About the Sense & Centsibility Blog

Welcome! Sense and Centsibility, the official blog for LSS Financial Counseling, aims to provide an interactive conversation for the public to learn more about financial topics that affect each and every one of us. We’re lucky to have smart, passionate people doing incredible things every day. We specialize in areas like financial counseling, being educators in our local communities, standing up for people in foreclosure crisis, and being thought leaders on topics such as medical debt and student loan debt.

Our number one goal with this blog will always be to educate people about what is happening around them. We use our own writing and influence to inspire change and encourage action! But – of course – what makes this blog exciting is YOU. So join the conversation!

Learn more about LSS Financial Counseling.

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Meet Our Financial Counseling Bloggers

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Ashley Hagelin

Certified Financial Counselor and Reverse Mortgage Counselor
Ashley Hagelin graduated from the University of Minnesota with a B.A. in Sociology. She became a NFCC certified Consumer Credit Counselor in 2005, a Foreclosure Prevention Specialist , and HUD and AARP certified Reverse Mortgage Counselor in 2006. She has 10 years of financial counseling experience which includes, debt and budget counseling, bankruptcy counseling, housing counseling, financial education, and reverse mortgage counseling. In addition she has given presentations for college students regarding student loans. As a wife and mother of two she brings personal and professional experience to financial counseling.

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Elaina Johannessen

Program Director
Elaina graduated from Hamline University (St. Paul, MN) with her B.A. in Latin American Studies and in 2015 received her M.A. in Management from the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, MN. She worked for two years as a Financial and Employment Planner, leading the Wisconsin Works program and provided comprehensive case management to low income parents. In 2008 Elaina decided she wanted to empower people financially so she began working for LSS as a Financial Counselor and provided debt, budget, and foreclosure prevention counseling. Since she started with LSS, Elaina has been involved in every function of financial counseling from counseling to supervising counselors and the Scheduling Team to her current role as Program Director of DMP Operations and Support. She coordinates the LSS personal finance blog, Sense and Centsibility, as well as Financial Counseling social media. Elaina lives in Duluth, MN, with her husband and two dogs, Lily and Zoe, and sings as much karaoke as possible.

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Mary Ellen Kaluza

Certified Financial Counselor
Mary Ellen Kaluza is a full-time financial counselor with LSS Financial Counseling in the Minneapolis office. She focuses on budget, debt, and credit counseling, along with financial education. When Mary Ellen isn’t working, she is a major home gardener, tending a plot the size of a city lot. Fortunately for Mary Ellen, she lives in a world-class biking city because she bikes all season long. Her most-cited accomplishment was acing Statistics at age 56 and loving it. Who knew? Bonus: She finally got a college degree after 37 years of fits and starts in her college career and a mountain of credits. Mother to a 24 year old Stanford graduate, Mary Ellen is happy the Bay Area didn’t hold its grasp on her daughter who now lives within biking distance.

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Katie Eastman

Certified Financial Counselor
Katie Eastman has been working as a Financial Counselor since December of 2014.  Prior to that she worked at a credit union for just under 11 years, the later years as a loan officer. This experience gave her an inside look at the whole world of finance; Katie knows first-hand the criteria creditors are looking for, plus the rules and regulations they must follow.  She has enjoyed the transition to helping people reach their goals of getting out of debt instead of putting them further into debt. Coming from a large family and now raising a large family of her own, Katie knows how difficult it can be to stretch every dollar and she loves sharing creative ways her family has reduced expenses in their household. Born and raised in the Brainerd Lakes area, Katie is happy she is able to work out of our Brainerd office and help people in the community create manageable, workable budgets, review their credit reports, and come up with a game plan to get out of debt.

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Cherrish Holland

Financial Counseling Supervisor
Cherrish Holland has 19 years of experience working at LSS Financial Counseling. She is a certified financial counselor and has a BA from Gustavus Adolphus College. Cherrish enjoys sharing her own family’s experiences with finances–especially those of her 2 grade school aged kids. She likes spending time with her family, watching college sports, reading and summer outdoor activities. She has lived in Minnesota for years, but still refuses to go on frozen lakes in the winter. She is passionate about advocating for consumer protection issues and educating others so they can reach their financial goals. Cherrish is also a proud breast cancer survivor!

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Shannon Doyle

Certified Financial Counselor
Shannon Doyle holds a BS in Social Work from St. Catherine’s University in St. Paul, MN. She became a Certified Consumer Credit Counselor in March of 2007. Before that she worked as an Employment Coach and a Community Organizer. Her previous experience helped her build a strong knowledge of economic and employment issues, as well as advocacy skills. She cares deeply about economic justice, consumer rights, and guiding women towards financial success. As a single mom she has made many money mistakes in her life and credits her friend and “money mentor”, as well as her current job, for being able to turn it around. Her use of personal experience and humor in her counseling allows her clients to feel at ease, understood, and encouraged to take control of their finances. Shannon’s main area of focus is on budget and debt counseling: especially student loans and managing college costs. She provides financial counseling for students at two local universities as well as from her main office in St. Louis Park.

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Carla Hanson-Melander

DMP Support Specialist
Carla Melander is a Debt Management Specialist with LSS Financial Counseling.  She has 3 grown kids, 3 grandkids, and all the fun that that brings!  She was a banker for over 30 years before embarking on a new career as a Certified Personal Chef.  Now, back in the financial world, Carla loves to work with folks just like her to become debt free instead of working on the for-profit banking side.  She loves to live life fully and simply: playing the guitar, biking, painting, traveling, spending time with the kids, gardening organically- saving money by growing her own veggies and herbs.

 

Paige Best

Certified Financial Counselor
Paige specializes in debt, budget, and student loan counseling and also works with LSS’s Financial Education team. Many years ago, Paige graduated with a BS (it stands for Bachelor of Science, not the other thing) in sociology from the University of Iowa. Go Hawkeyes! For a little over 2 decades, she has lived and owned a home in south Minneapolis on her own. She enjoys reading mysteries, walking her dogs, playing hand bells and clarinet for her church and spending time with family, friends and neighbors.

Paige had a personal interest in financial wellness before starting work with LSS financial counseling.  In her mid-thirties she divorced and put pencil to paper (yes, she actually used pencil and paper) to create her first budget – and it was not balancing!  She took the time and put in some effort to education herself about budgets, credit/debt, spending and saving so her budget would balance.  Since then she has learned several things about financial wellness and enjoys sharing her knowledge with others. Paige gets excited to be able to discuss budgets (yes, budgets) and plans to get out of debt with others.  She especially enjoys sharing her own experiences, failures and successes, and working with younger people at the College of St. Catherine or in her office.

 

April Sanderson

Certified Financial Counselor
April came to LSS Financial Counseling in 2008 with a background in helping homeless youth regain stable financial footing.  While working with the youth she found a love of helping people achieve their financial goals, so the move to Financial Counseling fit her personal mission perfectly.  April is part of the Student Loan, Partner Relations, Financial Education, and Blog Teams.

A few years ago April helped a single mother develop a budget that she could feel comfortable with and confident in knowing that everything balanced.  “Felicia” called me her a few months after the appointment to let April know that she was still sticking to the budget and was able to put away and KEEP money in savings.  “Felicia” said she was going to make sure her kids knew how to do this so they never had to feel lost and hopeless like she did with their finances.

When the people April serves pay off their debts through a DMP she calls to congratulate them every time. April says: “It’s a great feeling to be able to tell someone that all their hard work paid off and to hear the pride in people’s voices when they acknowledge they made that choice to take action and conquer their debt.”

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