Due to the financial crisis in 2008, I had to borrow very substantial sums of money from family in order to stay afloat and for my family and I not to become homeless. BH, things have slowly started to turn for the better. However, I cannot afford to pay off my debts to family and give maaser. I am still in a hole, so to speak. Can I take the 10% and start the slow agonizing process of repaying my debts in lieu of giving 10% for tzedakah?
Debts come first. So you should first pay back any money owed and be’ezras Hashem when you are back on your feet and making ends meet, you can start giving ma’aser.
Y:D 251:3 & ibid Biur HaGroh 6.