Financial Wellness and Stewardship Tools
Wartburg Theological Seminary forms valued leaders for God’s mission through a worship – centered community of critical theological reflection where learning leads to mission and mission informs learning. We believe that this formation happens in a whole variety of ways and providing tools and resources for financial wellness and stewardship formation is part of our mission.
We are dedicated to increasing personal financial wellness and stewardship formation awareness, tools, and resources. We encourage students, spouses/partners, and families to utilize these tools and resources throughout their seminary career and even after graduation.
Financial wellness is an intricate balance of the mental, spiritual, and physical aspects of money. This unique combination is an ideal to strive towards in our dealings with money. Financial wellness is having an understanding of your financial situation and taking care of it in such a way that you are prepared for financial changes.
Below you will find links, tools, resources, and financial coaching possibilities for your exploration.
Wartburg Theological Seminary (WTS) offers a financial coaching ministry as an opportunity for students to engage in exploring how they steward their personal finances as well as begin to develop positive tools for modeling and engaging in stewardship stories and ministry as leaders in the church. Financial Coaches are trained volunteers who help prepare leaders who are ready to lead and who are confident about their leadership in the church. Students come to WTS with financial situations as diverse as the students themselves. Some have a good sense as to how to manage their money, others have no experience in such matters. Some have no undergraduate debt, others enter with considerable debt. Students who have confidence in their financial situation and who are comfortable talking about faith and finances in their own life are stronger leaders in the congregation in which they serve. Through caring, honest conversation, coaches help students achieve a sense of well-being about money in their own life, which will free the student to be a stronger leader in the church.
When a coach and a student together assess the student’s financial life and when the coach helps the student develop and carry out a financial plan, much good will have been accomplished that will last far beyond the years that the student is at WTS. Coaches and students are matched by WTS and then engage in 4 coaching sessions in person, via phone/ Skype or a combination of both.
If you are interested in being matched with a financial coach or learning more about this ministry, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Financial Wellness Tips:
- Limit debt. Understandably, you will not be able to pay cash for everything that you purchase, for example, homes, cars, or an education, but by limiting the debt that you take on and paying attention to the terms of that debt, you can save yourself an incredible amount of money down the road. Secondly, understand your level of debt. Know who you owe, how much, and when the payments are due.Information on your federal loans, including loan amount, lender, servicer, and contact information for your servicer can be found at www.nslds.ed.gov. Please keep in mind that any private student loans will not be listed on this site.Information on federal loan repayment plans can be found at studentaid.ed.gov/repay-loans/understand/plans You can apply for the various repayment plans through your federal loan servicer.
- Have a budget and stick to it! A well planned budget will provide you with the guidelines to live within your means and create awareness of where your money is spent each month. Review your progress regularly and reassess budget categories, increasing savings and lowering debt as the budget allows.
- Save. Even if it’s just a few dollars a week, a savings account can help lessen the blow of unanticipated expenses (and there will be unanticipated expenses each month!) Clearly define what expenses qualify for use of these dollars and replenish the fund when you use it.
- Pay off your most expensive debts first (generally credit cards). After paying one card off, use the extra funds to pay towards your next most expensive debt.
- Protect your assets. Consider, research, review, and purchase life insurance, health insurance, auto insurance, home/renter’s coverage, and disability coverage (if not provided through your employer).
- Know your credit score. By establishing and maintaining a healthy credit score, you will qualify for lower interest rates on loans than other borrowers.
- Speak to an expert. As you are setting financial goals, establishing your budget, or considering taking on debt, speak to an expert that can provide you with an unbiased opinion on your progress or decisions.
Budget Worksheets and Affordability Calculators
The following tools are available for your use:
Student Spending Tracker Tracking your expenses can be a real eye opener and great first step when it comes to financial planning and healthy stewardship.
Tips from recent Wartburg Seminary graduates for financial success during your first call:
- Remember that self-employment tax must be paid quarterly. The first payment may be soon after you begin your new position.
- Realize the cost of moving and settling into a new area and home. It is said that it takes up to 6 months to recover financially from a move.
- Realize that Synod Salary Guidelines vary from synod to synod.
- Encourage household expenses to be limited to household income.
*Links have been reposted with permission from Auburn Seminary’s Resources for Theological Student Financial Planning *
Financial Wellness Resources:
Lutheran Social Services Financial Counseling Service www.lssmn.org/debt
- This service is available for those who have serious debt issues. The service is free. The reputation is outstanding. For information or appointments call 888-577-2227.
Credit Card Repayment Calculator www.federalreserve.gov/creditcardcalculator
- Based on information provided, the calculator will give an estimate of how long it will take to pay off a current credit card balance.
Credit Score Information
- This website provides information about both credit scores and credit reports.
- This article shows the steps to check your credit score.
Smart About Money www.smartaboutmoney.org
- This is the site of the National Endowment for Financial Education, a nonprofit foundation dedicated to helping people make sound financial decisions throughout life’s ups and downs. The site contains practical articles, worksheets, tips and resources from across the Web to help people understand and manage their money.
- This site will provide valuable resources about future benefits for those students who will become plan members after graduation.
- Thrivent provides free financial assessment for Thrivent members. Thrivent also has educational programs available on several financial topics.
Family Financial Wellness Education Resources:
Mapping Your Future’s Show Me the Future is a financial literacy and life skills game, designed to help 12-20 year olds prepare for their futures. The game helps players understand: cost of living, budgeting, financial planning, career goal setting, and the value of higher education.
The Lemonade Stand Game creates an opportunity for children to make purchasing and pricing decisions while they run their own lemonade stand.
Stewardship of Life Institute www.stewardshipoflife.org
The Stewardship of Life Institute (SOLI) is devoted to teaching, inspiring, equipping, and challenging Lutherans to live out stewardship as more that just financial support for the church. SOLI is an ELCA-affiliated nonprofit headquartered at Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg.
Stewardship for the 21st Century http://www.luthersem.edu/stewardship
This website contains a wealth of stewardship related resources. There is also available here a weekly stewardship e-mail that is sent to over 4000 subscribers.
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America “Competencies in a Well-formed Stewardship Leader”
The enclosed publication from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America addresses the question, “What qualities should a stewardship leader have?”. Resources related to the “Competencies in a Well-formed Stewardship Leader” are available at http://www.elca.org/en/Our-Work/Congregations-and-Synods/Stewardship/Steward-Leader
‘How Much is Enough? E-book’
The book was produced by Region 9 of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America/ Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary Council on Stewardship Education.
Editor: Catherine Malotky Contributors: Charles R. Lane, Craig L. Nessan, William O. Avery, Jim Mauney, Stephen Paul Bouman, and Marty E. Stevens
ELCA Wholeness Wheel
The Wholeness Wheel is increasingly used by ELCA individuals and organizations as an important learning and discernment tool. It illustrates that wellness is multi-dimensional — made up of spiritual, vocational, intellectual, emotional, physical, social and financial dimensions of well-being. Spiritual well-being is intertwined with and influences our well-being in all other dimensions.
Nowen, Henri J.M., The Spirituality of Fund-Raising, 2004, Estate of Henri J. M. Nowen. Order at: www.henrinouwen.org/