest fully in a retirement account, to be totally out of credit card debt, to own your cars outright and have an eight-month emergency fund, you financially are not in a position to have a baby. Because if you think money is tight now, just wait until that baby is there. Do not think that having a baby without money is going to be enjoyable.

What can those who are in the LGBT community do to fight back against discrimination — which can potentially affect pay and ability to move up at work?

Step up for what you want. Own the power to control your destiny. That is key. Because I was proud of who I am, I was never discriminated against because I was gay. The less self-worth you have, the less net worth you have. Power creates money. Powerless repels it.

How does money — or the lack of it — affect your self worth?

Money will never make you happy. But lack of money sure will make your miserable. And the thing that makes people feel powerless is debt, financial speaking. Debt is bondage. You will never be powerful in life until you are powerful over your own money — how you think about it, feel about it and how you invest it. And that is the bottom line whether you are gay, straight, transgender or bi. I don't give a damn who you are, that is the law of people and money.

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This story originally appeared on USA Today.