Month: September 2022

Saving Summer

photo shows a shiny red push lawnmower sitting in green grass in front of a brown picket fence

In the United States, as in most places in the world, we are governed by the Gregorian calendar. But as we flipped the page and entered the “-ber” months, many of us are facing once again the power of the all-important academic calendar. 

Children, grandchildren, and neighbors are back to school. Summer is over for most of the country, and it’s got us reflecting. Without school, summer for many families can include more sleepovers or late nights and long chats on the porch. It could mean hours at the city pool or the anticipation of a big vacation. 

For some of us, summers also meant more leisure and more work. 

It’s possible that you earned your very first dollar—and then some, hopefully—one summer long ago. Teens are more likely to be employed during June, July, and August than any other time of year. And it makes sense: teens are more likely to have the time and opportunity then, as jobs like lawnmowing, babysitting, and lifeguarding peak each summer. 

Clients, if anyone in your household under age 18 was out making money this summer, consider talking with them about the “Swiss Army Knife of finance”: the Roth IRA

As long as someone has earned income (and doesn’t make more than the cap), they can contribute to a Roth IRA (up to the maximum amount). This means they might contribute up to the smaller of $6,000 or their 2022 total earned income. 

Say your child or grandchild earns $3,000 in the summer: they could contribute up to $3,000 to a Roth. Of course, they may not want to forfeit all their earnings, but if they’re able to, this may be a prime opportunity to impart the value of saving. If you’re feeling nice, you could “gift” them the $3,000 to replace what they saved. Better yet, offer them a match: you pay them back some percentage of what they save.

Roth contributions are taxable now and enjoy tax-free future gains. Beyond the magic of compounding, starting a Roth account early has other benefits: 

  • At any time, you may withdraw contributions without facing a penalty or taxation. 
  • Beginning five years after the Roth was opened and funded, account holders can take out up to $10,000 (earnings and contributions) to fund the purchase of their first home, tax- and penalty-free.  
  • Beginning five years after the Roth was opened and funded, account holders can use it to pay for qualified college expenses, penalty-free (earnings will be taxed as regular income). 

As children near college age, investors may have questions: the government does not include retirement accounts as assets in the calculations for student aid, so this type of savings vehicle should not impact the availability of federal financial aid. 

Withdrawals would be counted in the calculation, but be aware: the FAFSA uses a “prior-prior year” income picture to avoid having to base their decisions on estimations. So, for example, even withdrawals made in a 4-year graduate’s junior year shouldn’t affect their aid eligibility. 

The process of getting something like this set up isn’t terribly complicated. It is not necessary that the working person have a W-2, though we do recommend keeping records (think: basic invoices or even simple receipts from the neighbors for those lawnmowing or babysitting services). 

Clients, could this be a way to help your children or grandchildren preserve a piece of summer? Call or write, anytime.

A Roth IRA offers tax deferral on any earnings in the account. Qualified withdrawals of earnings from the account are tax-free. Withdrawals of earnings prior to age 59 ½ or prior to the account being opened for 5 years, whichever is later, may result in a 10% IRS penalty tax. Limitations and restrictions may apply. 

This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific tax issues with a qualified tax advisor. 

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[MARK LEIBMAN] They say the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Really, the whole journey, every inch of it, happens one step at a time. Everything you can think of is made of tiny things, tiny actions, single steps. The secret to accomplishing anything is basically to put one foot in front of the other.

The training of an Olympic swimmer happens one stroke at a time. Our quaint quarters at 228 Main were built one brick at a time. Books get written one word at a time. The 25 year history of LFS happened one day at a time. A $1 million 401(k) account gets built one fraction of a paycheck at a time. Healthy eating habits are formed one bite at a time. Relationships blossom one conversation at a time. A portfolio gets put together one opportunity at a time.

Humble, common actions within the reach of anyone are what great stuff is made of. You do this simple thing. Then you do it again. Then you do it again.

The secret to accomplishing anything great is to put one foot in front of the other, while you are aimed in the general direction of something worthwhile.

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Portfolio Themes: Fall 2022 Edition

graphic shows a photo of a basket of apples and the words "Fall Themes"

Investment research is an ongoing process here at 228 Main. Real-world developments are always intersecting with the changing prices of shares; the mosaic looks a little different each day. In our weekly meetings, we review news about companies we own, trade our insights, and talk about emerging bargains or trends. 

We think about what we own—and why. 

