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Michael Neff Quoted in Atlanta Journal Constitution

I’m proud to have been quoted in yesterday’s AJC, though I hope by the year 2020 we will no longer be reading stories titled “A rather dismal economic decade.” I was asked to talk about the recent financial storm, and I offered the soundest advice I know for people in this time of financial predicament.

The full story can be found in the Business Section of the Sunday, January 3, 2009 issue of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. A portion of the article is reprinted here:

“Many people weren’t seduced by the borrowing and debt that was the signature of this decade. They saved instead of overspending. They didn’t leap into questionable mortgages or refinance themselves to the hilt. When the storm hit, their footing was good.

Atlanta personal injury attorney Michael Neff counts himself in that number. Neff, 41, a husband and father of two children, managed to expand his practice over the past decade, taking on a two-person staff and a second attorney.

Personal financial discipline is part of what carried him through, he said. His fees, earned only when cases are completed, arrive sporadically, so he follows a rigorous plan of saving and reducing debt. His best move, he said, was buying his first home near Chastain Park in Buckhead, a choice that squeezed him financially at the time. But his property has more than held its value amid the real estate upheaval, he says; he’s now building a new home on the same spot.

‘The best advice I ever got was to have six months of living expenses on hand. That’s a cushion a lot of folks did not develop for themselves [this past decade]. They got overleveraged and could not weather the storm. It can be tough to do, but money in the bank changes everything.'”