A financial counselor can give you a fresh perspective about your financial status and help you create a specific action plan to address your unique financial goals.
As an ELCA retirement plan member, you and your immediate family have access — at no additional cost — to a range of financial counseling options provided by LSS Financial Counseling, a service of Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota. This nationally-recognized nonprofit organization can help you with a range of financial issues, including:
- Debt repayment options, including debt management plans (DMP)*
- Student loan issues including borrowing, repayment, default, and consolidation
- Understanding credit reports and improving credit scores
- Personal and family money management and budgeting
- Mortgage default, foreclosure prevention, and predatory lending
- Consumer protection and preventing and resolving identity theft
- Home buying readiness, mortgage financing, and reverse mortgages
- Vehicle and other consumer loans including borrowing, repayment, default, and repossession
- Bankruptcy consequences and alternatives
Counseling appointments generally span 45 – 60 minutes, and can be conducted via phone or online video. If you need more than one session, you can meet with the same financial counselor for up to six sessions annually. Counseling through LSS is also completely confidential; Portico does not receive any information about who uses the service, or why. To learn more and schedule a no-cost appointment with an LSS financial counselor, call 800.528.2926.
Small Step: Get Inspired to Start a Conversation
The following stories from actual members, who agreed to share their experiences with Portico, offer a glimpse of how a financial counselor could help you.
Pastor Adam went from discouraged to debt-free.
“At the point of my first counseling session, our finances were a mess; we had a lot of debt that felt out of control, and we carried a lot of shame with our inability to keep up with it or make any progress. As a result, I didn’t have any concrete goals because everything felt so messy. I guess, if anything, we just wanted to get some sort of organization and plan.
“What I got from our counselor was affirmation and assurance that we weren’t as far off as I was telling myself. After this, we went through our finances step-by-step and discovered what we could do to gain control and begin to achieve some of the goals that felt out of reach.
“We took one of the suggestions on using budgeting software and got to work. Within a year, we had paid off all of our debt, except our mortgage and student loans, and saved over a month’s salary in an emergency fund. We continue to struggle along the way and get discouraged, but not in the same way as before counseling. The most helpful thing we got from the counseling was confidence and control.
“We’ve since been able to change our lives in a significant way. We are so thankful to LSS for the encouragement and those first steps. I would encourage anyone who is feeling discouraged or overwhelmed to take the time to work with LSS Financial Counseling. At the least, it will make you feel better about where you’re at and, at the most, it might completely change the course of your financial situation and life.”
Pastors Erik and Amy keep their budget on-track.
For the past four years, Pastors Erik and Amy have met with a financial counselor from LSS Financial Counseling near the end of the year to review their budget. During the appointment, they review their income, current living expenses, outstanding debt, and discuss future goals. One of the driving factors in their budget is paying off student loan debt. Based on their goals and feedback from the financial counselor, “sometimes tweaks need to happen with spending.” Pastor Erik states, “It’s good to have a third set of eyes to make sure we are on track and doing what we need to do.”
The Chens used a windfall to maximize impact.
As their kids grew older, the Chens wanted to know the best way to move forward with the extra money they were no longer spending on child care. They were encouraged by their counselor to pay down high interest rate debt first, as well as to establish savings. Together, the counselor and the Chens formed a budget and ideas on how to take the first steps toward their goals.
Sarah finally resolved credit report errors.
Sarah called in, frustrated with an error on her credit report. She had been working on this issue for months on her own and couldn’t get it resolved through normal channels. Sarah’s counselor was able to provide a number to reach a live person directly, and Sarah was able to get her credit report error resolved.
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Testimonial stories provided by LSS Financial Counseling, with permission from members to share.