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Young professionals adjusting to ups and downs of the economy

As the drama of the country’s economy plays out on the national stage, young professionals in Mississippi are watching closely and making adjustments in their daily lives as they look toward the future.

Anna Langley, a CPA with the BKD accounting firm in Oxford, believes the current economy is having an impact on everyone in some way.

“There are some issues that are out of our realm of decision making. However, there are many things we can do at the household level to assist in managing our financial resources,” she said. “For example, budgeting, monitoring our spending trends, having family discussions on short-term and long-term financial priorities and reviewing our retirement plans and savings to ensure we are diversified.”

Langley, 33, is cautiously optimistic and understands that many people are struggling in the current financial crisis, but she doesn’t think panicking is the solution. “I think it is imperative that we as young professionals are cognizant of the macro economic situation and active at the micro level in terms of controlling expenses and making sound management decisions at the household level,” she said.

Jamie Murphy is a 35-year-old pharmaceutical sales representative who says his family is trying to stay with a stricter budget. “We’re looking at what we can spend weekly instead of monthly,” he said. “We eat at home more and have leftovers for the following day. We’re doing more carpooling with our three children’s activities.”

The Jackson resident, who moved back into the city from Madison last year, says he and his wife are postponing the purchase of additional furniture and are putting more funds into savings these days.

“I feel strongly that the economy will bounce back, but I’m also concerned in the short term. A lot of these companies rely on investors, and people are pulling out of the stock market,” Murphy said. “When you see your company’s stock go down, you can’t help feeling anxiety. The biggest thing for me is that I have lost so much confidence in our elected officials that we were depending on. This should not have happened.”

Attorney Jet Hollingsworth works in the public finance department of the Butler, Snow, Cannada, Stevens and O’Mara firm where he tries to find creative financing for people who can’t get financing in this market.

“We work in the bond market and it’s slowing down, so we’re looking at different ways to get financing,” he said of his professional challenge. “Getting the word out in this market is important.”

On the personal side, the 32-year-old Jackson resident says his family has also cut back on eating out and has put off a new paint job for their home. “We just asked if we really need it right now. We’re looking for ways to cut back,” he said. “We’re sitting tight with out investments and retirement in stocks. We’re willing to risk and wait because we’re not facing retirement soon.”

Hattiesburg residents Katie and Jason Townsend are in their 20s, have a one-year-old son and are optimistic about the future. She is communications director with the Area Development Partnership, and he opened a Play It Again Sports store last March.

“We feel positive about the economy,” Katie said. “We both do Roth IRAs and 401(k) investments, and we’re not pulling out of those right now as some are doing.”

Jason says the business is doing great, more than he expected. “We have new and used sports stuff. Customers can trade their old stuff toward new things. We also do consignments for trade as cash and people like that,” he said.

Because he works in economic development, Benjie Barham has been hearing and reading about the bleak economy for months. “I hear about the anxiety. The only positive area right now is in some industrial and commercial construction sectors,” the director of business development for the Hinds County Economic Development District said.

He and his wife did some house remodeling to their Clinton home this year. “We thought we would do some more, thinking we would try to sell it and upgrade,” he said. “But we’ve decided to put off doing any more work and we’ll stay put.”

Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynn Lofton at llofton656@aol.com.

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