Of all the LGBT-focused-financial-planners-whose-fathers-once-won-a-Super Bowl I’ve had as Quaz Q&As, David Rae is easily the most interesting.
But, truly, he’d be interesting were he living in a cardboard box eating vanilla ice cream. He’d be interesting had he settled down in Kansas City, Kansas. He’d be interesting were his favorite show the Yule Log.
See, while all people have interesting stories, some are just interesting.
That’s David Rae.
So I brought him here to Quaz Land because he is, truth be told, a certified financial planner who does focus on the LGBT community. And while that may well seem a tad niche, eh, it isn’t. He’s made this amazing career for himself—both behind a desk and in front of a camera—by helping (in large part, but not exclusively) a community that still finds itself unfairly marginalized and often shunned. In other words, he saw a need and merged empathy and intellect to attack it. I absolutely love that.
David Rae—you’ll never win a Super Bowl. But so what? You’ve been Quazed …
JEFF PEARLMAN: So David, you’re a Los Angeles-based certified financial planner with a focus on the LGBT community. And I wonder—what does that mean? What I mean is, do you feel gays and lesbians have different needs than straight folks? Is it about giving them a comfortable place? Explain, because I’m fascinated.
DAVID RAE: It may seem like the LGBT community has it all now that marriage equality is law of the land. It is true we face many of the same financial challenges as everyone else. As our community we do have our own set of challenges and likely some advantages. We can still be fired for being gay in some 30 states. Whereas I’d say not having kids allows many of use to have more money to spend on fun stuff. Or more time to advance our careers for that matter. On average Gay & Lesbian married couples make more money than heterosexual married couples. At the same time, we also well represented in portion of the county living in poverty.
At the very least financial planning for the LGBTQ community is about giving people a comfortable place to bare their deepest and darkest financial secrets. With marriage equality, the LGBT community has access to all the tools that many other married couples still ignore but can use to improve their finances. My specialty is officially “friends of the LGBT community” so clients really can be anyone. I have built quite a diverse client base across race, religion, sexual orientation and gender.
There are specific challenges that affect a larger portion of the LGBT community. We tend to live in cities that are located in more expensive parts of the country. Procreating is quite expensive in many cases. The current tax system is not particularly kind to double-income couples without kids. Additionally, many LGBT retirees still face going back into the closet in retirement or nursing homes.
I just get it in a way other people might not be able to. As a financial planner, I will judge you based on your finances, not your sexuality. At the very least, it lets people know I’m not some boring guy in a suit that is going to shame you for all that money you are spending at Starbucks.
J.P.: Very basic, blunt question: What are the biggest mistakes you see, financially? How are we screwing up?
D.R.: I think the most glaring mistake people make is confusing income with wealth. There are so many people across this country who are earning a great income but have nothing to show for it beyond a leased car or rented house. Those individuals are spending and spending on all the trappings of wealth. As a result, they never actually do the things necessary to actually become not poor, let alone become wealthy.
It’s not what you make but what you keep. You can still have a fabulous lifestyle while saving in order to achieve financial security. However, you have to start saving sooner rather than later. Let compounding interest work its magic. Even small amounts of saving will add up over time.
Most of my childhood memories are after my father retired from playing professional football. I really was taught that money has to last. There was money to go around, but it wasn’t some unlimited or renewable resource. Today, that isn’t the case for a lot of Americans. A lot of people are on the treadmill of earning more and more so they can buy more and more stuff. Spending money faster than they can earn it.
Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy spending money but I make sure I spend it wisely and get value from my hard-earned dollars. Skimping in certain areas allows me to travel and go out to dinner with friends on a more frequent basis. Don’t be surprised if you see me pull out a coupon at the grocery store.
J.P.: You’re the son of Mike Rae, the former USC, NFL and USFL quarterback. And while he retired long ago, I do have a cliched tough guy view of football players from that era. So, I wonder—how was your dad when you came out? Your family? And how did you actually come out?
D.R.: Long before I came out, my family and I knew I wasn’t going to follow in his footsteps unless I had a special knack for kicking. I’m athletic but not big enough to really have any chance playing as a QB at a school like USC or in the NFL. For a soccer player, I’m rough and tuff. That isn’t the case on the football field when linebacker, twice my size, is coming at me. Although, I did play football in high school and that was enough for me.
