Five Tips on Finances / Your Financial Safety Plan
1/15/2013 9:37 AM
Financial reasons are one of the main reasons why domestic violence survivors return to an abusive spouse. Because of that, having a financial plan for your future can be key. Here are five tips that you can implement. Working with your local domestic violence shelter, you can help develop a more robust plan.
1) If possible, have copies of all important papers and financial documents stored in a safe location outside of your home. This can be with a friend/family member or in a safe deposit box at a bank. Include birth certificates, passports, social security cards, mortgage documents, bank account numbers or statements (if e-statements print them out if you do not fear your home computer activity is being monitored), credit card numbers and statements, student loan documents, etc. If your spouse controls these documents, work safely and slowly to get copies and have them sent directly to your P.O. box.
2) Start saving something--even $10--weekly towards your financial independence. There are online banks like Ally,Perk Street, and ING which have low or no fees. even if you do not have direct deposit available. If you opened up a safe deposit box at the bank, you can put cash in it. Do not rely on checks as often they have a limited time period when you can cash them. Open a post-office box first before setting up the account to receive any account-related mail. If you are currently employed and are given a raise or bonus, see if your HR department is willing to send that to your personal account rather than an account monitored by your spouse.
If you can't save cash, can you save gift cards? Purchasing a $10 or more gift card weekly from Target or Wal-Mart might be feasible. You can use these later to buy groceries, clothes, or household items.
3) Obtain a copy of your credit report and monitor it. Sometimes abusers will try and open credit cards in your name or take out loans in your name. Should anything show up, contact the institution immediately. If there are things that you need to clear up, try and take care of it now. Having good credit will help you set up your new life.
4) Change all of your passwords and PIN numbers for online and in-person banking and investing. Change your passwords on your email accounts. Call your credit card companies, banks, phone, and electric companies to secure your account with a unique PIN code or password. Do this with any new accounts you open as well. Ask these companies to use identifiers other than your Social Security Number, date of birth or mother's maiden name to authenticate your identity.
5) Be extra careful of anything you do online. If you fear that your spouse is monitoring your Internet use, s/he probably is. Deleting your history will not affect spyware/monitoring software. There is monitoring software for smart phones and tablets as well. It is often safer to do these things from a trusted friend's computer or even a public library than at home if that is your fear.