It probably doesn't happen as much as you’d like, but from time to time, you have some extra disposable income. When this happens, how should you use the funds? Assuming you have adequate emergency savings — typically, three to six months' worth of living expenses — should you pay off debts or fund your IRA or another investment account?
There's no one “correct" answer — and the priority of these options may change, depending on your financial goals. However, your first step may be to consider what type of debt you're thinking of paying down with your extra money. For example, if you have a consumer loan that charges a high rate of interest — and you can’t deduct the interest payments from your taxes — you might conclude that it's a good idea to get rid of this loan as quickly as possible.
Still, if the loan is relatively small, and the payments aren't really impinging on your monthly cash flow that much, you might want to consider putting any extra money you have into an investment that has the potential to offer longer-term benefits. For instance, you might decide to fully fund your IRA for the year before tackling minor debts. (In 2014, you can contribute up to $5,500 to a traditional or Roth IRA, or $6,500 if you’re 50 or older.)
When it comes to making extra mortgage payments, however, the picture is more complicated. In the first place, mortgage interest is typically tax deductible, which makes your loan less "expensive." Even beyond the issue of deductibility, you may instinctively feel that it's best to whittle away your mortgage and build as much equity as possible in your home. But is that always a smart move?
A video that alleges to show a self-proclaimed Christian family's reaction to their son, "Daniel," coming out offers a chilling first-hand look at the violence and rejection that can result when parents don't accept their child's sexual orientation.
The video, which claims to be secretly recorded on what appears to be a cell phone, captures the hateful reaction of a family after a child confirms to his parents that he is gay.
The video appears to capture a conversation that was already in progress, and shows the young man's family members citing Biblical opposition to homosexuality before telling the child he must move out of the home, disowning him, calling him a "disgrace," then turning physically violent as a confrontation ensues.
A woman who appears to be the child's mother begins by telling the young man that she has known since he was a small child that he was gay. Nevertheless, the woman tells her son that she believes he has made a choice to be gay, that it is "a path chosen". When he tries to refute her claims by pointing to "scientific proof" that sexual orientation is innate, she says she believes in "the word of God," not so-called science.
It all started back in 2006. My son was a year-and-a-half old and I knew that he'd be our only child. I was fine with this—I'd only ever wanted one child. What I wasn't prepared for was the desire to be pregnant again. My pregnancy wasn't perfect. It had its ups and downs, but overall it was amazing. The concept of having a life in you, sustaining that life with yours; it's simply incredible. For us though, it wasn't going to happen again. But did it have to be the end? I saw online, the word "surrogate." I wondered what that meant and did a lot of research about it. I found out that I'd have no genetic ties (as a gestational surrogate) to the baby. I could do that. It's not like I wanted a baby, I just enjoyed the pregnancy part. I wasn't going to be using my uterus for anything else now, why not give someone else a chance at the wonderful gift a baby can bring? I talked it over with my fiancée and he was supportive. He knows that when I do things, I make sure to do my "homework". He fully trusted my decision. So I contacted an agency. Sadly, it wasn't my time yet. My son was still nursing and I planned on self-weaning, so I had to wait. I would soon learn that "hurry up and wait" is a common term in the surrogacy world.
My son was done nursing about a year later, so I contacted the agency again. They were more than happy to help me and I got started on everything I needed to do. I filled out lots of paperwork, flew down to the clinic to be examined and tested, and had psychological testing done. After I was cleared, they gave me profiles of potential intended parents (IP's) to check out. Here comes the hard part. In the surrogacy world, there are many different people who need the use of a surrogate. Which one would I choose? While I didn't have a particular type in mind, I seem to gravitate towards gay men more than others, or maybe it was the agency and the profiles they were showing me? Either way, I was just fine with it. I picked out a set of IP's and we set up a match meeting. We met and we both loved each other- I wanted to help them. Unfortunately, it's never that easy. In surrogacy there are so many ways for things to go wrong. In our case, the embryos were just never good enough to continue growing. Three unsuccessful transfers later, we parted ways. The agency decided to part ways with me too. It wasn't me, they said, it was that no IP's wanted me. I felt like damaged goods. It took some time to get over what happened. It took me talking to others and understanding genetics a little better. I had to realize that it wasn't me. I was not the problem, it was the embryos. I decided to move forward.
