A Restaurant Owner, Hurt by the Pandemic, Gets Advice on Shoring Up His Personal Finances

Cary Kemp was running a busy pizzeria in Seattle and had a restaurant consulting gig on the side before the pandemic hit. Now, receipts at Pizzeria 22 are down 70%, the consulting firm evaporated and he has taken a second job in construction to keep things together.

The divorced father of two is looking to find his financial footing, form a plan to save for retirement, and, generally, get the blocking and tackling of personal finances under control.

Mr. Kemp, 52, pays himself $647 a week at the pizzeria, but cashes the checks only when the business can cover them. He has only been bringing home between $1,000 and $1,800 a month lately. He also makes about $3,200 a month working construction until about 3 p.m., before heading to the pizzeria.

Mr. Kemp has no savings or money socked away in a retirement account. He calls his divorce, about six years ago, a “financial reset.”

He paid off his roughly $12,000 in credit-card debt last year. But he has $50,000 left to repay on a business loan with a 6% interest rate. He’s currently in deferment for up to a year, after which he has about two years left to pay at $6,000 a month. He has about $140,000 left in his business’s disaster-relief loan—which he can pay back at 3% interest, over 30 years—but says he is hesitant to touch it.

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