We Walk a Bridge to the Future

Walking one of my favorite paths recently, I came to this modest bridge over a small stream.

It occurred to me that if I went across it, I would arrive in the future—say, a minute later. But carrying it one step farther, when you think about it, the whole rest of my life was waiting for me on the other side of that bridge.

(They say exercise and nature both boost creativity. Creativity—isn’t that a polite word for the thoughts and connections spinning in my head?)

When I woke up the next morning, the idea was still with me, and still growing. The whole rest of my life was waiting for me when I threw the covers off and got out of bed. The whole rest of my life was waiting for me when I walked out the door to begin the new day.

We strive to make the most of the moments as they come. And we treasure the lessons and memories we’ve accumulated. Life is partly a question of balancing the present moment—and the past—with the possibilities of the future.

The future is where things may be different and better; it is still malleable in a way the past is not.

Likewise, our work with you reflects these elements of time. We try to understand the past: where you are coming from. And the present: your current situation. And the future: what you are aiming for.

Balance among these things is vital. Thinking about the future, we may make tomorrow’s moments better. Understanding the past, we get a sense of the narrative and continuity of our lives. But the present moment is where we live, where we have the chance to find happiness.

Clients, if you are ready to improve our understanding of your past, or present, or future, please email us or call.


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Glitch Your Heart Out

graphic shows pixelated squares of colors

A certain mouse-led studio put out a movie a few years back, one in which the main character befriends a spunky racecar driver named Vanellope. Maybe you’ve seen it?

She was the underdog of the arcade, struggling for a chance to compete in the game Sugar Rush. The other racers didn’t want Vanellope “The Glitch” von Schweetz competing. She had a condition that made her pixelate: her whole body would blink and she’d go temporarily blurry. Doesn’t sound fair, huh?

Spoiler alert: Vanellope soon discovers that this bug is actually a feature. Once she gets to know her glitching, she is able to use it to her advantage and glitches herself around obstacles on the track. The others come to respect her condition as just one part of her—a strength, even.

We’ve written before about identifying your own superpowers. Your human capital—those skills, qualities, and desires that can be used in the service of your fellow human beings—is one of your strongest assets. (It’s a fabulous place to start out when you’re starting out.)

But here’s a “life hack” for you: reconsider your weaknesses, too.

Most qualities become liabilities when taken to their extreme, but with some perspective… well, we wonder if those “weaknesses” might be tempered to become strengths. Aren’t the quirks what make us unique? Aren’t they the things that make our point of view so valuable to others?

We don’t mean to suggest that any situation can be reframed this way. If something in our lives is harming our health or wellbeing, it may require more than this to address the heart of the issue.

But no one is alone in this process, either. It’s been a joy for us to get to know where you are on your journeys. For all the twists and turns, the climbs, and the obstacles, what a pleasure to be on the road with you!

Clients, want to talk about this or anything else? Write or call.


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New Year, Old Prediction

Second verse, same as the first! Well, maybe you’ve been hearing this from me for a few years now. What’s the market outlook for 2022? I’ve got a hot take for you in this week’s video.


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Half-Century Headlines: The 50-Year Financial Times of You!

photo shows a newspaper under a magnifying glass that reads "GOOD NEWS!"

Clients, we’ve discussed before how the pain of a loss is felt two times more greatly than the happiness from a corresponding gain. While this may be how our human brains are designed to experience things, we do have a chance to intervene: we get to define what a loss is. We also have the ability to recognize how time affects our experiences of pain and happiness.

Often, our losses occur suddenly: a quick drop in the market, the sudden failure of an engine, the physical (or emotional) loss of a friend.

Gains are usually slow-building: years and decades spent with a loved one, miles upon miles with your favorite car, the slow climb to retirement wealth. It’s hard to appreciate the full happiness of the good times in the moment. The quick strike of the sad times, however, tends to linger.

Journalists Stacey Vanek Smith and Cardiff Garcia put it this way: “This combination of sudden, bad things and slow, good things can mess up the way we see the world. We notice the sudden but miss the gradual.”

So the daily news cycle is successful in part because of that pain. Consider for a minute a world where there isn’t daily news. In this world, you get one newspaper every December 31, recapping all of the important things that happened that year. What would make the front page?

Now extend the time horizon. What makes the front page of a once-in-a-decade newspaper?

We encourage you to take this exercise and apply it to your financial life. Call it The 50-Year Financial Times of You. What’s above the fold? Would any of the four major financial crashes of the past 50 years get the top spot? How about that $4 that you spent on a coffee last Tuesday?

Clients, we each have the byline in our own 50-Year Financial Times of You. We’re grateful to be among your readers, and humbled when we’re included in the process—even if it’s in the funny pages.


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Half-Century Headlines: The 50-Year Financial Times of You 228Main.com Presents: The Best of Leibman Financial Services

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The Great Myth of Mind-Reading

photo shows a large white question mark on a chalkboard

A friend of ours tells the story of an argument they once had with a parent. Both parties got more and more frustrated, realizing that they were not on the same page—and things were only getting more tangled.

Things escalated until the parent threw their hands up helplessly and yelled, “Listen to what I mean, not what I say!”

Funny, huh? Yet it sounds so familiar to many of us.

We do our best here at 228 Main to express ourselves clearly. We want to make our expectations known, to expedite understanding, but we know that words have their limits. When I say “chair,” you may picture a dining chair while I was thinking of a throne! When you say “retirement”… well, see where I’m going with this?

