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Financial tips as April rent arrives

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DULUTH, MN -- Wednesday is April 1st, which means rent is due for most business owners and renters.

Many people have been laid off or forced to temporarily shut down their business due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For Deb and Mike Strop who've owned Uncle Louie's Cafe in Duluth for almost ten years, this is their new reality.

Their tables and booths are usually filled with customers but it has been quiet for several weeks now.

“It’s keeping us afloat, is it screaming busy? No, but it’s just the two of us. It’s enough to pay the bills," says Deb Strop.

There keeping business above water, but the "Stay at Home" order has led to laying off their 13 employees.

Strop says, “Most of my employees are pretty much okay for the first half of the month. A lot of them have already gotten their unemployment checks."

Strop adds paying the bills is a big concern, they can afford April's rent but the months after that are unclear. “If this goes for two to three months it’s going to be a challenge for I think, everybody."

Financial experts say COVID-19 has hit everyone hard. Steve Burgess CEO of National Bank of Commerce says keeping in touch with your landlord or banker is important.“Stay close to your landlord, your banker and keep communicating. Some of them may be able to offer some assistance with lower payments or portion payments or partial payment or even deferred payment."

He adds keeping track of what you're spending and getting rid of any bigger expenses you don't need is helpful.

"Take a look at your budget and see what you can do to cut out expenses, and try to live a little more frugally," says Burgess.

He says though the economy is slowing down, he believes things will pick back up in the Northland.

“The economy has definitely slowed in the Twin Ports, it has not stopped. So we want to make sure we’re doing stuff that’ll be encouraging for the future economic activity in the Twin Ports," says Burgess.

For the Strops, it’ll be hard to get back on their feet but they are hopeful to bring employees back and start serving customers in the near future.

"It’s amazing that we can keep them all, they’re all welcome back. We want them all back, you know we’re all family. We’ve all been here for a long time," says Strop.

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Emma Quinn

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