Author: Leibman Financial Services

Living on Purpose

photo shows a highway stretching out into a blue sky

Some say the young believe themselves immortal. When our whole lives seem to be ahead of us, it feels like there is plenty of time to do whatever we intend to do.

But we know the mortality rate is 100% in the long run. More than 3 million people died last year in the United States, about 1 person in 100.

And in our experience, many people coming to grips with their own mortality come to believe that life is short—no matter their age.

If it’s true, then how do you fill in the blank? “Life is short, I better ___________.”

In the prior chapter of my life, we filled in the blank with “we better have a little fun every day.” That’s still appropriate in this chapter, but I ponder what else fits in the blank these days.

Interestingly, some things are so basic to our natures they go without saying. A person who is consistently kind and empathetic to others might not think to fill in the blank with “be kind” because it is assumed. So thinking about how you might fill in the blank is another way to be intentional about how you live, to do things on purpose.

Maybe that’s what all this is about. By the end of the road, I’d like to know that I meant the things I did and did the things I meant to.

How about you?

Clients, life is short. How can we serve you—and help you connect your money with your one precious life? Call or email, anytime.


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Dimes for Sale: 8 for $1!

photo shows a stack of 8 dimes

You may never see an offer like this. No one would buy, right? It is too obviously a bad deal.

But people get tricked into doing essentially the same thing, all the time. Buying insurance you do not need is a lot like buying dimes, eight for a buck.

A recent retiree told us about being offered “Medicare Supplement Plans” where the one that had a potential $180 per year exposure to deductibles was $250 cheaper than the one that featured full coverage. The agent said most people prefer the “better” policy, desiring full coverage. But when you think about it, why pay $250 to save $180?

Another told us of a proposal to buy long-term care insurance, which sometimes makes sense. But this person supported a lifestyle that already cost more than long-term care, a lifestyle whose expenses would disappear if the need for home care or assisted living or long-term residential care emerged. A more expensive lifestyle would disappear if the cheaper long-term care lifestyle came into play. No coverage needed!

These thoughts came to mind as I cancelled a disability policy into which I had faithfully paid each month for forty years, one that would have provided needed benefits when I had large family obligations and little in the way of other resources.

Insurance is a marvelous invention. We believe in buying all of it that you need—and none that you don’t.

Otherwise, you’re buying dimes, eight for a buck.

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


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To Cheap or Not To Cheap: It’s Not Really a Question!

photo shows a dictionary page with the definition of "quality"

Remember Rich Uncle Pennybags? He’s the mascot from Monopoly. Top hat, monocle, sacks of cash. As kids, he might have been the cartoonish dream for some of us, the ultimate image of what “rich” looks like.

Obviously the reality is different, and our dreams mature as we do. Clients, in our conversations with you, it doesn’t seem like his life or image is the one you’re pining for.

But there is one surprising realization about the life of the “rich”: it is usually much, much less expensive to be rich than to be poor.

Why? Having money enables us to live more efficiently and avoid many painful financial pitfalls.

To begin with, credit may sound like a bargain—after all, you’re getting more money now than you otherwise could spend! But there really isn’t any such thing as “cheap credit.” If you are able to lay down cash for major purchases, you don’t just save on fees and interest: you may even be able to negotiate a better price.

If you are funding large items on a credit card, you are likely to wind up paying many times what they are worth. If you find yourself in a spot where you need to turn to high-risk credit in the form of payday loans, things get even worse.

There are other ways that having money allows you to stretch your resources out, too. Buying quality merchandise may take more money up front, but the alternative is buying shoddy products: if you find cheap furniture that falls apart every year or two, you’re still paying to replace pieces more often. You may save money in the long run by paying more up front. (Of course, care must still be taken to select your purchases carefully: higher cost does not always correlate to higher quality!)

Also, when you have a life of plenty you have the luxury of being able to shop around and wait for a better price. The rich get to be rich in time, too. Be a little choosy, not cheap.

These habits are ones that all of us can use to help us build and maintain our own wealth.

The wonderful conundrum that some have discovered is this: the less you spend, the more wealth you accrue; the more wealth you have, the less you need to spend.

Clients, write or call when you’d like to talk about what this means for you.


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


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To Cheap or Not To Cheap: It's Not Really a Question! 228Main.com Presents: The Best of Leibman Financial Services

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

The One and Only Us

graphic shows a framed picture on a wall with a collage of all six 228Main.com employees smiling

Clients, I’m one of a kind. I’ve worked many years and traveled many paths to be the person I am today.

Even though I’m the one and only Mark Leibman, I get to do what I do as part of an amazing team at 228 Main. I notice this truth now more than ever.

The enterprise has three core activities:

  • We talk with you about your plans and planning, to sort out how best to connect your money to your life—your goals.
  • We research and manage investments, striving to grow your long-term buckets.
  • We take care of the logistics and paperwork you need to try to get where you are going.

I sometimes say I am in business to talk all day, but as you can see from these notes, it takes the whole team to make that possible.

Four of us here in the shop contribute to our communications. Three of us collaborate on investment research and analyze portfolios. Two focus on logistics and paperwork, taking care of details.

While I spend the most time with you, Caitie Leibman directs our communications, which really is just another way to talk to you, with contributions from Greg Leibman, and Billy Garver, and me. Greg, Billy, and I work on research and portfolios. And Patsy Havenridge and Larry Wiederspan take care of service—the paperwork and logistics.

The buck stops with me, of course: I take responsibility for investment decisions and trading and recommendations and everything, but I could never accomplish by myself the things we are able to do as a team. We are working with more than $100 million for clients in twenty states.

I’ve often said that if there were three of me, we’d all be busy. But the world does not need any more copies of me. Every member of the 228 Main team knows that the better off you are, the better off we will be—and they each contribute skills and abilities I don’t have.

