Important Steps Towards Financial Self-Sufficiency
These tips are provided by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence's (NCADV) publication entitled Hope and Power: For Your Personal Finances. You may request a free copy of the booklet at www.ncadv.org.
- Keep your personal and financial records in a safe location. Leave copies with a trusted friend, relative, or in a bank safety deposit box.
- Compile an emergency evacuation box with copies of your family’s important records and documents (i.e. birth certificates, medical or insurance records, passports, social security cards, documentation of evidence of past incidents of abuse).
- If your partner controls the money, look for ways to find out more about his/her income, financial property, real property, and debts.
- If you are thinking about leaving your relationship, find out what it would cost you to live on your own, and consider setting aside your own money, even if it’s just a few dollars. Keep it safe.
- Identify community organizations in your neighborhood that can offer free services, such as childcare, food, and unemployment help, and know how and where to reach them.
- If you use the internet to explore domestic violence issues or for information about regaining financial independence, make sure your abuser cannot trace your activities. Be cautious about giving out personal information over the web and think about having mail or emails sent to a friend or to your workplace.
- Get informed about the different ways to store and manage your money in an individual savings or checking account. A bank account is an excellent tool to accumulate savings in the event that you must suddenly support yourself with little or no income.
- Always have at least $20 in cash with you at all times in case of emergencies, but keep large amounts in a “secure” savings account that only you have access to.
- Take a financial inventory.
- Obtain a copy of your credit report from any of the three major credit bureaus, review the information, and report any fraud, disputed claims, or identity theft. You can obtain a copy of your credit report online or over the phone by contacting credit bureaus: Equifax (1-800-685-1111), Experian (1-888-397-3742), and TransUnion (1-800-888-4213).
- Keep copies of car and house keys in your wallet, along with emergency phone numbers.
- Visit the library to find resources on money management and domestic violence.
To learn more about how to develop a general safety plan, please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-SAFE); visit MALDEF’s Domestic Violence Prevention page on our website; and call MALDEF’s bilingual Info Line at 1-866-NO-ABUSO (1-866-662-2876).