Author: Leibman Financial Services

That Unimaginable Future

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As humans, we sometimes have trouble visualizing that which is not yet in existence. Back at the dawn of personal computing, when some were predicting that most homes would eventually have a computer in them, a common question was, “Why would they?”

People just struggled to imagine all the uses that would emerge.

Later, after the wonders of cable television spread across the land, talk of a new kind of communication technology arose—sort of a two-way or interactive television. These earliest visions of the internet were also met with dismissal, as people wondered what good that would be.

The lesson in this history? It may be that we are only ever scratching the surface of the potential capabilities of emerging technologies. There are many things on the horizon: ubiquitous internet access across the globe from low Earth orbit satellites, 5G and 6G and ever-faster connectivity, cloud storage of software and data at ever-decreasing prices, the “internet of things,” virtual reality and augmented reality, electronics in more and more devices… and much more.

The possibilities thrill us.

In our research, we assume that it’s beyond our capacity to foresee all the applications on the way, but we also believe that perhaps their ramifications can be guessed at. For instance…

  • More semiconductors will be needed for more devices.
  • Screens will show up in many new places on many new things, we can reasonably suppose.
  • We can readily imagine that mobile devices will handle increasing amounts of data and apps.
  • Information storage and traffic on mobile could expand exponentially.

So instead of pretending we can predict that unimaginable future, we strive to understand the structure of related industries and how these relationships might develop. Then we determine which established companies may benefit, and we’ll try to identify emerging companies with key technologies.

Then, we sort this out into what is investable, and we manage portfolios in keeping with this background. We don’t predict the future; we imagine some probable possibilities.

Clients, if you have some insight that might help us, or want to talk about this, please email us or call.


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Duck Season! Rabbit Season! Earnings Season!

photo shows a few ducks flying through a gray sky, tall grasses in the foreground

Maybe you’ve seen the classic cartoon that goes like this: Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, chased by the hunter Emler Fudd, start arguing over which animal Elmer is supposed to be hunting.

“Duck season!” Bugs yells.

“Rabbit season!” Daffy insists. And they continue back and forth until Bugs cleverly switches his response to “Rabbit season!” At this point Daffy Duck counters with the only logical response… “Duck season!”

And Elmer promptly shoots his foolish prey.

There is another, equally confounding (and sometimes comical season) you may have heard about: “Earnings season!”

Every company that issues publicly-traded stock is required by law to report about its financial wellbeing to investors and regulators, once every quarter. While every company has its own fiscal calendar and different companies report at different times, most companies stick to straightforward calendar quarters so major earnings reports tend to bunch together every three months.

In theory, the effects of this should be simple for investors: a company that posts a good performance should logically see stock gains, and a company that posts a poor performance should see stock losses.

But investors tend to view earnings reports through the lens of their expectations. A company that does well might be seen as a disappointment by investors who expected even better from it. And even when a company beats consensus expectations, some investors may second-guess the consensus and bet on an even bigger blowout.

All of this is to say that earnings season can be a very volatile time. Stock prices often swing wildly up and down in response to earnings reports, often in ways that are confusing or counterintuitive. If you listen to market commentary you may hear many different (often contradictory) explanations for why a company dropped on seemingly good earnings or rose on seemingly bad earnings.

It is a confusing experience, and trying to make sense of stock moves during earnings season might make you sympathize with Elmer Fudd.

While it can be alarming to witness stocks jump like this in the middle of earnings season, over the long run, much of that volatility will be forgotten. Ten years from now, do you think you will remember what one of your stock holdings did in response to one earnings report many years ago? The big investment news stories worth remembering will be about bigger news than a quarterly earnings report.

We already know stock investing involves volatility—and some of it comes around like clockwork every three months. Clients, if you are ever wondering about sudden market moves, give us a call before anybody goes daffy.


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Duck Season! Rabbit Season! Earnings Season! 228Main.com Presents: The Best of Leibman Financial Services

This text can be found at https://www.228Main.com/.

