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ITC_Managing-Your-Financial-Independence_Inset-011. Information is Power  Not sure where to start? Look around your community. Your local town hall, civic organizations and even banks may offer financial workshops that can help you be better informed. At home you can check out websites from trusted financial education organizations, such as the National Endowment for Financial Education and Operation Hope. You’ll establish a foundation of monetary knowledge that can help you make informed decisions.

ITC_Managing-Your-Financial-Independence_Inset-022. Storyboard the Scary Stuff It may sound counterintuitive, but considering the worst that could happen may empower you to better face the fears that are keeping you from moving forward. By “storyboarding” or imagining a scary financial situation, you can consider what you can handle and where you can get help. When you acknowledge the worst scenario you could possibly face, you’re better able to step back and discover the solutions for it. Then, you’ll know that you don’t have to sweat the smaller stuff.

ITC_Managing-Your-Financial-Independence_Inset-033. Check Your Credit Report Reviewing your credit report on an annual basis to make sure records are correct, and keeping an eye on your credit score, can help ensure that there won’t be any barriers in the future when you’re considering making a large purchase, such as renting or buying a car or house, or applying for loans.

ITC_Managing-Your-Financial-Independence_Inset-044. Be Action Oriented You could spend a lifetime exploring different financial strategies, but you don’t have to. Instead, gather enough information to make your move. Start with small, attainable goals and the steps you’ll need to achieve them. When one is done, move on to the next. You’ll be surprised with how much you can achieve by taking it one action item at a time.

ITC_Managing-Your-Financial-Independence_Inset-055. Plan for Your Future Be informed about your finances and financial planning. If your partner manages your finances, ask them to share relevant documents and access to shared accounts so that you have a better sense of your financial well-being. Regardless of who manages the day-to-day finances, both partners have a right to this information.

Having a basic understanding of financial literacy and control over finances is important for everyone. For many women, a lack of financial knowledge and resources is one of the main reasons they can’t escape abusive relationships. In situations of domestic abuse, consider reaching out to organizations that may be able to offer assistance, such as your local domestic violence shelter. They may be able to provide shelter, short-term economic planning, legal advocacy, peer support and more. Or, reach out to your local public assistance office and ask for a list of programs available in your area, such as cash assistance, food stamps, child support, free lunch programs and medical insurance assistance. Check out government benefits you may qualify for. If you’re 62 or older, contact your local social security office to assess your eligibility.

The impact of domestic and financial abuse can't be overstated. Domestic violence affects 1 in 4 women in the United States, and 99 percent of all cases include financial abuse. One of the top reasons domestic violence victims stay in, or return to, abusive relationships is that they lack the financial resources that would allow them to leave for good. Since 2005 The Allstate Foundation has invested more than $66 million to help end domestic violence and financial abuse and has helped more than 1.7 million survivors rebuild their lives through financial empowerment.

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