As far as coming out, my father handled it well. I have no doubt that he probably made some assumptions about my sexuality before I actually told him I was gay. I edged out of the closet shortly after high and it was my year abroad in college (semesters in Salzburg and Vienna) when I really came into my own. It was my time to be away from family, free to run around and have fun. It was the first time I was on my own. Being away from home allowed me to explore Europe, learn about new cultures and more about myself. It also gave my parents time to “deal with it”
For me, the thought of coming out was terrifying. But I began to realize a lot of people knew someone who was gay. As it turned out, I have a gay cousin and my grandmother’s best friend has a gay son. I’ve met people my father played football with who are (now) gay or have gay kids or family members. Perhaps that helped my parents understand and accept me. I hope time has made it easier for my parents, who of course only want the best for me. I’ve had some amazing opportunities and experiences in my life, many of which would not have happened if I was straight, raising kids in the suburbs.
J.P.: Everyone on the right keeps raving about “the Trump economy.” What are you seeing? Does he deserve any credit? All credit? No credit?
D.R.: I’d like to point out that Trump inherited a booming economy, from President Obama, when he took office. As a Republican president, he believes in deregulation and lower taxes, especially for corporations. That makes big businesses happy and tends to instill confidence in investors, which can be good for the stock market. While it seems like he enjoys taking credit for all the good, it also seems like he always points his finger at others when things go poorly. As I write this, the stock market is down more than 1,300 points in two days. I think Trump gets credit for some of that but true to fashion, he blamed the Federal Reserve and the decision to raise interest rates.
The Trump economy is something I’ve discussed across the news spectrum—Fox and Friends, Nightline, NBC Nightly News. I’ve referred to one of his books as “The Shart of the Deal”—I think we will be paying for his policies, and supposed tax cuts, for the rest of our lives. The mood of the economy has improved under Trump. I’ll give him props for that. However, I think what he has done can be compared to those people, at the bar, buying shots on a credit card. I’m sure they feel great in the moment and for a while thereafter, but then the morning rolls around and they feel like crap. Once they recover from their hangovers, they end up paying those credit cards bills well into the future.
While corporations, and some individuals, will see their taxes go down this year, mine will be increasing dramatically. I’d be fine with that if my tax dollars were going to be applied to something useful. Unfortunately, I don’t anticipate that will happen. Also, I think many of his supporters are going to be harmed by his policies at some point.
Since we’re on the subject of politics, I should point out that advisors are typically advised to avoid all discussions of politics. I recently attended a conference that dedicated an entire session to that topic. I may agree in certain situations. But as Gay Financial Planner in Los Angeles—let’s be realistic. Who am I going to scare away by putting a picture of me, with Michelle Obama at The White House, on my website?
J.P.: You recently wrote a piece, “5 Reasons to Ignore Stock Market Forecasts.” Which was smart and insightful—but also a bit bewildering. If you should ignore stock market forecasts, how in the world do we know what to do?
D.R.: Thanks for reading that piece. The point I wanted to convey was that people should invest for their specific financial goals for the long term. My advice is to ignore the 24-hour news cycle. What some person says on CNBC about what the stock market will do tomorrow has nothing to do with your retirement account, or you child’s college account for that matter. You can give yourself whiplash watching the market go up and down throughout the day. That being said, if you skip the stock market, you have literally no chance of being able to save enough money to provide a secure standard of living in your golden years. In my (expert) opinion, the risk of not investing is much greater than the risk of the overall stock market.
Average Americans (with some money to invest) need to find one source or person they trust to help them build well-diversified portfolios. People should invest money, automatically and on a regular basis, and let it do its thing. It’s also a good idea to check in once a year and rebalance, if needed, etc.
Google just about any financial topic and you will find an overwhelming amount of information. Each topic almost always has an argument for and an argument against some strategy, viewpoint, etc. Is the market going up? Yes. Is the market going down? Yes. You will drive yourself nuts. Also, the more you mess with your investments, the worse you will do over time. Often times people end up owing more taxes, paying more fees and increasing their chances of making an idiotic mistake. By hiring me, people are able to reduce their financial stress and go back to whatever makes them happy. I’m a money nerd and love this stuff, but most people hate it.
J.P.: You’ve emerged as this media guy—for lack of a better word. Which fascinates me. How? Like, there are thousands upon thousands of CFPs around the nation. Very few are as publicly present as you. How did this happen? Why? What was your first media gig? And how does it impact your career?
