Lutherans in the Twin Cities

Thrivent teaches home economics

Reaching out to provide sound financial advice and make people happy

Helping people to bring financial balance in their lives is the goal of a new program of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, a Fortune 500 financial services organization. The program involves meeting people where they live and assisting them in finding symmetry between living well and keeping their finances in check.

Called Thrivent Financial at Home, the new program aims to bring together small groups of friends and neighbors in people’s homes or a nearby social setting to learn how to improve their decision making in regard to household finances. The program is currently offered in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, Michigan, and North Dakota.

The program takes a page from direct selling success stories like Pampered Chef, Avon, and Tupperware, with one major difference: “We’re helping people provide for and protect their families,” said Brad Hewitt, Thrivent Financial senior executive vice president and chief operating officer.

The in-home meetings focus on some practical financial concepts in an informal setting. The goal is to show people that talking about finances in a relaxed and interactive atmosphere can be interesting and non-threatening. “There are so many people in this country who are struggling with financial issues and do not have plans in place to protect their family in the event of a death or disability,” Hewitt said. “Not only are we helping them address those needs, but we’re doing it in a fun way — a way that isn’t intimidating.” Those attending can expect to learn:

* eight steps to improve their financial health, * ideas for substantial savings on monthly expenses, and * practical tips for aligning spending with values.

“The ultimate goal is to help people reach and maintain a balance in their lives. There are no products sold at Thrivent Financial at Home gatherings,” says Jill Deuel, leader for recruiting and development.

“People have told us, ‘I’ve never enjoyed financial conversations — until I attended your gathering,’” said Bill McKinney, vice president, distribution development, at Thrivent Financial. “Our approach has really been welcomed by people for whom a more traditional financial services approach does not resonate.”

After the gathering, guests can choose to set up a follow-up consultation with a Thrivent Financial at Home financial guide, who can meet the clients’ needs for term life insurance, disability income insurance, asset allocation funds, and Thrivent Financial Bank products. Financial guides can also partner with Thrivent Financial’s traditional financial representatives to meet more complex client needs.

“We’ve received very positive feedback from those who have taken part in a Thrivent Financial at Home gathering,” said McKinney. “It’s clear that bringing these important issues to people in a way that is comfortable to them is what many people have been waiting for. Most importantly, it means we’re helping many more people address financial needs that had previously gone unmet.”

Thrivent Financial at Home gatherings generally last from 60 to 90 minutes, though the exact time may vary based on questions asked and other factors. Any number of guests may be invited. Hosts for the home gatherings will receive a $50 reimbursement to help cover costs of food and beverages. These home gatherings can help people on the road to planning for retirement, financing a child’s education, or simply paying off debt.

Interest in basic financial knowledge has increased during the current recession. The roll-out of the Thrivent program is timely.

For Thrivent Financial at Home financial guides, the program offers an opportunity to earn extra money while helping others.

“Years ago, I was fortunate to have someone help me establish some sound financial practices and my role as a financial guide now allows me to help others in a similar way. It’s incredibly rewarding,” said Lesley McElhiney, a Thrivent Financial at Home financial guide in Appleton, Wisconsin. “It’s also been an opportunity for me to save some extra money toward some important goals for me and my children.”

Thrivent Financial for Lutherans is a not-for-profit, Fortune 500 financial services membership organization helping approximately 2.6 million members achieve financial security and give back to their communities. Thrivent Financial and its affiliates offer a broad range of financial products and services, including life insurance, annuities, mutual funds, disability income insurance, and bank products. As a not-for-profit organization, Thrivent creates and supports national outreach programs and activities that help congregations, schools, charitable organizations and individuals in need.

Persons interested in hosting a home get-together can obtain more information by calling 612/844-4493 or checking the Web site: Persons interested in opportunities to become a financial guide should call Jill Deuel at 612/844-6815.