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How to prioritize your bills when finances are tight

With more people out of work facing financial woes, a big question is now being asked by many — Which bills come first and which can you put aside for now?

For those struggling, there are options. Especially with the first of the month being Wednesday.

Dr. Tom Smythe, a finance professor at Florida Gulf Coast University, says, first cover your food and medication, “Once you get past those basic necessities, you want to look at those things that are going to have a lasting impact on your credit. So mortgages, car loans things of that nature.”

And people like single mom Christine Bradford-Bowen agree that a roof over her head is a priority. “My main thing is — I am going to have to pay my rent. I can always get backed up on my electric and all that and make payments on that. But a roof over my head is my main thing for my kids,” she said.

Next, look at your credit card debt because of its high-interest rates.

Smythe says if they carry credit card debt then you should reach out and see if you can get your interest rates lowered, or put off payments without incurring additional fees and interest.

And finally, utilities. LCEC will work with you on payments and won’t charge late fees. FPL says it won’t cut off power for overdue bills.

As for your internet, Comcast and Centurylink say they won’t disconnect or charge you late fees.

But the key is picking up the phone and calling.

Lead with your job and explain how your situation has changed. Be honest, and if you can afford half of the payment, offer to pay that.

Take advantage of what companies are offering.

Dr. Smythe says federal student loans can go on the back burner for now because of the government stepping in.

Reporter:Allison Gormly
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