D.R.: My first big media gig was writing for the national LGBT magazine, The Advocate, covering serious topics like gay marriage to writing articles with humorous angles such as the Golden Girls and whether or not your gay friend will leave you broke. Doing so allowed me to cement my name as the go-to LGBT financial planner, which led to regularly contributing to The Huffington Post, and currently, Forbes.com.
I enjoy writing, but I really love going on camera. Because finances can be really dry and boring, I try to inject a fresh and fun voice into the financial jargon. Believe it or not, my first big national news segment was on Fox and Friends talking Hillary versus Donald, and their tax plans, during the presidential election. Before that, I’d done every LA news channel and some shows on Bravo.
Standing out from crowd (and being an expert) means I get asked back time and time again. So often you watch people only giving facts and figures which can be overwhelming, down-right boring, and unnecessary in order for a lot of people looking to make smarter financial decisions. By making things fun, and injecting some humor into the conversation, I seem to stay top-of-mind when shows are looking for guests. Who knows? Maybe all of my TV success stems from my gay genes and just dressing better. If nothing else, adding a little flair to finances helps people take notice.
As far as my career, media and TV has been huge. I know many of my clients enjoy seeing me on TV. It also frees up a lot of time because I now have videos of segments where I talk about almost every client question I could ever receive. People come in ready to act and ready to hire me.
I may a point to not sound or act like the other million financial advisors out there. All this media just gives me a bigger soapbox to convey smart money moves to the masses. While attracts some great clients from across the country along the way.
J.P.: You write a piece for Forbes headlined, WHAT WOULD YOU PAY FOR EXTRA YEARS OF PERFECT HEALTH. It was riveting stuff, and included this paragraph: “Money can’t necessarily buy you a long and healthy life, but it doesn’t hurt. There is about a 10-year difference in life expectancy between the top one percent of women and the bottom one percent according to the American Medical Association. For men, the gap is even wider at 15 years. Based on that statistic it seems men need to work on becoming rich.” And I wonder—does this at all infuriate you? Because it strikes me as such bullshit, the way greed actually pays off in yet another way.
D.R.: I could go on all day about healthcare in this country and what it costs compared to other countries. That being said, you don’t have to be uber-rich in order to make healthier choices throughout your life that will help eliminate, or minimize, many of the most expensive medical costs throughout life.
There are a bunch of ways that the middle class can take steps to extend their lives. Eating healthier, regularly exercising and receiving recommended medical screenings based on your age could make a huge difference. Many cancers are highly treatable if caught early. Of course, all of that is easier when you have more money, but you don’t have to be a one percenter.
Personally, I think my choices to stay active, and watch what I eat, will have much more to do with how long I live compared to my net worth. That being said, my great-grandfather drank and smoked – and still lived to the age of 99. My dad is as healthy as a horse, so I’m planning on being around for some time. This body has to last a long time, so I better take care of it.
J.P.: Totally random, but I have little hope for the future. I see Trump, rising oceans, rising temperatures, tribalism, on and on. So … do you? Are you at all optimistic?
D.R.: The future is looking bleak in many ways, and we can’t 100 percent blame Mr. Trump for that. Although, he pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement and continues to ignore/doubt the scientific evidence of climate change including the most-recent climate report lead by 91 scientists, from 40 countries, who reviewed more than 6,000 studies.
At the same time, I try to maintain a positive attitude and be realistic about what I can do to combat ruining our planet. I’ve shifted to a mostly plant-based diet as scientific evidence has shown plant-based diets are likely to help combat climate change. Additionally, when shopping, I look for brands who have made it their missions to approach business in ethical ways that consider both people and the planet. Simply sitting at home and waiting for the world to end won’t help anything. I also don’t think building a bunker will help. If you have a bunker, and it gives you peace of mind, then good for you.
As I mentioned earlier, I’m expecting to live a long time. Perhaps I will eventually have a waterfront home if climate change continues to worsen. There is no doubt in my mind that we all will face some major challenges in the coming decades. While civilizations have crashed in the past, humanity managed to survive and thrive. Only time will tell.
J.P.: I’m gonna ask you a strange one. You’re married. And I still think, to a certain degree, a segment of people respond awkwardly (slightly or otherwise) when a man introduces “my husband” or a woman does so for “my wife.” Do you ever sense that? Do you ever feel that? Does it/did it bother you? Or does my entire question sound very 1998?
