Faces of Success: Jeff & Serena
Valentine’s Day. The one day out of the year where all romantics go out of their way to demonstrate affection for that special someone. While the buildup of anticipation and ensuing holiday are important to many in relationships, the month of March carries special importance for Nashville residents Jeff Morris and Serena Mark.
“We are moving into a home next month, and we’re also getting married on March 19,” said Morris.
The happy couple has learned several lessons about themselves and their relationship over the last three years. One big takeaway is how finances can make or break a relationship.
“You have to be on the same page with finances,” said Mark. “Otherwise, they can put a real strain on your marriage.”
Mark learned about free 1-on-1 financial counseling services provided by the Nashville Financial Empowerment Center and the timing was absolutely perfect.
“My daughter had just finished high school and was getting ready to go to college,” Mark said. “I wanted to improve my credit score because I knew I had more of a financial responsibility and hoped to help her get the supplies she needed for college.”
The Nashville Financial Empowerment Center — a United Way of Metropolitan Nashville partnership with the Office of Mayor Megan Barry that provides free 1-on-1 counseling to help Davidson County residents reduce debt and increase savings — has enabled more than 3,700 clients like Mark achieve a combined debt reduction of $2.9 million and increase in savings by more than $500,000 through 2015.
Mark was so appreciative of the experience that she encouraged Morris to attend the counseling sessions offered through the program. He took her advice and went to work on his finances.
“I had an injury a couple years ago; it set me back,” said Morris. “My counselor never gave up and kept pushing me forward. A little hard work goes a long way.”
That hard work has helped Morris and Mark prepare for a marriage free of anxiety and stress often associated with finances. It’s also enabled Morris and Mark to build a new home in a booming housing market.
“It’s unbelievable that we were able to build this home,” said Morris. “It’s also special to know that we’ll live in it for many years.”
United Way’s partnership with the Office of Mayor Megan Barry on the Nashville Financial Empowerment Center has made believers out of this financially empowered couple. They demonstrated their affection for each other by utilizing the Nashville Financial Empowerment Center to remove a potential point of contention in their relationship. Valentine’s Day is great, but March can’t get here soon enough.