Resolution, Two Ways

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Clients, among you there are amateur (and even some pro!) photogs. If you have worked with cameras or graphics, you are familiar with the term “resolution.” It refers to the clarity of an image, one of the classic definitions of the word.

Another has to do with a sense of purpose. In our financial plans and planning, we are thinking about the person we want to be and the life we want to lead in the future. We have to consider where to wake up every day, what to do, how to spend our days… These issues are integral to setting our goals. When we know what we want to do or who we want to be, we may resolve to get there.

Or, another way… We may become resolute.

Taken together, both these definitions of “resolution” become powerful characteristics in the planning process. We seek clarity for our vision of the future, to get a high-resolution image in mind. Then we resolve to shape our actions toward our goal; in other words, we make a resolution.

Of course, nothing as momentous as our life plans could be that simple. Never having been to the future, our vision of it will likely need adjusting along the way. And success is less a matter of grit and grim resolution than figuring out the systems that will get us where we want to go, in the most effective, least obnoxious manner.

Rather than clarity about a singular goal, we may work toward building options. Perhaps we cannot yet know whether we will prefer to retire in-place or as a snowbird—or to move to the mountains or the sea. We might end up preferring becoming a picture of leisure or maybe endeavoring in a pleasant encore career in an area of interest. The key to holding options is having the resources that can fund different paths.

No matter the picture you envision, with some clarity and resolve, we believe lots of possibilities might take shape before our eyes.

Clients, if you would like to gain greater resolution about your goals, or develop the resolution to make more options available, email us or call.


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College Savings Ideas When There’s More Than One Kiddo

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Some things that seem complicated can be made simple. Other things, like college funding accounts for descendants, may get more complicated over time when more than one child is involved.

Consider how disparities may develop across account balances:

  • Imagine that, upon their birth, the first child receives a one-time deposit of $1,000; the second-born receives $100 monthly from birth to age 18; the third on the way is set to receive the same deal as either of the first two. However, this third child will necessarily have less purchasing power from the same amount in contributions. Why? In the years that have passed, inflation will have done its work.
  • One-time deposits may go in at a more advantageous time to invest for one child than another.
  • Equity among children will remain a shifting target as asset values and college costs change over time.

… And all this is before we even consider the differences in children’s needs.

One approach to simplify this reality is to think of college funding as a consolidated endeavor for the group, not as individual accounts. With a 529 plan owned by grandparents or a Roth IRA earmarked for education, this can be done. (We should note: owners of 529 college savings plans may change the beneficiaries among siblings or cousins with no adverse tax consequences.)

Consider this example. If there are seven grandchildren, you can allocate 1/7 of the total college fund balance to the oldest, then 1/6 of what remains to the second-oldest, and so on as each grandchild reaches college age.

In the case 529 college savings accounts are used, transfers may be needed to set up the oldest with the proper balance. If a Roth IRA is used, a withdrawal in the proper amount can be made by the grandparent to meet education expenses, then the “paid” child is removed from the beneficiary (or contingent beneficiary) provision.

Proceeds of a gift via Roth may of course be used for purposes other than education, a house down-payment for example.

Some clients who have 529 accounts for grandchildren make adjustments from time to time among grandchildren’s accounts to reflect each child’s individual needs and to maintain a better sense of equity. Others deposit equal amounts for each grandchild and do not worry about differences that emerge later.

One general rule in college funding: the more removed the funding is from the child, the less impact it may have on college aid formulas. A 529 account owned by the child is 100% available for college expenses, but a Roth IRA balance of a grandparent or parent has little or no impact.

Clients, we talk about options and alternatives; you make decisions. If you would like to talk about strategies for your children or grandchildren, email us or call.


Prior to investing in a 529 plan, investors should consider whether the investor’s or designated beneficiary’s home state offers any state tax or other state benefits such as financial aid, scholarship funds, and protection from creditors that are only available for investments in such state’s qualified tuition program. Withdrawals used for qualified expenses are federally tax-free. Tax treatment at the state level may vary. Please consult with your tax advisor before investing.


