How to Break the Stigma of Spoken Finances

By Shirley Tien, Directorate of Prevention, Resilience and ReadinessOctober 24, 2023

How to Break the Stigma of Spoken Finances
Robyn Mroszczyk, Financial Education Program Manager, Prevention, Resilience, and Readiness Directorate, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-9, gives her remarks during AUSA Military Family Forum II at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., Sept. 10, 2023. The topic of the forum, “Let’s Get Tactical – Resiliency and Upstream Prevention Tool Kit Building,” was in support of the AUSA 2023 Annual Meeting and Exposition. (U.S. Army photo by Bernardo Fuller) (Photo Credit: Bernardo Fuller) VIEW ORIGINAL

If you’re struggling to make ends meet, guess what? Your neighbor is living paycheck to paycheck, your colleague can’t afford childcare, your sibling was just laid off, and your friend is on unemployment. This may come as a surprise, but no one talks about their finances openly. Let’s try to change that.

Robyn Alama Mroszczyk, financial education program manager at HQDA, deputy chief of staff, G-9 says, “There is this great book called Money Mammoth by Ted Klontz, Ph.D., that explains our anxiety about money most likely goes back decades and affects all of us individually. One emotion that we are preprogrammed to feel about money is shame. And what do we do with shame? Well, we don’t talk about it.”

Finances are everyone’s concern. According to Karolin Guadarrama, financial readiness education specialist at HQDA DCS G-9, “It is quite normal for the average person to not have a profound understanding of money and how to manage it. We are moving in the right direction with personal finance embedded in high schools; however, the curriculum is not regulated. This has lasting effects as we can see a direct tie to concerns with finances affecting readiness and leading to harmful behaviors.” Poverty and unemployment may impact mental and general health, increase risk of child or partner abuse, and even result in death by suicide.

Mroszczyk says, “Credentialed personal financial counselors are at every installation providing free, non-biased confidential counseling services. Visit financial, the Army’s official financial readiness website.”

Guadarrama adds, “Soldiers and Families should regularly adjust their spending plan and also get educated on what additional programs and benefits are out there that they can qualify for. Our counselors provide comprehensive educational and counseling programs including developing a spending plan, debt management and planning for those ‘out of the ordinary’ needs.”

However, to really break the stigma of finances, Mroszczyk says, “Start having conversations with leadership and other Soldiers. Make personal finance part of the day in and day out conversation. Don’t forget to talk to your kids about financial matters; they are always watching and observing. Teach them early on that they don’t have to have shame surrounding money.”

Many people are facing financial problems, but there are tools the Army has that can educate those in need. Directorate of Prevention, Resilience and Readiness also has lots of financial tips. Lastly, don’t be afraid to get the discussion going. You’ll soon realize we’re all in the same boat. Not only will we succeed in making the topic the norm, but we’ll also find quicker solutions to our problems.