With bills piling up on unemployed metro residents, financial planner says there are options

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A record number of people unemployed means a record number of people unable to pay bills.

As the shutdown drags on, more Americans out of work are feeling the pinch of not having a paycheck. People have filed for unemployment, but the process of receiving payment is slow, leaving many people without a paycheck wondering how they are going to pay their bills.

“The day we found out, we got paid that day, so in my head I’m like, ‘I’m good for two weeks, I’ll have time to figure something out,’ and then when it sets in, it’s a little scary,” Matt Tierney, Manager of The Granfalloon Restaurant and Bar, said.

Tierney has been a manager at The Granfalloon for eight years. He said he and and his coworkers were caught off guard when they abruptly lost their jobs temporarily. To make ends meet, Tierney turned to his side hustle, Tierney’s Smoked Goods.

“It’s good. It’s not making a ton of money, but it’s definitely helping in a time like this,” Tierney said.

It may be helping, but it is not replacing his paycheck. For folks like Tierney, there is help in the recently passed Federal CARES Act.

“A Federal act that’s providing a lot of relief for people as fast as they can get that relief out,” Kathy Stepp, a financial Planner at Stepp Nad Rothwell, said about the aid package.

The government is giving $1200 dollars to adults and more if you have a family, and that is just one of the programs to help people make it through the pandemic.

“The rest of the benefits will be helpful but not necessarily all free,” Stepp warns.

She is also advising people to take advantage of other programs, like unemployment, mortgage relief, student loan relief and 401k plans.

“You always had that right. You can borrow more now,” Stepp said. “It can be up to 100%, and you have an extra year to pay it back.”

Not everyone has those options, so Stepp suggests calling your credit card companies, utility companies and anyone to whom you owe money. Most are making deals.

“The best thing that you can do is just ask and try to work something out,” Stepp said. “The worst thing you can do is ignore it and not pay bills and hurt your credit rating. Don’t do that.”

If you rent, your landlord may work out a plan to help, like Tierney’s did, in exchange for yard work and other maintenance.

“Basically told me what he needed done. He said he would cancel the other guys and depending upon what we got done, he said he would take a couple hundred dollars off the rent,’ Tierney said. “So that was very helpful.”

Stepp said if you are applying for help, be patient. It may take a while to get through, but don’t give up. She hopes that people who do not have a nest egg learn from this experience and start a savings account that can provide 6-9 months of support.

Orders to Tierney’s Smoked Goods can be made on its Facebook Page of on Instagram.

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