I couldn’t be more proud of them.

Clients, is there anything for which you could use our team’s perspective? Call or write, anytime.


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Probabilities Versus Possibilities

photo shows a goldfish with a shark fin strapped to it swimming with the fin above water

Our energy is a finite resource. Sure, we consume food and we sleep to replenish our bodies, but they too don’t last forever. The basic formula for kinetic energy requires velocity—movement. But we don’t always direct our movement in the most skillful ways.

For instance, we humans are great at focusing on low-probability events. After all, these are the events that catch headlines: “if it bleeds, it leads” the saying goes. (I mean, how do you think the world ended up with Shark Week?)

We wrote recently about bear attacks, among all things, and now we’re thinking more deeply about these ideas. What if instead of placing so much energy into unlikely (albeit scary) events, we limit our focus a little: what if we focused more instead on what’s probable?

In the markets, we hope to see at least the typical patterns of probability. Some ups and downs every year, a general trajectory of more up than down across almost any stretch of five or more years. No guarantees. But these are the general probabilities of the long-term proposition.

We don’t lock into losses by treating drops like the end of the world. Of course fatal shark attacks do happen, they are real, but we don’t stay out of the pool because one time somebody got eaten out in the open sea. That just wouldn’t make a ton of sense, huh?

The possibilities are endless, and they could consume us until our last breath. Let’s direct more energy toward what’s probable.

Clients, want to discuss what’s probable and suitable for your situation? Reach out anytime.


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

The Twenty Stock Concept: A Deep Dive

Clients, you know that our communications are you-centric: we prefer to focus on the situations, challenges, and concerns facing you. But from time to time it makes sense to talk about the tools and techniques we use to meet those issues. Let us give you some background and then introduce a strategy that’s become an important tool in portfolio reviews: the Twenty Stock Concept.

There are many ways to invest for the long haul, and we strive to participate in the growth of the economy over time. Many people’s financial objectives require the growth of capital, whether to improve their financial position, build toward retirement, or preserve purchasing power.

We manage individual stocks for people (which, by the way, is one of the services that sets our shop apart). Because we prefer to invest in the ownership of carefully chosen companies rather than buy investment products made of hundreds of holdings, it’s become more and more important for us to develop a systematic and efficient way to monitor and adjust portfolios over time.

At any given time, our Buy List includes 30 to 35 equity opportunities, which we supplement with more diversified ballast holdings. Client accounts may then wind up with even more names in them, as sometimes positions are held even after they’ve rotated off the Buy List. Doing it this way creates a lot of moving parts…

… which is where the Twenty Stock Concept comes in! This strategy helps us pare things back to only those parts of our investment philosophy that we feel are most fundamental. This list of holdings becomes the template from which we work for new portfolios and for reviews of existing portfolios.

The foundation of the Twenty Stock Concept is great companies trading at fair prices. These are usually blue-chip companies that dominate their sectors. They are our first picks, and we expect to hold them for a long time. We usually have 10 to 12 of these blue chips on our list.

To round out the list, we select what we perceive to be the best opportunities from the rest of the Buy List. These will include cyclical companies that we hope and believe we are purchasing at favorable points in the cycle. The rest of the opportunities may include other bargains from anywhere else in the investment universe.

Because the Twenty Stock Concept is a starting place, a template, not all of our holdings are fundamental enough to make the cut.

What gets left out? Our main investment approach also includes a handful of speculative growth-seeking holdings. Some of these may be smaller, unproven companies that we see explosive potential in. Others are regional or sector plays in areas that may or may not pan out. We think there is a place for these holdings—otherwise we would not have them to begin with. But some clients may not need or want the turnover and volatility they bring.

As an in-house system, the Twenty Stock Concept serves two functions for us: it allows us to provide a focused offering for those who prefer to own a smaller number of names, and it gives us a consistent approach that we makes our services available to smaller accounts than we would otherwise have the capacity to manage.

No guarantees, of course. We base our work on our opinions; no matter how carefully we do our research, sometimes the future confounds us.

But it is intensely interesting, and often rewarding. Clients, if you would like to talk about this or anything else, please email or call.


Investing involves risk including loss of principal.

No strategy assures success or protects against loss.


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Minding the Bears

photo shows a rocky mountain trail

One recent morning, I was lucky enough to be hiking on a mountain trail with my sister. The air was crisp and clear, the smell of the pines was thick—a beautiful day.

We came across animal tracks, then more animal tracks, on the muddy parts of the trail.

We knew before we started that there were bears in the neighborhood. (In fact, one might say we were in the bears’ neighborhood!) The tracks seemed to have the shape of claws, with a size and depth that impressed me with a desire to avoid a meeting.

It seemed as good a time as any to turn around, so we did. My senses were on high alert as we began to descend. We reached the trailhead without incident.

Later, I looked up the facts about bear attacks. Only one out of 175 million people worldwide is the victim of a fatal bear attack each year, fewer than two in the whole United States.

The danger I perceived was far larger than the actual risk involved.

This reminds me of where we are in the investment markets. It seems to be the economic equivalent of a beautiful day: the market has had a sharp rebound from the pandemic lows of 2020. Yet some are concerned about the bear (a bear market meaning, of course, a big decline).

Just as there are plenty of bears in the wooded mountains, there are regular declines in the stock market. Some estimate that 10 to 15% declines are routine each year. But fear of the bear often seems to be greater than the actual damage a bear market might do to long-term investors.

Learning to live with the ups and downs, one may benefit from long-term growth in value. But fear of a decline that proves to be temporary—and rarely truly catastrophic—may lead one to sell out long before money is actually needed, with future gains foregone.

Clients, thank you for inviting us to hike the trails of your life with you. If you would like to talk bears or mountains or markets, please email us or call.


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