As seminary staff, synod staff, or a member of a candidacy committee, you are active in the process of raising up and developing new leaders and have the unique ability to influence those exploring call. Through this role, you may encounter students and inquirers who have questions or concerns about issues of financial wellness. Likewise, you may have questions or concerns about the financial wellness of students and inquirers.
You have partners in the financial counselors at Lutheran Social Service (LSS) Financial Counseling who can help you and those exploring call navigate these issues and encourage financial wellness.
Lutheran Social Service Financial Counseling
If you work with those exploring call (candidates, seminarians not in candidacy, applicants and inquirers), you are strongly encouraged to provide them with information about financial counseling through LSS Financial Counseling and urge them to participate. Financial counseling allows for open conversations about financial wellness and financial literacy.
LSS Financial Counseling offers a full range of financial services that empower people to conquer their debt through tangible steps and personal guidance.
LSS financial counselors help individuals, couples and families with:
- Consolidating debt
A Debt Management Plan (DMP) consolidates your monthly bills into one simple payment—often with a lower interest rate.
- Establishing a budget
Financial counselors help those exploring call develop a budget and a plan of action for debt payment based on your individual situation.
- Improving your credit score
Financial counselors help those exploring call understand your credit reports and put you on a path to a debt-free future.
- Protecting your home
Financial counselors help assess your options—whether the issue is making mortgage payments, considering refinancing or a reverse mortgage, or even buying a home.
- Tackling student loan debt
Financial counselors help students and inquirers navigate the repayments options for federal, state, and private loans, determine your individual eligibility, contact lenders, and develop a personalized action plan that considers their personal financial situation.
- Achieving financial wellness
Financial counselors help students and inquirers create a unique plan to strengthen their financial leadership for themselves and to help others. Financial wellness is for everyone!
Details and FAQs
Most simply stated, financial counseling is appropriate whenever someone exploring call has a question about finances. These questions may cover a variety of topics related to budgeting, borrowing, credit or debt.
An easy way to begin a discussion about financial counseling is by using the flow chart titled “How can financial counseling help me achieve financial wellness?”
For many students and inquirers who might not otherwise consider financial counseling, the flow chart serves as a reminder that times of transition are particularly appropriate times to consult with a financial counselor. For example, before starting seminary, a financial counselor can help someone exploring call think about what it will mean to live on one (or in some cases, no) household income. Additionally, as a student – and potentially his or her family – prepares for a year of congregational internship, a financial counselor may be able to provide advice on reducing moving costs or living on less. Finally, as a student prepares to graduate from seminary, a financial counselor may be able to provide helpful ideas on how to effectively budget while anticipating his or her first call.
In addition to asking questions about a student’s or inquirer’s personal financial situation, the reverse side of the flow chart provides a number of frequently asked questions about financial counseling.
Those exploring call, as well as rostered ministers and their spouses are eligible for up to six free confidential sessions with an expert financial counselor through Financial Choice, a service of LSS Financial Counseling, provided by Portico Benefit Services.
Yes. At the end of the first session, the financial counselor will provide the student or inquirer with his or her direct telephone line.
If the student or inquirer has had a bad experience with financial advising or coaching relationships in the past, how will this be different?
Financial counselors understand that many individuals bring feelings of shame or discouragement about their financial situations into a counseling session. The financial counselor will work with the individual to alleviate these feelings; they know it takes a lot of courage to make the call to a financial counselor. Financial counselors believe that the most successful approach in working with those exploring call is as members of the same team.
The first step to an effective referral is an initial discussion of financial wellness. You could start this discussion using the flow chart titled “How can financial counseling help me achieve financial wellness?”. Alternatively, you could use the infographic titled “Achieve Financial Wellness”. The infographic states the case for financial counseling and indicates how to begin participating.
To increase the likelihood that someone exploring call will participate in financial counseling, you are encouraged to make the first call with the student or inquirer. LSS financial counselors indicated that the most effective referrals involve a three-way call among LSS Financial Counseling, the person exploring call and someone in your position (a bishop, synod staff person, candidacy committee member or seminary faculty or staff). This type of referral provides a soft handoff to LSS Financial Counseling, as well as indicates that no student or inquirer is alone in the process, but rather that partners provide accompaniment throughout.
To complete this three-way call, you together with the student or inquirer should call LSS Financial Counseling at 800-528-2926. This first call is to set up a financial counseling appointment, not to have a financial counseling session. The financial counseling appointment will be set for a future date, in most cases, in two days or less.
You can best help students and inquirers prepare for their financial counseling appointment by working with them to generate a list of topics of concern or what they hope to achieve in financial counseling.
Financial counseling sessions last for one hour and are completely driven by the financial needs and questions of the student or inquirer. A financial counselor will begin the first session by asking, “What are you looking for?” “What has been going on in your life financially?” and “Where do you want to be financially?”
The financial counselor will then work with the individual to address his or her financial concerns. This may involve going through a credit report, discussing debt repayment options or reviewing budgeting techniques. What is discussed will depend on the individual’s specific concerns.
At the end of each session, the financial counselor will provide the students or inquirer with a specific action plan. This plan is unique to him or her and seeks to address the issues raised during the session. The student or inquirer may set an appointment right then with the counselor to review progress on the action plan, or he or she may call the financial counselor again to review the plan.