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Breaking the cycles of debt through financial fitness

For better or worse, our views and habits about money are shaped by the environments in which we grew up. If the adults around us struggled to maintain solid financial footings, we might inadvertently repeat their cycles of debt. Credit unions offer folks safe, shame-free spaces where they can strengthen their financial fitness. 

Diego and his guests explore the transformative power of member-focused fiscal education – with Tanya Valdez, Santa Fe registered nurse & DNCU member; Juan Fernández Ceballos, president and CEO, Credit Union Association of New Mexico; James Robert Lay, best-selling author and founder & CEO, Digital Growth Institute; Deb Salazar, chief experience officer, Del Norte Credit Union; and Kristin Harrison, director of business development, WebStrategies, Inc.

At a time when very little is taboo in conversation, the topic of personal finances still makes people more uncomfortable than s-e-x. That’s too bad because money always matters: where it comes from, what you do with it, and yes, how you talk about it. 

“Financial literacy alone, as a standalone, does more harm than good because it creates a pseudo sense of confidence,” says James Robert. “But when you layer that education on top of advisory, what I would call coaching, now we’re looking at financial health.” Credit unions are partners in their members’ fiscal well-being. Like gyms, credit unions offer support through various tools, programs, and options designed to strengthen core money muscles. 

When you’re in top-notch fiscal health, those around you are more likely to learn from the example you’ve set. Still, long-held shame around one’s ability to manage money can often prevent a person from seeking comprehensive, compassionate assistance. Credit unions don’t play the blame game or pressure members into unfit options. They put members on a path towards their goals or point them in the direction of someone who can help them now. “I often tell people that money is money,” Juan says. “Either you have a plan for money, or money has a plan for you. And, when money has a plan for you, it’s not a good plan.” 

Credit unions foster relationship-focused conversations in which money matters are no longer taboo. Hey, financial fitness may not be the sexiest topic, but, as Juan explains, “It’s a topic that can really change your life.” 

Financial Tea Hot Sip: Next time you’re thinking about making a big purchase, use a financial calculator. You can look at how much interest you’ll pay per month. Sometimes institutions offer better rates if you choose a shorter term, but that may mean a higher monthly payment. Knowing this information upfront is crucial, saving you time and money.

Featured Guests

Tanya Valdez

Santa Fe Registered Nurse & DNCU member

Juan Fernández Ceballos

President and CEO

Credit Union Association of New Mexico


James Robert Lay

Founder & CEO

Digital Growth Institute


Deb Salazar

Chief Experience Officer

Del Norte Credit Union


Kristin Harrison

Director of Business Development

WebStrategies, Inc.



“What it means to belong to me is you are joining a movement. You’re not joining just a credit union; you are joining a movement that’s changing lives.” – Juan Fernández Ceballos

“That’s where I always banked. I never knew anything different. My parents always use credit unions.” – Tanya Valdez

“I have a theory that if you can transform a person’s wallet, whether that be a physical wallet or a digital wallet, you truly can transform their life .” – James Robert Lay

“We don’t call it sales-and-service. Really, it’s about educating our members.” – Deb Salazar


Financial Tea in the Morning is brought to you by Del Norte Credit Union.

Produced and Edited by Andrea Klunder at The Creative Impostor Studios and mixed by Edwin R. Ruiz

Recording Engineer: Kabby at Kabby Sound Studios in Santa Fe

Hosted by Diego Muñoz

Theme music by Ricardo Lambert

Cover art by Leonard Cummings

Logo design by Charlie Gonzalez at Axess Multimedia