At this point, I wanted to help more than ever. I tried signing up with a few different agencies but they all turned me down because of my past. Three failed transfers are not good for the reputation, even when they know it's not your fault. I can't blame them- IP's put a lot of money into this process and they want something that works. I decided to post an ad on a surrogacy forum. It worked. I met and was matched with a wonderful couple. Their situation was a little different. They wanted to co-parent, a gay man and his best friend (a woman). They were both so sweet and caring; I knew their baby would be loved. Life seems to like to throw me curve balls though and once again, we had a failed transfer. It was embryo quality striking again, but this time it was due to age. We all knew it might happen, but when you are in surrogacy, you always hope for the best. We only had that one transfer and the intended mother (best friend) decided not to move forward. After a few months of thinking about it, although the intended father wanted to move forward with an egg donor, he also decided this wasn't the right time for him.
So, I was at a loss again. I had to decide if I truly wanted to continue or just stop. A lot of surrogates in my shoes would have given up. That's definitely a lot of loss to take and it really does start to hurt your self-esteem. You second guess yourself and your body. I knew it wasn't me though. My body was fine. I knew I could do it. I placed another ad and received some emails from different agencies and people. Nothing seemed like the right fit. One day I received the email I'd been waiting for. It was from two gay men who were married and had decided that they wanted a baby together. Their email was funny and sarcastic, just my type of humor. They were perfect. We all met for lunch, to get to know each other a little better and we decided to work together. I knew this time would be different. And it was.
Our relationship was amazing. It was like we'd been friends for forever. We all decided working with an agency was the best and quickest option to get things moving along. And we did things fast! From match meeting to transfer was a quick four months, and only that long because the egg donor contract took a little longer than it should have. The guys decided that the best course of action was to get the embryos genetically tested. Why waste money on multiple transfers when you can know fairly quickly which ones will most likely work and which ones won't? It was brilliant. We transferred one beautiful boy embryo and after 5 long years of failure, I was pregnant.
Some women go into surrogacy knowing that they want a "business" type relationship, some women want a friendship. I was the latter. My guys didn't fail me. There wasn't a day that went by that I didn't hear from them. A simple hi, a joke or talking about life in general- we talked all the time. I was always keeping them updated about the progress of the pregnancy and they were able to come up to a few appointments throughout the 9 months. I got to visit them for an ultrasound and baby showers. We had fun getting to know each other and getting to know their son.
At 40 weeks and four days, they got to meet their son. He was like a perfect puzzle piece to fit in their family. They took to fatherhood well and enjoyed every moment. It was the best feeling ever for me. I'm proud I was able to help them with their dream, and they also helped me with mine. We still talk, not daily, but as often as they can. I see updates on Facebook about their son and I've been to visit a few times. His first birthday has come and gone and he is growing up to be the happiest toddler. Being able to see their family and know that I played a part in that happiness is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. Now I'm excited to be on the path to help create another family.
Coming out is a right of passage for gay men and women — an experience as nearly universal as it is unique for each person. The process invariably began with the moment where the journey from self-discovery to self-awareness finally coalesces in self-acceptance and the readiness to speak the words. It began the first time we spoke the phrase “I’m gay” aloud to another human being.
Despite the shared experience, the nature of the journey is specific to each of us. Coming out stories run the gamut from those who kicked the closet door off its hinges in six-inch platform stilettos to those who cracked the door open just far enough to let in those nearest and dearest. A nearly infinite number of factors impact how we do it, when we do it, the words we choose, the people we share with and the choices we make once we were received.
That moment draws a line through our lives when our personal timeline suddenly has “Before Gay” and “After Gay” — our own internal birth which allows us to divide the important events, decisions and people on the calendar of our life by whether they happened B.G. or A.G. For the most fortunate among us, it’s a line in the sand. But when the fury of the coming out storm dies down, love and acceptance smooth the sand again and the line is gone. Before Gay and After Gay are one journey with events and people running continuously from one into the other.
Our thoughts go out to the friends and family of Blue Elijah Riggs, B.S.W. 53, of Emmett, Idaho, formerly of Fresno, died Friday. A long time Transgender LGBT activist in Fresno and part of the original founding of Trans-E-Motion and leader in United Student Pride at Fresno State. A service/memorial is being planned in his honor, details will be posted as soon as they are available.