Author: Leibman Financial Services

A Birthday Approaches

photo shows a carousel with a city in the background

My birthday is approaching, and I’m ruminating about the meaning of another year in the life—but you already know how much I like to take a step back, get the big picture, and imagine the long view.

22, 44, 66—or, my life in thirds.

I’m thinking about my life in thirds: 22 years of getting ready, 22 years of gaining experience, and 22 years building this lovely enterprise at 228 Main. That’s right, I’m turning 66, wondering what the next 22 years will bring.

It feels like the years ahead will be about growing the team that runs the firm, building capabilities and capacity, putting the next generation in position to do better work than ever for you—and for the coming generations, too.

While we work to refine our methods and strategies and tactics, we’ll honor the same principles we always have, and we’ll live by the same values: the better off you are, the better off we will likely be. So the center of our work will always be about striving to grow your buckets, to focus on your outcomes.

I’m down to my last 26 years now… Mark your calendars for the retirement party: May 27, 2048!

I appreciate you for being with me on this journey thus far. Thank you. I would not trade my spot with any of the other 7 billion of us, it’s been so good.

Stop in and see us, anytime.


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Joining a New Club: Some Thoughts about Social Security

Claiming Social Security benefits is often talked about in formulas, as if it’s always straightforward. Nonmathematical factors—and feelings—should be given their due weight, it turns out. More in this week’s chat.


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Social Security: Facts and Feelings

photo shows a stack of Social Security cards

We have written from time to time about the role of Social Security retirement benefits in your plans and planning. I have new perspectives on the process, based on my new status: I’m a Social Security recipient! 

I’ve got two interesting and useful lessons from my process so far. 

First, in my separate discussions with two Social Security Administration employees, a piece of misinformation emerged. A written summary of a telephone appointment contained a major error, one that would have had negative consequences if left uncorrected. 

Second, working through the actual numbers, the arithmetic favoring one start date versus another was not nearly as compelling as I expected. Claiming benefits is often talked about in formulas, as if it’s always straightforward. Nonmathematical factors—and feelings—should therefore be given due weight, it turns out. 

Because of the first lesson, I feel even more committed to join each of you as you go through the actual application process. The information is murky, humans can make errors, we can lose pivotal details in the mix… But I would love to try to help make sure the process comes out as you would like it to. 

The second lesson underlines something we’ve always believed: your situation, your feelings, your preferences and vision for your cash flow needs absolutely must be part of the equation. Nobody knows the date going on their death certificate, so there is no way to “prove” in advance the “best” time to claim Social Security. 

What will work out best for you in your real life? That’s the question. 

Social Security is a significant fraction of retirement income for most people, so taking some time to examine and explore options well ahead of time makes sense. We’re here for that. If you are within a few years of retirement, keep watching this space: we will keep discussing what options are available in more detail and how we might approach the choices. 

Clients, if you are ready to talk about your retirement plans and planning, please email us or call. 


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This text is available at https://www.228Main.com/.

A Million-Dollar Retirement Idea

Wondering what it takes to retire early? It’s not a universal formula, but we can take the idea of accumulating a million dollars of invested capital as a decent proxy. How might the numbers shake out?


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Feel the Churn

Back in the snowbird chapter of my life, we learned that stormy weather—rough seas—washed a wealth of interesting shells up on the beach. Looking for shells was always more fruitful when the weather had been rough.

The world situation and our markets have been nothing if not stormy this year! War has few parallels as a human tragedy; the economic ramifications are widespread.

Some of our holdings have risen in price because of the disruptions: raw materials and miners and energy, for example. Others have gone the other way.

But overall, we’re pleased with how our holdings have behaved.

Just as rough weather washes shells up on the beach, we’ve found new opportunities in the rough markets. The other thing that turmoil brings us is the chance to rebalance—take some money off the top of things that have gone up, add to the bargains that emerge among our holdings.

While some are paralyzed by the commotion, we’re finding that our principles are serving us well:

  • We look for the best bargains
  • We own the orchard for the fruit crop
  • We avoid stampedes in the market

Clients, want to talk more about what this means for you? Reach out, at any time.


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Three Cheers for Larry!

Coincidence, good timing, good fortune… Whatever you call it, something wonderful happened to bring Larry Wiederspan into my life and later into our shop. Clients, three cheers for Larry as he closes a chapter working here at 228 Main.


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Serendipity, or, the Mark and Larry Story

graphic shows a framed collage of headshots of each of the six members of the office staff (Patsy, Larry, Mark, Caitie, Greg, and Billy)

It’s the way events might occur by chance, to our happiness or benefit. 

It’s coincidence. 

It’s good luck. 

And maybe sometimes it’s providence. All of these could define the word “serendipity.” And all describe my long association with Larry Wiederspan. 

I met Larry in one of my earliest incarnations in business, as a life insurance agent working with country banks and bankers. The owners of a small chain of banks asked me to go out west to see one of their branch office managers at a location 200 miles away, in the middle of Nebraska, to implement a benefit plan. 

