A New Reality

Life changes lead a couple to seek help from the Thrivent Financial Guidance Team.®

The Rev. Clint and Jessica Starnes adopted Willow, 6, and Carson, 4, 
in February. This article (PDF) | Current issue (PDF) | Archive

By Tom Brandes

For the Rev. Clint Starnes and his wife, Jessica, of Spartanburg, South Carolina, dealing with life's joys and sorrows dramatically changed their perspective – and their financial plans.

In January, a close pastor friend of Clint's came down with pneumonia. He was young and healthy, and Clint thought his friend would quickly regain his health. A few days later, however, his friend died of complications.

"His passing really hit me hard. He was an extraordinary planner and had investments and insurance even his wife wasn't aware of," Clint says. "She won't need to work again. That made me think about how extremely important it is to protect my family in case something happens to me."

That made me think about how extremely important it is to protect my family in case something happens to me.”
– Thrivent member Clint Starnes

That need to provide for the family became more immediate after the couple adopted Willow, 6, and Carson, 4, in February of this year. Meeting the needs of their newly expanded family meant adjusting work schedules, finances and life insurance coverage.

Jessica switched from full-time to part-time employment so she could be home more with the children. But in doing so, she lost a $25,000 term life insurance contract sponsored by her employer. She and Clint, pastor at Clifton Church of God in Spartanburg, thought they had adequate coverage before. But now they were concerned about the cost of buying insurance.

Finding a solution

Clint searched "Christian life insurance companies" online after Jessica lost her coverage. Thrivent was one of the first companies to appear in a list of results.

He liked what he learned about Thrivent, so he filled out a brief online form that asked what types of products and services he was seeking. Soon, Jay Jones, a professional with the Thrivent Financial Guidance Team, called him.

In existence for more than 10 years, the Thrivent Financial Guidance Team is made up of licensed, experienced professionals who work with members over the phone and via secure email to answer questions or help develop and implement a financial strategy.

"Jay was extraordinarily helpful and easy to work with," Clint says. "We told him we felt comfortable spending $100 a month for life insurance and disability income insurance for me."

Soon, Jones was exploring options to help provide financial stability for the young family while keeping its budget intact. Jones compared permanent and term contracts, the two main types of life insurance. Some permanent contracts remain in effect for as long as premiums are paid. Typically, they also build up cash value. Term coverage, on the other hand, generally lasts only for a fixed period of time, but it can be less expensive.

After looking at a number of options, Jones suggested a combination of permanent and term life insurance for Clint. "They ultimately decided on a $50,000 whole life contract, a $150,000 30-year term contract and disability income insurance," Jones says. "The lower-cost 30-year term contract provides maximum coverage now while his kids are young, and the whole life contract will be in place for the rest of his life, as long as premiums are paid."

The disability income insurance contract that Clint chose allowed him to customize and maximize the amount of protection and the way it is distributed, should he need it.

After finalizing Clint's insurance coverage, the Starneses asked Jones to provide affordable options for term life insurance coverage for Jessica.

"Jay suggested a $100,000 20-year term life contract that cost less than I was paying for my $25,000 company-sponsored term contract," Jessica says.

For Clint, working with an organization for Christians was a high priority. Plus, he was pleased that Jones was focused on creating the best plan for the family.

"We went with Jay and Thrivent because of the values they represent, and I've recommended them to pastor friends and church members," Clint says. "We were very impressed that Jay was willing to go the extra step by researching and offering multiple options that allowed me to choose the best plan for my family and were also budget friendly."

Tom Brandes is a freelance journalist in Minneapolis.