Bill collector turned financial counselor finds her calling in helping others

When Mary Hurlburt started working as a bill collector in the early '90s, she says it took just two days for her to realize that it was not her professional calling.

Hurlburt didn’t want to collect money from people—she wanted to help them learn how to manage their money and feel confident about their financial literacy and capabilities. 

“Families can’t deal with other problems if they also have money concerns,” Hurlburt says. “Financial issues trump almost all others.” 

Hurlburt, who says she’s found her “true calling” as a financial educator, works in community outreach at LifeSpan Ohio,  Inc.—a nonprofit dedicated to “strengthening families and individuals who seek to improve the quality of their lives.” 

Through the organization’s Financial Counseling and Education Division, Hurlburt works to counsel individuals while helping them reach their goals, but she says some of the most exciting opportunities she’s had in her career have come as a speaker at the SmartMoney Choices conference—formerly called Women and Money. 

Although LifeSpan did not partner with SmartMoney Community Services until this past January, Hurlburt has been speaking at the the SmartMoney Choices annual conference for more than 10 years, delivering talks and tips about budgeting essentials.

“I start all my talks by reminding the audience that it isn’t what you make that makes you rich but what you save,” Hurlburt says. “Money doesn’t make you happy—it’s having control over your money that brings happiness.” 

Through the conference, which took place two weeks ago, individuals from the Greater Cincinnati community were able to come together to take personal responsibility to get their finances back on track and learn about various initiatives like Bank On Greater Cincinnati and Greater Cincinnati Saves—programs that help foster individuals’ success. 

“The Greater Cincinnati Saves program is an individual promise by a person to save money for something—nobody checks on them,” Hurlburt says. “We just say, ‘Make a promise to yourself to save money; declare that promise on our website; and then you’ll get text or e-mail reminders—whichever you prefer—with savings tips. And as of this morning, we have 427 savers pledged to save $29,000 dollars in Greater Cincinnati; and it’s just great.”  

Do Good: 

• Become a Cincinnati saver. 

• Contact Mary Hurlburt if you would like to request a speaker who can address financial concerns for various audiences.

• Like LifeSpan Ohio and Smart Money Community Services on Facebook.

By Brittany York
Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 
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