Is Taking Help Really OK?

August 15, 2019

I don’t think it’s any secret that there are a lot of differences in America.  But that’s a very deep conversation that we are not going to have here and now.  Instead, I want to talk about something that many, many Americans have in common.  A value of independence.

For a long, long time, the people who have resided here have been looking for their freedom, their independence.  That desired freedom has looked very different at times.  But that desire for independence is still there.

While often a good thing that drives personal development, social advancement, and equality, that sense of independence can also be a challenge to us.  As a matter of pride, it can be difficult for Americans to take help from other people. Read the rest of this entry »

Keeping Your Kids Financially Safe at College

August 8, 2019

August 19th.  August 26th.  August 27th.  August 28th.  What do all of these dates have in common?  These are the dates that our local colleges and universities start their 2019 Fall Term.  It’s that time of year again when you will see the great migration.  Students are excited about moving to college.  Moms are crying because their babies are leaving, and dads just wish there were more elevators to get stuff to the 4th floor dorm rooms.

Then there are the trips to the stores to get all of the supplies they will need.  Not just supplies for classes, but now you have to have all of the extra stuff like a TV, closet organizer, those little plastic drawer things to fit everything they own into a tiny little dorm room, a shower caddy, and all of those other things to make it home.

Yes, it’s a lot.  But I want to add a couple more things to think about.  I want to talk about keeping your kids financially safe while they are away at school. Read the rest of this entry »

A Kids Activity With Purpose

August 2, 2019

We’ve been talking a lot about finances in the family lately.  It’s important to help our kids learn about money.  We can talk all day about concepts and their importance for later in life.  That’s all fine and dandy.  But how do we get there?  What are we even supposed to do with this information?  How do we make it real and relevant to our kids right now?

OK, so let’s talk about that.  I thought that for my blog today, I would share a kids activity activity with purpose that can put concepts into action for your kids and teach them a few different things at once. Read the rest of this entry »

When Helping Your Kids May Not Help

July 19, 2019

Let me tell you about a college student I had in a class once.  At the end of class, nearly everyone had left except for one student.  The way they held back, I knew there was a conversation coming.  Once the other students left, they finally approached me and said, “I have a problem I want to talk to you about.”

This isn’t a terribly uncommon intro in my line of work.  Usually it is in reference to credit card debt, student loan debt, collections, lack of income, or any combination of similar topics.  No, not this time. Read the rest of this entry »

A Learning Vacation

July 11, 2019

Family vacations.  They can be a ton of fun and make memories that last a life time.  I can still get sentimental about my own childhood vacations and those were a while ago (a loooong, looooong, loooooooong time ago if you ask my kids).

Sometimes, though, those memories can also come with a cost.  It just costs money to do most things.  It doesn’t have to cost a ton of money, but probably something.  We have dealt with this in our own home.  Because it can directly affect them, vacations can also be a great opportunity to teach our kids about money.

So, without further ado, here’s the story of when my son taught ME about money. Read the rest of this entry »

4 Options for Ending Home Ownership

June 27, 2019

As we reach the tail end of National Home Ownership Month (also known as ‘June’), I thought maybe it would be appropriate to talk about the ways to end ownership of your home.  Hey, all good things must come to an end, right?

Sometimes the end is by our choice.  Sometimes we don’t have a choice and it is just the reality of the situation whether we like it or not.  So now what?  How do I get out of this?  What are my options?  All very good questions, so let’s look options for ending home ownership.

Sell It – For most people, this is the natural option.  If, however, you are facing financial challenges that will definitely prevent you from keeping your home, this is most often the best option for you as well.   I’ve heard people fight hard against this option because they don’t want to give up their house.  But if you are going to lose it anyway….

Here’s the deal.  If your home gets foreclosed, Empty Wallet.jpgthe bank will take the home and sell it for whatever you still owe them.  If it is worth more than you owe, they will not return the balance to you.  If you have significant equity in your home, sell it yourself, pay off the debt, and hold on to the balance of the profit for your future.

Foreclosure – This option for ending home ownership is probably the least desirable.  After missing a few payments, the bank will take the house from you and sell it.  Not only do you leave the situation with nothing, but now have a foreclosure on your credit history.  This one will definitely hurt your credit score.

The foreclosure process will vary state by state.  Here in South Dakota, you are typically about 6 months behind when the county holds the Sheriff’s Sale and auctions your home, usually to the bank that holds your mortgage.  In South Dakota, you do not have to be out at the time of the Sheriff’s Sale.  You actually have another 180 days to vacate the property before they can force you out (Statutory Redemption Period), regardless of who buys your home.  You want to avoid foreclosure; but if you can’t, know your rights.

