Sense & Centsibility Blog

Counselor Spotlight: Mary Ellen

It's time once again for our Financial Counselor spotlight. This time you're going to get to know more about our amazing Mary Ellen, who also writes for Sense and Centsibility!

Her Story

Mary EllenMary Ellen started with LSS in 2007, coming from the credit union movement. In her first few years she coordinated the Family Savings Account program — an asset-building initiative that matched savings to buy a first home, open a small business, or attend college.

She shepherded more than 400 participants through 12 hours of personal finance education and other preparatory training. She describes that position as a “happy job because we actually had money to give to people. How wonderful is that?!”

The Great Recession dried up funding for many worthwhile initiatives, including the Family Savings Account and Mary Ellen shifted to another LSS service — Financial Counseling.

Why Financial Counseling

She finds Financial Counseling equally satisfying and a very valuable service.  

“It's absolutely thrilling when someone comes in completely stressed, on the verge of tears because of debt, and they leave with a plan and hope.”

As one of her clients put it, “I can see light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s not from an oncoming train!”

One of her most memorable persons served was a single father who fell into a financial tailspin after his mother died. His siblings didn’t have money or credit so he used his credit cards to pay for the funeral.

The subsequent bills put him behind on rent and utilities. He turned to payday loans to keep afloat. Mary Ellen helped set up a Debt Management Plan for the credit cards and hooked him up with a local non-profit to turn his payday loans into a personal loan with affordable payments.

Together they set up a realistic spending plan. It was not easy for the single father, but he was committed. Every time one debt was paid off, she received a celebratory email from him.

What Her Supervisor Says

As a Financial Counselor with over ten years of experience, Mary Ellen is recognized for her expertise and down-to-earth counseling style. Her interactive approach helps people create realistic spending plans, explore savings strategies, understand credit reports, and accomplish debt reduction goals.  

A recent person Mary Ellen served commented: “I really appreciate the kind and thoughtful way you asked me for numbers and other info, asked me questions, doing some figuring, listening to me & telling me about options. I feel more hopeful today.”

Mary Ellen knows that having hope is important and she gives hope to the people she counsels.

Teaching Others, Writing, and Off Time

Mary Ellen still has her feet in financial education as part of the LSS Financial Education team. Her favorite gig is a weekly class at a local shelter foGardenr families.

Mary Ellen says she has learned more from the great families she gets to know than she ever expected and looks forward to the class each week. She has also mastered the art of sharing jokes to lighten the mood. 

Look up her blogs on Sense and Centsibility to find a wide variety of topics she’s covered over the past 3 years: money-saving tips, recipes, practical advice for young and old — and all mixed with humor and fun.

Off duty, Mary Ellen is a gardener “growing every vegetable under the sun” (she is prone to exaggeration). She bikes and walks all around Minneapolis. Having lived in her home for nearly 38 years, she claims to be “an old-timer now. I used to be a young-timer.”

If you would like assistance conquering your debt, navigating student loans, improving your credit, or achieving financial goals, call us today at 888.577.2227 to set up your free appointment with a financial counselor like Mary Ellen. Or, click to GET STARTED ONLINE at your convenience.