We hit it off. I ended up making return trips to work with Larry and even his wife Marilyn on their own plans and planning. As my skills and services evolved, they came along with me. 

Over the years, some of Larry’s strengths came to the surface: integrity, diligence, good faith, attention to detail, and friendliness. Then serendipity struck about ten years ago, when I learned that they were thinking about a move to my neighborhood after Marilyn’s retirement. His characteristics and traits were something that our shop needed, and he was about to join the neighborhood. 

At the time, increasing regulatory requirements meant that files needed updating and business processes became more cumbersome—precisely when family health issues took me out of the shop for weeks at a time. I could easily have been that person who had a great business until… illness befell the family. 

Larry retired from his banking career, a higher-stress and longer-hours endeavor than the more relaxed pace of the position we created for him at 228 Main. Larry and Marilyn moved closer to their grandchildren. It was a big win for everyone. 

Clients, you and we obtained the benefits of knowing and working with Larry. We’ve enjoyed Larry’s association for longer than we expected we’d get, as he enjoyed his work too. 

But he tells us the time has come for more retirement-type activities and less work. We’ll soon be short the regular company of this conscientious and pleasant fellow who means so much to us. We are still here in part because he was here for us. 

My gratitude will never repay the debt I owe Larry.

There is some chance a special project or circumstance may bring him back for a spell, but at this time it would be appropriate for you to join me in thanking Larry for his many years of service here, if you are so moved. 

In the meantime, clients, we’ll still be taking care of business—and we’re learning how to do that without Larry’s help. Call or email us about anything you might need. 

Cheers, Larry! 


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Serendipity, or, the Mark and Larry Story 228Main.com Presents: The Best of Leibman Financial Services

This text is available at https://www.228Main.com/.

What Rough Seas Wash Up

Back in the snowbird chapter of my life, we learned that looking for shells was always more fruitful when the weather had been rough. The world situation and our markets have been nothing if not stormy this year! What has come out of the churn so far?


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Portfolio Themes: Spring 2022 Updates

graphic shows blooming white flowers and text reading "portfolio themes: spring 2022 updates"

In our portfolio management, we try to pick and choose our spots. We’re investing for the long term, after all. We are not indexers; we invest in individual companies for their unique characteristics and the potential behind their story. We avoid knee-jerk reactions to any day-to-day news.  

Sometimes, though, the daily news covers an issue that’s big enough to linger. Much of the news cycle lately has been dedicated to the war in Ukraine. The implications for the global economy are profound and have a direct impact on our work. 

The war may be accelerating trends that were already there, but now they are more pressing. 

OIL, ENERGY, FOOD, & BEYOND 

Maybe you’ve noticed at the gas station, but one of the big impacts is the price of oil. In the short term, we foresee great profits for oil companies, but skyrocketing oil prices and energy uncertainty have also renewed interest in the next energy revolution. Solar power and electric vehicles have been on their way for a long time, but the world needs them more urgently than ever before. 

These issues are interconnected with trends in agriculture. Ukraine and Russia are not only both food producers: they’re even bigger producers of fertilizers, supplies, and equipment. Agricultural commodities were already on the rise before war broke out, so food producers around the world were already investing heavily in new planting. The journey ahead will be interesting for even “boring” food production and distribution companies, but greater profits may be rapidly approaching. 

THE IMPACT OF INTEREST RATES 

Those rising prices have energized more interest in durable commodities such as copper and gold, which we’ve been following in our shop for a long time

But the double whammy of rising interest rates and rising materials costs has a cooling effect on the housing industry, which we have been easing out of by steps. The shortage in the nation’s housing supply persists—and probably will for a spell. For now, homebuilders are a longer-term, lower-priority investment for us. 

WHAT THE PANDEMIC MEANS FOR TECH 

In times of strife, investors tend to seek comfort and safety, so more volatile sectors such as technology are starting to come back down to earth. We believe this may create buying opportunities in software and internet companies, which are less vulnerable to high interest rates and commodity prices. (They are often light on debt and low on material costs.) 

Even as COVID-19 continues across the globe, some areas of life have become more manageable. The air is clearing a little for airlines and travel stocks, although we are more interested in another area of potential: biotech and pharmaceutical companies. While pharmacy stocks may be easing as the pandemic rally subsides, we are looking forward to new breakthroughs in the years ahead. The advances made in the pandemic, we believe, will prove to offer even more applications elsewhere in the future. 

TAKING STOCK 

The world is a complex place. As always, our thinking evolves on a weekly basis through our research process. Our vision, however, stays trained on these longer-term trends—and what they mean for our longer-term plans and planning. 

Clients, want to know what this means for your portfolio? Please email us or call. 


Content in this material is for general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.  

Stock investing includes risks, including fluctuating prices and loss of principal. 

The economic forecasts set forth in this material may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful. 


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Play the audio version of this post below:

This text is available at https://www.228Main.com/.