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College Funding Ideas When There’s More Than One Kiddo 228Main.com Presents: The Best of Leibman Financial Services

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If You Lived Here, You’d Be Home Right Now

photo shows a mountainous horizon and a sign reading "now" and "past" and "future"

Maybe you’ve seen a billboard that goes like this: “If you lived here, you’d be home right now.” I’ve seen them on many road trips, as advertising for local municipalities, tourism boards, rental agencies, and real estate agents.

These signs call out to us, trying to get us to leave the commute, the trip, and the journey behind—to be here, now.

It’s not a bad message, is it?

I’m not suggesting anybody pack and move the next time they see one of these signs, but in our financial lives, we sometimes get stuck in the past. And the costs add up. The past can crowd out the present in many ways. Maybe some of these phrases have shown up in your thinking?

“I should’ve…”

“I would’ve…”

“I could’ve…”

Some folks get stuck on past missteps; others regret not getting their own plan going sooner. Acknowledging our journey to this point is important, but unless it brings us up to the present moment, we’re facing the wrong way for the journey ahead.

Letting the past live rent-free in our thoughts means we spend less time living here, now. “You could be home right now.” The secret? Embracing this present moment.

Clients, want to talk about where you are and where you’re headed? Write or call.


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If You Lived Here, You'd Be Home Right Now 228Main.com Presents: The Best of Leibman Financial Services

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

DIY, DIFM, or In-Between

photo shows a picture of a desktop with wooden letters saying "DIY," scissors, block, beads, and other craft supplies

In many industries, people distinguish between DIY and DIFM: “do-it-yourself” versus “do-it-for-me.” The same is true of investing and financial planning.

Whether you are trying to build a deck or a retirement portfolio, the internet is full of pertinent information to help you on your way. You may not be a carpenter, but you may have the tools and skills to build a deck. Add some information, time, and motivation, perhaps that new deck will appear in your backyard through your own efforts.

A successful DIYer has all of those things. It does not always work out, but when it does, someone has used their own skills and efforts to do something many others pay for.

When the do-it-for-me or DIFM route works out, people trade money for the time and abilities of professionals in order to get what they want and need. I’ve mentioned before that I mow my lawn with a checkbook—a textbook case of DIFM.

When it comes to plans and financial planning, we believe that is either a DIY thing—you are the expert on your plans and planning—or a collaborative process of discovery. We may support your efforts, help you define or refine what you’re trying to do, maybe do some arithmetic, but you are still the expert.

On the investment front, though, we operate on a DIFM basis. We strive to grow the buckets: we research investments and manage portfolios for those who do not want to go the do-it-yourself route. DIYers have plenty of resources available other places; we’re busy trying to grow the buckets for those who say “do it for me.”

(Of course, our perspectives on everything from planning to investing are available online 24/7 to anyone with an interest in reading our blogs, listening to the podcasts, or watching the videos. There are some DIYers who check in regularly there. But our one-to-one efforts all go to investment services on a DIFM basis.)

Anybody could be a DIYer, in any number of areas… but it doesn’t mean you have to DIY. Clients, if you would like to talk about this or anything else, please email us or call.


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Our Schedule Is Your Schedule

photo shows a pen pointing at a calendar with the word "You!" circled

The best clients in the whole world rarely disappoint. We’ve built trust together across decades of conversations, in some cases. Newer faces have gotten to know me and my work, online or through friends and relatives.

But there are certain things that just break my heart to hear from you.

“I know you’re busy…”

“Mark, I’m so sorry to bother you…”

“I don’t want to take your time…”

Ouch. I can feel the pain even as I type those words! Let me set the record straight.

Sure, I’m busy. If there were three of me, we’d all be busy. But I choose to direct my time toward your business: your plans, your goals, and our discussions about all of the above!

One of my staff members once told me it wasn’t possible for me to waste their time, because there’s no way they would allow that! If I were in danger of wasting their time, they would tell me. (We’re all adults here, right?)

Clients, you can trust me to be direct about my schedule and my priorities. And my goodness, you are the reason I’m here. I’ve got a whole team to help me with the details, so I get to spend more of my time doing more of what I love: my day job.

My time is your time is our time. When you’re ready, reach out.


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