D.R.: I may live in a bubble where people either don’t care or don’t notice. From time to time, I do surprise some people with the news that my spouse is a man. I don’t have time to worry about it. If people don’t like it, it’s their problem. Most people I run into these days have a positive response, or at least keep negative responses to themselves.
J.P.: Your dad played in the USFL—a league I just wrote about in book form. So, growing up, how aware of the league were you? Do you have any memories about it? Does your dad look back fondly? Angrily? Oddly?
D.R.: I wasn’t even born when he played in Super Bowl XI for the Raiders. My only real memories of my father playing football are when he was in the USFL. I was still very young, just starting school, when the league folded. I remember taking a trip out (I grew up in Orange County, CA) to see my dad during the ‘84 season when he played for the Michigan Panthers. Pretty much all I remember was running around the Pontiac Silverdome during a practice.
I also remember when he played for the LA Express and that the locker room at the Memorial Coliseum was stocked with small Cokes and vitamin C. I can specifically recall one game he played there. From what I’ve been told, it was the longest football game ever. The Michigan Panthers played the LA Express and the game had several overtimes. My mom says we left the game, went to the museum across the street, returned to Memorial Coliseum and the game still went over forever. In your book, I think you said like only 7,900 people showed, and I’m sure there were even less by the end.
If I had to guess, I’d say my dad looks back at it oddly. He is better known for his time at USC and when he played for the Raiders. I think he was in his 30s by the time he was playing in the USFL and wise enough to appreciate the positives of the league and still being able to play given his age at the time. Also, having played in the NFL previously, I’m sure he was aware of some of the shortcomings, cheapness and budget constraints of the USFL referenced in your book.
After reading your book, I now blame Donald Trump, and a few others, for putting my dad and his friends out of work. Thanks to you Jeff for trying to … Make the USFL great again!!!!
QUAZ EXPRESS WITH DAVID RAE:
• How did you meet your husband?: On a cruise to Mexico. What are the odds? You could say it was meant to be. We’ve been together nine years, married for a little more than four year. We were married at Sonny & Cher’s old house in Palm Springs.
• Rank in order (favorite to least): Tom Ramsey, cargo shorts, The Lego Movie, ducks quacking outside your window, “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” the Chargers in Los Angeles, cold brew with almond milk, Herschel Walker, Portland, the iPhone, Wanda Sykes, Lee Jeans: The iPhone, Wanda Sykes, cold brew with almond milk, “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy”, ducks quacking outside your window, the Chargers in Los Angeles, Portland, Herschel Walker, Lee Jeans, cargo shorts, The Lego Movie. I put Tom Ramsey last as he is the third favorite of the quarterbacks my dad played with in the USFL. (behind Steve Young and Bobby Hebert.
• Three memories from your first-ever date: A movie, sweaty palms, making out.
• Who wins in a 12-round boxing match between you and Mike Pence. What’s the outcome?: Hahaha … If I answer this, will the Secret Service show up at my door? I’m pretty confident I’d win if “Mother” doesn’t step in.
I’d be more concerned about boxing Trump, he has professional wrestling experience. Someone I’m confident I’d get hit over the head with a chair by Jared or Ivanka. Trump would claim the greatest boxing victory ever.
• What happens after we die?: I’m going to be cremated and spread somewhere fun.
• Best advice you’ve ever received: Someone a long time ago advised me to be the Financial Planner who happens to be gay rather than the Gay Financial Planner. A small distinction, but it has served me well over the years.
• Six adjectives you would apply to your car: Dependable, Hybrid, Paid-Off, Comfortable, Maroon, Long
• What’s the best smell in the world? Worst?: I love the smell of fresh, hot garlic bread. Bad breath is the worst. I want to talk to you, but if your breath stinks, I’m out.
• In exactly 14 words, make a Hollywood Walk of Fame star argument for Zac Efron: Have you seen his abs in Baywatch? All eight of them deserve a star.
• My son told me the other day he’ll no longer be trick o’ treating with us. Can the wife and I trick o’ treat on our own? We’re both 46: Your book is a best seller, just go buy all the candy you want. If you want to dress up, go to the Festival in West Hollywood, with hundreds of thousands of other people around our age, and even a few kids mixed in.