Hey. It looks like your problems are mostly of economical nature, also contracts scale heavily with the amount of days passed so having only 9 guys at day 20 or so will be very difficult unless they are very talented and decently equipped.
Do you repair weapons before you sell them? Do you trade with goods/food? Especially early when your daily upkeep is not that much, trading will make you rich.
Retrieving artifacts are always very difficult in the early game – it’s usually best to avoid them or “cheese” them if you are not certain that you can take the fight. By cheese I mean just doing an orderly retreat after you get the artifact. You don’t have to fight the enemies to fullfill the contract.
Against auxiliaries you should use flails, but not to go for their head. Auxiliaries have almost no body armor but sometimes wear those 95dur helmets.
Also, without flail mastery the 2nd skill does not ignore the shield bonus and it builds up way too much fatigue to use consistently.
Splitting shields is extremely dangerous as they will then attack you twice with double grip. Only split the shield if you know that you can kill the enemy before he gets a turn to attack and kill one of your guys.
Especially against skeletons you want greater numbers to get more surround bonuses.
Anyways, I would recommend you stick to veteran and just try again. The game has a steep learning curve and beginner will not teach you much. Sure it is nice if you want to have a casual experience but if you want to improve you should just play on veteran :).
Also, maybe you should play veteran without ironman mode for now. Ironman will help you learn to optimize your early game and resource management but playing without it will probably improve your combat strategies. If you get beaten or take losses you can try again and figure out a strategy to win.
Maybe check out some streamers on twitch and let them advise you or check out their strategies. Everyone has a different approach to the game so it is nice to see how people tackle it from different angles and maybe you will find someome with a playstyle that suits you.