Author: Leibman Financial Services

In Which Numbers and Feelings Become Better Friends

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“We figure out what we want with our feelings. We learn everything we can learn from the numbers.” — Me 

Sometimes new clients are surprised when most of our work together is conversation. There’s very little button-clicking on a computer that will do us any good while we’re meeting. And there’s no chart or binder just sitting in my office—or anywhere!—that can tell us what we need to know: 

  • What does money mean in your life? 
  • What are your goals? 
  • What’s working? What could be better? 

There are choices to make that do involve some math, of course. That’s a big part of our role. But your job? Figuring out what you want and how you feel about how to get there. 

In their book No Hard Feelings, Liz Fosslien and Mollie West Duffy explain, “When people talk about decision making, they tend to assume that feeling something and doing something with those feelings are the same thing.” Some folks notice a feeling swell up in the process and try to shoo it away, thinking it will only gum things up. Surely, if we “open the floodgates, we’ll be bowled over by the crush of our emotions.” 

But that’s not giving ourselves much credit, is it? Gut feelings aren’t random signals. They can be clues to our self-knowledge. Ever bought a house, juggled job offers, or gone on a first date? 

Our feelings can help us figure out what we can live with and what we cannot. And as we’re fond of saying, “your money, your life.” No matter what happens in our conversations, clients, you’re still the one that has to live with your life—not us. 

We’re here as collaborators, coconspirators… you get the idea. Reach out when you’re ready.


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It's All About the Numbers and Feelings but Also Numbers and Don't Forget Feelings 228Main.com Presents: The Best of Leibman Financial Services

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If All Your Friends Did It…

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“If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you?” Does this line give you any childhood flashbacks? (Rhetorical questions abound in today’s reflection!) We’ve been noticing the number of headlines featuring the word “concern.” 

  • “Is this development a cause for concern?” 
  • “Top officials express ‘concern’” 
  • “Latest numbers raise concern” 

Whether it’s about the latest COVID-19 ripple effect, consumer prices, or bottlenecks in different industries, there seems to be plenty of concern still going around. 

We’d like to pause here, though, for an important distinction: “concern” is not the same as “panic.” Life is full of “troubling developments.” We get to choose which stimuli rev us up and which improve our view of reality. Aren’t we better for having a more accurate picture? 

On a recent morning, I noticed lots of action online and in the news that might have startled some investors. I decided to spend a few hours in the office that I hadn’t planned on, just in case there were calls to catch from you, clients. There wasn’t a single ring. 

I should’ve known better. 

“If all your friends jumped into a panic, would you?” Of course not. In fact, there’s that other classic line that makes a lot more sense: “This is no time to panic.” 

Panic rarely helps. Those bursts of energy may have served us when it was time to run from an animal of prey, but these days that’s not exactly a regular demand.

Soothe your system, then let’s get some perspective, gather the facts… and go from there. The leap to panic is a shorter—but way more costly—trip. Clients, want to talk through anything troubling? You know I’m here for that. Write or call, anytime, and we’ll sort it out together.


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Beginnings and Endings

As the end of the year draws near, it makes sense to look back on where we have been—and to look forward at the path ahead.  

Our lives have threads; the life of our shared enterprise here at 228 Main does, too. One thread is talking with you, meeting you where you are, striving to connect your money to your life. Other threads pertain to finding worthy opportunities in which to invest, managing your portfolios to take advantage of that research, and communicating with you about what we are doing and why. 

It’s been an interesting year! The markets have been challenging; the economy is dealing with the aftermath of the shutdown and the restart relating to the pandemic. Disruptions continue to affect many aspects of our lives. 

Turmoil brings opportunity, of course, and we are always thinking about opportunities. Our underlying theory is that we survive, the economy recovers, and we end up sooner or later with record levels of GDP, income, and wealth. No guarantees, of course. 

In other words, a lot happened in 2022, but the big story has not changed. We are looking forward with anticipation to 2023. 

Our story may not have changed, but our structure is evolving to better reflect our work together. We have talked about the collaborative enterprise we’re becoming, and our regulatory structure will soon reflect that. I can’t work to age 92 by myself—and I would not want to! So the New Year will include a transition to a more sustainable form of organization. (More details will follow, and you can refer to our previous discussion on this process.) 

My sense is that we’re more capable than ever of taking care of business for you—with more time spent by more people searching for opportunities, managing portfolios, attending to the details of service, and communicating with you in more ways than ever. The new structure will be a better way to organize this reality. 

Clients, what are your plans and planning for the New Year? Any parts you’d like to talk about with us? Email or call, any time. 


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Do Health and Wealth Start with Gratitude?

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The Harvard Medical School published an essay some time ago on the power of gratitude, explaining:

“Gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”

Relish, improve, deal, build… Those are verbs we can get behind! Gratitude can be about past blessings, current conditions, or reflect a hopeful and optimistic attitude about the future. One of the best things about an attitude toward gratitude is that it can be cultivated.

In one cited study, three groups of people were directed to write a few sentences each week. One group was instructed to write about irritations or things that had displeased them. The second was directed to write about things that had affected them. The third group was directed to focus on things that had happened for which they were grateful.

After ten weeks, one group was more optimistic about life, and had a greater sense of wellbeing. (That group also happened to exercise more and make fewer visits to the doctor.) You can guess which.

We believe there are interesting implications for the work we do together with you. Short-term fluctuations in the markets may cause irritation, but gratitude for long-term returns might give us a broader perspective. The economy and markets always seem to be a mixed bag, but gratitude for opportunities may help us avoid a focus on problems that might prevent us from investing effectively.

At the heart of all this is a simple truth, that we get to choose what gets our attention. Does choosing gratitude make us healthier, wealthier, and wiser? No guarantees, but we might have more fun while we find out together.

Clients, if you would like to talk about this or anything else, please email us or call.


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An Attitude of Gratitude: Get Yourself a Slice 228Main.com Presents: The Best of Leibman Financial Services

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The Right Amount Is Best

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There are restless spirits all around us. The neighbor that seems to be racing everywhere they go, the friend that seems addicted to making big changes. There are people who make us wonder, “When will it be enough?”

Sometimes we are those people. Sometimes we look down only to realize we’re on a treadmill. But here’s the good news: there are plenty of ways to get our needs met, to not want for anything and to not be wrapped up in the wanting. We talk a lot about helping clients put words to their dreams, but dreams need not be lofty. Here are a few guidelines that have proven helpful.

“The right amount is best.” In her book Lagom, writer Niki Brantmark describes this Swedish principle of the same name. Not enough is not enough. Too much of a good thing can be a good thing, but often is not. The right amount is best.

Social comparison, or “keeping up with the Joneses” can corrode happiness or financial health, if we aren’t conscious of our emotions and purposeful about our responses and reactions. It helps to focus on our own needs, rather than what others have. (And I doubt the Joneses care what you have anyway.)

When working on goals, it sometimes helps to define three outcomes: minimum acceptable levels, reasonable targets that feel within reach, and “stretch” goals that require creative thinking and approaches to get to. This may help you be more aware of options and possibilities.

Life is not a cage, and we are not doomed to the hamster wheel. We are each the star of our own personal drama, and we get to decide what works.

Get your ticket, one life only!

Clients, if you would like to talk about your goals or anything else, please email us or call.


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It’s All Black-and-White (Except When It’s Gray)

It would be nice if the path were always clear or the choice always obvious. But a life aimed at the long haul is a little more complicated. No guarantees, but at least there’s plenty of good company here in the messy real world.


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Portfolio Themes: Fall 2022 Edition

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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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