North Carolinians faced with dilemma of which bills to pay, which to ignore

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- The good news about the pandemic and all those bills that many can no longer pay - there are so many others like you the companies sending these bills know you may not be able to pay and many are willing to work with you.

The bad news is even the personal finance experts say there is no magic potion.

"There isn't, but communication is key," Latoyia Boria said.

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Boria works for Durham-based Self Help Credit Union, which also has branches in Virginia, South Carolina, and Florida. It was founded to help low and moderate income families gain wealth.

So Boria knows about people who live paycheck-to-paycheck and have trouble making ends meet.

But the financial crisis has left even some upper-income earners seeking help.

The problems are so widespread, lenders are being proactive, Boria said.

"A lot of lenders are working really hard to make sure that there are programs that are available for their customers," Boria said. "And so whether that's waiving fees, putting loans in forbearance, modifying loans, or a variety or a combination of all of the above."

Boria also said it's important that those having a hard time paying their bills reach out immediately.

And if they're reluctant, they need to remember that there are many, many others facing the bill-paying dilemma.

"That's a tough choice that a lot of Americans are having to make right now. If they are not able to meet all their obligations, which obligations do they meet and which ones do they neglect," Boria said.

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Boria said you'll probably want to start by talking with your landlord or mortgage bank to make sure you keep a roof over your head.

And while credit card bills are often the first thing people ignore, Boria said not paying that bill can ruin your credit.

"There are some bills that don't report to credit," Boria said. "So utilities for instance, it's not going to be a monthly report sent to your credit bureau."

And some of the companies that don't generally report credit may also be able to provide help with their bills, as long as you don't wait.

"Everyone knows what's going on so there's no shame in asking for help. There should be no hesitation in asking for help," Boria said.

And, even if you're not in financial straits, watch out for friends and family who are. They can quickly become overwhelmed, according Boria.

"Just to make sure that if you do have someone who may be going through a depression or in such a funk that they're not able to make those decisions, that you can provide support and guidance," Boria said.

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