Young people on their phones.

No More Debt Stigma

How can you, as a tastemaker and cultural influencer, support financial literacy and reduce the stigma of debt and financial insecurity?

Pretty easily, actually. Money Management International (MMI) is a proven, trusted nonprofit organization looking to engage with cultural influencers on a variety of platforms to help reduce the stigma associated with debt and financial stress.

A 2018 survey conducted by financial firm the Capital Group found that people are less likely to want to talk about their finances than politics, drugs, and racial issues. And women are even less likely to want to discuss their personal finances than men. The full report is here.

Ways to reduce the stigma surrounding debt

Join MMI’s ‘In Your Shoes’ movement

A financial expert at MMI would interview you about your financial journey to success, and moments when you have been “in the shoes” of someone struggling with financial insecurity or debt. We would post a photo from you of shoes you wore at that time of your life (or your favorite shoes now). This would be presented in a Q&A which would be distributed to over 100,000 current and former clients and hosted on the website which receives over 1M visits annually.

Create impactful content

Helping can be as simple as creating an Instagram video post that lets people know they are not alone in facing financial struggles, and that organizations like MMI are available to help them find resources and solutions. Encourage people to seek nonprofit (not for profit) help to resolve their financial issues. There are many companies that can prey on financially vulnerable people. There’s lots of good information below and here on

MMI Social Channels:

Engage with one of MMI’s Peer Advocates

Our group of former clients from across the country have each overcome crushing high-interest credit card debt --- as much as $100,000! They are eager to share their stories to create conversations, de-stigmatize debt, and help others find the confidence and solutions needed to overcome one of life’s biggest financial challenges. This diverse group can be tapped for interviews and social engagement by contacting

How to talk about financial stigma and shame

Several academic journals compiled here have supported the notion that these are some of the leading barriers for people seeking help for personal debts:

  • Lack of confidence
  • Lack of knowledge
  • Feelings of embarrassment and shame
  • Feelings of moral failure
  • Feelings of incompetence

From the research, here’s some ways to think and talk about combating these stigmas:

“You’re a good person even if you have bad debt. There are literally millions of Americans who are in the exact same situation as you are in right this minute.” You may not want to tell your family or your friends, and that’s OK. Just know that, statistically, many people in your family and in your friend group are probably struggling with the same debt problems as you are.

"Ignoring your debt is a very bad idea, and honestly, you can’t afford to bury your head anymore.” No matter how much you owe or how much you make, it’s fixable. Millions of Americans have debt problems, you are not alone, but you WILL NOT be OK long term if you don’t start to address the problem today. Your debt is not going to get better by ignoring it. It’s going to get worse.

"There are professional nonprofits that focus on education and empowerment to help you and it’s entirely confidential." Organizations like Money Management International (MMI) have helped millions of people tackle their debt. Knowing about these solutions is a huge first step. They know everything about debt because they have helped millions of people.

“You have possibly paid what you originally owed 3 times over.” Debt racks up over time and by not taking action, you are denying yourself the opportunity to make the most of what you have already paid. You owe it to yourself, for all you have worked so hard for, to take care of your debt. It’s really doable with the right nonprofit expert.

"Shame is destructive." Shame can cost you more money avoiding your debt, make you lose concentration and can cause you to lose sleep. Brené Brown, Ph.D., LMSW (shame and vulnerability researcher): “The less we talk about shame, the more power it has over our lives.”

“It’s not taking the easy way out to ask for help. You need to find the smartest way out of debt starting today.” Some people feel a moral obligation to repay all of their debt whenever they can, but if that’s not happening in the near future, or not possible in your current situation, then there are alternatives that can be best for you long-term.

“Your debt can actually make you much less healthy. It can even make you sick.” Studies have shown that the stress of being in debt is actually harmful to your health, both emotionally and physically. (Angel, 2016; Keene et al, 2015)

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  • Financial Counseling Association of America Financial Counseling Association of America
    MMI is a proud member of the Financial Counseling Association of America (FCAA), a national association representing financial counseling companies that provide consumer credit counseling, housing counseling, student loan counseling, bankruptcy counseling, debt management, and various financial education services.
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    MMI is certified by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to provide consumer housing counseling. The mission of HUD is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD provides support services directly and through approved, local agencies like MMI.
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  • National Foundation for Credit Counseling National Foundation for Credit Counseling
    MMI is a longstanding member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®), the nation’s largest nonprofit financial counseling organization. Founded in 1951, the NFCC’s mission is to promote financially responsible behavior and help member organizations like MMI deliver the highest-quality financial education and counseling services.