It happens in the financial news, too. Pundits think they can get into the minds of investors, to read each decision as if it were the same as an inner monologue. If anyone could read minds, though, wouldn’t a lot of people be right a little more often?

Instead, we like to remember our limits. How many resentments, how much confusion could be eased if we turned to the important people in our lives and said, “Oops! Forgot… You can’t read my mind.”

We believe an important ground rule for our work is that we will not treat each other as if we’re all mind-readers.

Clients, fair enough? With this in mind, please reach out when you’ve got anything worth mentioning—and we’ll do our best to check our understanding, together.


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Market Outlook 2022

photo shows hands around a glowing crystal ball

It is that time of year! Prognosticators and pundits issue their forecasts for the year ahead. Wouldn’t it be nice to know what the future holds? Some forecasts are hedged, don’t really say much.

But our prediction is quite specific.

For those who have visited our offices, you know that we actually do have a crystal ball. It forecasts the direction of the stock market for the coming year. It does not say how far the market will go, but it always predicts the direction.

If you knew which way the stock market was going to go, could you make money investing?

Here’s the catch: our crystal ball has only been 74% accurate. So perhaps the question should be, “If you knew which way the stock market was going to go 74% of the time, could you make money investing?”

Without further ado, here is what our crystal ball says about the direction of the stock market for the year beginning January 1: it will go up.

Long-time observers will not be surprised. The crystal ball always says the market is going up. It has never predicted a down year. And checking back over the past hundred years, according to Standard & Poor’s, this prediction has been right 74% of the time.

We can’t know how well the track record will hold up, but we believe this presents a favorable backdrop against which to buy bargains, to avoid stampedes in the markets, and to seek to own the orchard for the fruit crop. In other words, to keep on keeping on, following our principles and plans and strategies. And remember the long haul sets its sights beyond the coming year.

It is tempting here to include a discussion of the economy, the strengths and weaknesses we perceive at this moment. We’ll leave that to people with more time on their hands.

But if your plans are evolving and deserve some attention in the new year, please email us or call.

Cheers to 2022, friends.


This material is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. There is no assurance that the views or strategies discussed are suitable for all investors or will yield positive outcomes.

Investing involves risks including possible loss of principal. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results.

Any economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and are subject to change.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index is a capitalization weighted index of 500 stocks designed to measure performance of the broad domestic economy through changes in the aggregate market value of 500 stocks representing all major industries.

All indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly.


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Life Is Short… Pick What’s Precious

photo shows a winding path through brush on a causeway

Decades ago, my father told me something about perspective. He said, “The mortality rate is 100%.” It was a lesson, one which gave me a better understanding of his terminal illness. But the more lasting perspective is the one it gave me on life, a lesson that reminds me how precious—and short—life is.

We got into a discussion recently with a person who is close to retiring from an active career. After getting a sense for what life in retirement might look like for them, our talks focused on money and numbers.

After it became evident that this whole retirement thing could work out, anxiety about the change began to build.

When we spend four or five decades earning a paycheck, having them every month for several hundred months in a row, it is sort of jarring to step into the unknown—to live without the steady comfort of that paycheck coming in. Some uneasiness is understandable.

It is one thing to understand the concept of owning the orchard for the fruit crop—living off your portfolio—but it is a whole different thing to trust that concept with your wellbeing and way of life.

Yet if we never make that leap of faith, we might labor at a job forever, even one that drains us, even when our means actually exceed our needs.

And we can’t think or logic our way out of facing our feelings. (If we could, many of us would’ve already flexed our smarts and sidestepped these pesky feelings, right?)

So perhaps it is useful to try to finish this sentence: “Life is short, we better __.”

The fact is, time is what life is made of. Another day spent as an employee is one not spent on our own, personal priorities. When we fill in the blank, we are defining those priorities.

Clients, if you would like to talk about how you would fill in the blank, or finance it, please email us or call.


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Growth Expectations and Searching the Bargain Bin

photo shows a pair of binoculars sitting on their case

I’m familiar with someone known to venture out on sunny weekend mornings to wander local garage sales. Their first target, wherever they stop, is usually to the area marked “FREE.” This is the stuff that the sellers don’t want so badly they wouldn’t even bother with a price tag.

My acquaintance is a bargain hunter. They know that there’s a chance they find something that can be repurposed or reused, that could bring them value far beyond the cost of finding it.

We here at 228 Main spend much of our research time searching for bargains, too. Occasionally, this takes us to Mr. Market’s version of the “FREE” table—things that seem so undervalued by most investors, we may get rewarded. These opportunities get to a point where things can’t possibly be as bad as people are saying (no guarantees, mind you).

But as we’ve been growing, our thinking on this has stretched a little. Sure, we still dig for the bargains of old, but we are also looking at things that our fellow bargain hunters might call “overvalued.”

When a stock is labeled as “overvalued” (by us, the financial news outlets, Wall Street…), typically the labeler is leaving out the “right now” part.

Since we’re investors, aimed at the long haul, the “right now” part is less interesting to us. Instead…

  • How long does “right now” last?
  • Is the price fair right now knowing that we’re buying for the next 3–5 years?
  • Are we paying a reasonable price for the next… however many years of future growth?

Again, we can’t promise that future growth pans out, but a good story, an intriguing product mix, and some competent management are all things we’re considering for these growth-y companies. It’s exciting.

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


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Growth Expectations and Searching the Bargain Bin 228Main.com Presents: The Best of Leibman Financial Services

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