Deed-In-Lieu – A Deed-In-Lieu is something of a compromise between selling your home and letting it go through the full foreclosure process.  Rather than the Sheriff’s Sale and Statutory Redemption Period, you agree to peaceably turn the home over to the bank and vacate on your own.  Because you are making an effort to work with the bank, this option to end home ownership will have less of an impact on your credit score.

signatureDo be aware that a bank may refuse your offer of a Deed-In-Lieu.  They aren’t just being mean about it.  If the bank takes your home this way, they forfeit any claims against mortgage insurance.  Mortgage insurance is designed to mitigate the bank’s loss so that they don’t pursue a deficiency judgement against you if the home isn’t worth what you owe.  If you don’t have enough equity in the home to cover your debt, they will likely refuse the Deed-In-Lieu and pay the extra costs of foreclosure so that they can file a mortgage insurance claim.  It’s a funny system.

Mortgage Modification – Some times life just happens.  These are the cases where modifications really shine.  If you are, for some reason, no longer able to maintain the mortgage on your home, lenders will often work with you to modify the mortgage to help you stay in the home.  One way they make it work is to stretch the length of the loan to keep monthly payments down.

OK, so it’s not really an option for ending home ownership.  But it is an option when it may feel like the end of home ownership is your only option.

If you go this route, be ready for paperwork.  The bank is going to want an awful lot of paperwork to verify your situation and make sure that this is a need and also sustainable after the modification.  It’s going to take some work on your part, but it could keep you in your home if that is what you want.

You can certainly work on the modification directly with your bank.  If you aren’t sure where to start or would like some help with the process, the counselors at the Center for Financial Resources can and do help people complete mortgage modifications.

If you would like some help, you can call us at 605-330-2700 or go online to schedule an appointment.


written by Breck Miller
images courtesy


LSS Center for Financial Resources
Consumer Credit Counseling Service | Housing Resources | Sharpen Your Financial Focus| Financial Fitness Education
705 East 41st Street, Suite 100 |Sioux Falls SD 57105-6047
605-330-2700 or 888-258-2227
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8 Ownership Alternatives to the White Picket Fence

June 6, 2019

June is National Home Ownership Month.  That’s a mouthful in and of itself.  If you read deeper, however, I think it’s a pretty loaded phrase.  Look at just one of the words – ‘home’.  How would you define home?  Traditionally, it is the single-family home with a white picket fence.  Yeah, you know the kind.

I have to admit, that was my perception of the ultimate home for many years, even as I got my real estate license and started selling people homes.  But as I spent more time there and then moved into homebuyer education, my understanding has changed. Read the rest of this entry »

4 Hard Realities of Buying a Home

May 30, 2019

You want to buy a house?  Great!  What are you looking for in a house?  Not sure?  That’s ok.  Oh, you want to figure it out as you go through houses and think about it on the fly?  Um, well……….

If you have started looking at homes, you know how hard it can be to find the right house right now.  At least that’s the case in our market.  That just means that you are going to have to do some soul searching about your next house.  Preferably, you are going to have this figured out before you even start looking.

What critical things need to be figured out ahead of time?  Well, here’s a list of 4 hard realities of shopping for a new home. Read the rest of this entry »

Dreams and Student Loan Debt

May 9, 2019

What do you want to be when you grow up?  Me?  I don’t know, but I’ll let you know when I do finally grow up….. (imagine a rim shot here).  But seriously, it’s a big question that our kids are thinking about early on in their lives.  As most of us adults know, that will probably change over time, perhaps even mid-college degree.

A poll put out by Fatherly and the New York Times reported the top ten careers that kids want to do.  At the top of the list were doctor and veterinarian.  Great professions.  Very noble work.  A LOT of student loan debt.  After just a quick search online, I found those in each of these careers could VERY easily end up with over $100,000 in student loan debt.

That’s a new house. Read the rest of this entry »

Debunking Financial Literacy Myths

April 4, 2019

“Hey, did you hear…..”

“Did you know that….”

“Somebody once told me…..” (insert the rest of the “All Star” lyrics by Smash Mouth here)

Yeah, aren’t we all experts?  Or, at least, we know an expert who is willing to impart their knowledge without even being asked.  But is that information really good information?

April is Financial Literacy Month.  “A whole MONTH devoted to financial literacy?” you wonder?  Why, yes, yes there is.  But why?  Well, because it needs at least that much attention.  As I am out doing financial literacy education, I come across a lot of different perspectives and opinions.  Unfortunately, too many of them are wrong.

So, to kick of Financial Literacy Month, let’s take a look at, and debunk, some of the incorrect financial literacy myths that are out there. Read the rest of this entry »

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