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Hello fellow community members. I have a question regarding debt, and since it is a shameful subject with a lot of stigma I have been reluctant to ask for advice.

Currently I am a single mama to a beautiful 6 year old I have recently left an abusive marriage where I was mentally abused for years and had no knowledge of the financials I was prohibited from all of the money. I am now in debt and am finding it difficult to start over I have little savings and left with little I am homeless and trying to get on my feet. We live with family, thankfully. My question is what steps can I take to start over financially when I really don’t know much?

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    Do you have a job? Can you add and subtract? Those are the first two, and most important, steps. – RonJohn Jul 20 at 23:31
  • Hello friends..Yes I have a job part time. I can read and write I mean I have some learning disabilities but I am literate. I can do basic math unfortunately I am just financially illiterate due to being married and not being allowed to have access to money. Also my upbringing wasn’t the best I had 0 financial education I barely knew how to open a checking account. – rosie avra Jul 21 at 0:08
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    What kind of debt are we talking about (credit cards, personal loans, medical debt, auto loan, mortgage, student loans...) and what are the terms (interest rate, maturity)? It might also help to know which country/state you're based in to point you towards local resources. – 0xFEE1DEAD Jul 21 at 0:50
  • I am in Canada current and it is mostly credit card debts by my x unfortunately he is of no use to the situation he was using my name sadly. – rosie avra Jul 21 at 1:24
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    You may have legal recourse if he was putting the debt in your name without your consent. – chepner Jul 21 at 15:34
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From Six Steps to Get Out of Debt by the Government of Canada:

If you don't know where to start, consider booking a consultation with a budget or credit counsellor. They can help you identify debt management opportunities and build a debt reduction strategy. For example:

  • Are there opportunities to consolidate loans (also known as debt pooling)?
  • Are you able to negotiate your debt with your lenders and/or creditors?
  • Are you working closely with your mortgage lender to find the best solutions for your budget?
  • What kind of approach should you take with credit cards?

[...]

Here are some resources on finding a reputable budget counsellor and how to tackle debt consolidation:

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Sorry for your troubles but you have already taking the first step of moving forward.

Debt is complicated and it may be good to have a trained professional looking at your specific situation. There are "debt counselling" entities that can help with them. Unfortunately not all of them are trustworthy and some might be out to scam you, so you should research this carefully before engaging. See for example https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0153-choosing-credit-counselor

It typically boils down to the following:

  1. Make a budget, figure out how much you currently spend and decide where you can safe or cut expenses.
  2. Prioritize your debt. Pay off high interest debt first. These are often high interested credit cards and/or short term loans (paycheck loans).
  3. Cut up your credit cards.
  4. Figure out whether all your debt can be consolidated or refinanced into a single low-interest loan or try to negotiate payment terms with existing creditors

But your debt situation is highly specific to you and there really is no "one size fits all" plan. Depending on your location, there may be public resources to help with this.

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  • Here's a similar website for Canada: ic.gc.ca/eic/site/oca-bc.nsf/eng/h_ca02971.html – 0xFEE1DEAD Jul 21 at 15:21
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    On the credit cards, not sure about Canada-specific details, but it would be good to call / contact them all, ensure the accounts are all closed, or at least don't have him as an authorized user. If he is the primary cardholder, try to get you removed from the account. And talk with each about your situation and see what suggestions they have. – Mark Stewart Jul 21 at 18:35
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It is a lot you are going through and all add stress to your life.

While debt can be helpful in certain areas of our lives it is to be avoided. The stigmas come from the pain and suffering it brings on individuals, families, and other relationships. IMO it should be avoided in most cases.

You are in a wounded state, and as such need to heal. Thankfully you and your daughter are safe now so the first thing to concentrate on is income. What skill can you bring to the market place that will earn you a wage? What can you do to improve your earning power?

The second thing to concentrate on is your four walls. How/where can you establish a healthy residence for you and your daughter to live? Food and utilities are needed as well along with transportation.

Establishing those things are not easy and will take some work. It is very premature to ask about debt in general without discussing income, purpose for the debt, or even a plan to live on your own.

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