Sioux Falls bankers and financial counselors offer advice if you can't pay your bills

Published: Apr. 14, 2020 at 6:37 PM CDT
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Managing our money in the best of times can be a challenge. Breck Miller of Lutheran Social Services helps his clients with debt management.

"Because we all deal with money we just assume that we should automatically know how to deal with money. That isn't the case and especially in the context of this pandemic that none of us have really experienced anything like it," said Miller.

If you have bills that you can't pay, being proactive could bring you those most grace.

"But they need to hear from you and know what's going on. And that will make it easier to come up with a plan to get through this period of time," said Miller.

Local bankers would rather hear from you before the due date. Jack Hopkins is the President and CEO of CorTrust Bank.

"People can contact us if they're having issues with making their payments. We're working with our customers and I think most of the banks around are," said Hopkins.

During this uncertain time, making a financial priority list can help, starting with the basics like food.

"Things that are very clear that we need to protect first and foremost things like home, utilities, or insurance," said Miller.

Transportation should also be considered. Although the goal is for everything to be paid eventually, credit card bills and other unsecured debt may have to take a back seat.

"They understand this is what's going on right now they would rather have you be proactive with that than just avoiding it and trying to get it cleaned up later," said Miller.

If organizations say, pay us your money and we'll clean up your credit?

"No!" said Miller. Anything that can be done to clean up your credit, you can do yourself. That's a matter of federal law."

Lutheran Social Services is a non-profit organization that offers many services from debt management counseling, mortgage information, and school loan guidance

Assistance such as reduced interest, deferred payments, and other options could be made available to you if you communicate. Options for mortgages have other regulations that need to be followed to assist, but your lender can provide more information.

"We are being as flexible as we can with people. We know we're in unprecedented times," said Hopkins.