We sometimes find bargains in a particular industry or sector. Other times we study trends and try to sort out who will benefit in the years and decades ahead. Looking over the whole Buy List, patterns emerge. 

The single biggest theme often surfaces as a result of our search for quality companies at fair prices. Dominant, sector-leading firms—the blue chips—run the gamut from big green farm machines and home improvement chains to the largest retail health company and the biggest player in a highly fragmented industry (a consolidation play). This is where you’ll find Warren Buffett’s company, too. 

Emerging growth companies may benefit from increasing connectivity, innovation, and automation. Paired with the large technology companies who make the devices, systems, software, and chips we depend on every day, we have solid exposure to what seem to be likely growth areas in our economy. 

Natural resources have been a focus for years, and we continue to refine our thinking as the energy revolution unfolds. Copper and other industrial metals may have favorable supply-and-demand outlooks for years and decades to come. The fossil fuel industry persists, even as alternative energy becomes an increasing fraction of our total energy needs. 

The evolution of the automobile continues to intrigue us. We have exposure to this theme via big tech companies and copper producers, but also via ownership of automakers old and new, plus a supplier of sophisticated components that support the evolution of mobility. 

International diversification in Europe and India makes sense to us, and a few plain old bargains (in our opinion) round out our list. Among the shifting landscape in Europe and one of the world’s largest populations in India, we recognize some opportunities for exposure. 

Clients, we share a long time horizon; we stay focused on major trends. This approach provides some continuity in our thinking across the years, even while we work hard to understand the day-to-day factors affecting our holdings. It’s a thrilling challenge, and we’re always happy to share our thinking with you! 

Please call or email us when you want to discuss how this relates to your plans and planning. 

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. 

Investing includes risks, including fluctuating prices and loss of principal. 

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We Walk the Walk: Let’s Talk the Talk!

This operation at has not been a one-man band in many, many years. We’re working on making this enterprise more durable, more sustainable—to better serve you for the years and decades to come.

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Collaboration: It’s a Team Effort!

black and white photo shows six hands bumping fists in a circle

Clients, looking back over these decades together, the word “collaboration” is what comes to mind for me. I have worked with some of your households for years, and I am most proud of what you and we have created together. Successful investing requires effective attitudes and intentional actions with money. You, the best clients in the world, have been stellar partners in this regard. It has truly been a team effort.

But I’m realizing that “collaboration” will have even more meaning for our work in the years and decades ahead. The success we’ve enjoyed together has resulted in an enterprise that is now beyond my ability to run by myself (and not that I would want to—to my estimation, the gang and I seem to be having a pretty good time together!).

Greg Leibman became an integral part of the effort a long time ago; Caitie Leibman and Billy Garver bring us perspectives and skills we formerly lacked and now rely on.

Two of our core activities are investment research and portfolio management. With the increasing wealth you’ve brought to us, these activities are more important than ever. Our capacity to do them depends on the team we’ve assembled. It’s a collaboration that’s become vital to our daily work.

Even as we conduct our work as a team, however, I remain the regulatory head: as an Investment Advisor Representative of LPL Financial, I am the business structure. The others, on paper, are technically assistants working under my direction.

This regulatory structure is a vestige of the days when this was a one-person operation, and it no longer aligns with what we’re trying to do here. So, for the rest of the year, we plan to work toward restructuring our firm as a Registered Investment Advisor: this arrangement should more clearly reflect how we can best serve you in the years and decades ahead.

Friends, you know about my intention to work to age 92, and that is still the case. But I also believe that part of my responsibility to you is to help shape an enterprise that can outlast me. The mortality rate remains 100%, so sustainability is the watchword here.

A team format—four officers, working collaboratively—gives this entity some of the durability it deserves. Fortunately, LPL Financial has developed plans and processes for this exact scenario, which is not unique to us. I’ve not lost my sense of gratitude for what LPL Financial has meant to my family and me; your funds will continue to be custodied with them. Account numbers and history and online access and statements and all that will remain essentially unchanged.

There will be just a bit of paperwork to transition each account. Details will follow as we learn more.

It will take the balance of this year for us to continue this work and implement the new structure. Clients, we will be in touch with more detail about this journey as it unfolds—and we are excited to get things more aligned with the big picture.

Please email us or call with questions or comments. Thank you all again, for everything.

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Getting in Touch

Modes of connection may change over time, but we suspect that the desire to live our lives as social creatures will persist. What can our technology and our history teach us about what it means to be human, to work together?

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