Connection, through the Ages

photo shows a gravel towpath along a blue river

I recently traveled through part of the history of communications. I was on a trip to the northeast. On one morning walk, I was able to reflect on how each age has had its own modes, connecting people and places with ever-newer technology. 

This topic is of natural interest to us: communication is a major element of our connection with you. 

For hundreds of years, the rich resources and strategic locales of the Potomac River watershed served as a major crossroads for coastal and inland indigenous groups. Colonizers arrived, and the river also carried settlers and European traders. 

Begun in 1811, the National Pike became the first major highway built by the federal government. Its right-of-way is still in use in many places. I walked on it to get to a canal. 

I followed the path where mules once pulled the boats; the land is a park now and may be hiked its 185-mile length. It stretches along the Potomac from D.C. to Cumberland, Maryland. 

Railroad tracks run nearby, tracks from the nation’s first common carrier—the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad—whose service began in 1834. 

Copper wires stretched over my head, another legacy of the 19th century. The B&O right-of-way was used to construct the first telegraph route in the country. 

By the 1960s, parts of this land were crisscrossed with bridges over the new Interstate Highway System. 

I saw all of this on a short morning walk. Add to the list the phone I used to take a picture of the river and the towpath! And these are only a few of the major communication developments we’re witness to every day. 

The means and modes of our connections may change over time, but we suspect the desire to live our lives as social creatures will persist. Clients, if you would like to talk about this or anything else, please email us or call. 


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Letting Go of When

Any worthwhile goal is not just about the finish line. And good thing: we’re investing for the long term, and a lot can happen between now and the milestones we seek!


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Live It Like You Mean It

photo shows sunrise over a lake at the Louisville State Rec Area

You may know already: we generally advocate simplicity in most things. Once our basic needs are met, we’ve got some choices to make. So how do we keep things simple?

When it comes to budgeting, this takes the form of “paying yourself first.” You save and invest to meet your goals, and then spend the rest as you see fit. No need to track every nickel; you will get where you want to go so long as you’re getting yourself paid.

But it doesn’t hurt to also review your outlays in greater detail once in a while. Fixed expenses are those that cannot be changed in the short run: if you don’t pay the electric bill, the company will shut off your power. You have to pay the bills. Total up these kinds of items. You’ll need to know what sort of fixed expenses you can expect each month in order to figure out how much is discretionary—what’s left over for the things you want?

This exercise can be useful because it may point you to those expenses that are regular but are not fixed. For some, it might be a gym membership that doesn’t get used. It might be a streaming subscription for shows you don’t watch anymore. These services are just a few examples: there are plenty of things in life that we try out or that once made sense but no longer serve us.

And when we root these things out, it’s like giving yourself a raise!

We each have long-standing habits or hobbies whose costs we may not have considered for quite some time. Taking a fresh look at our spending gives us a chance to make intentional choices about how we live, going forward:

  • What are you not doing that you wish you were doing?
  • What do you wish you had that you do not have? A few more adventures, a new skill or pastime, something for the house or the yard?
  • Where might your money save you some time?

And the big question: what would you have to change in order to afford that new choice?

This isn’t necessarily “just” a budgeting question, because rather than shift your spending around, you might elect to invest more each month. All else being equal, investing more means you reach financial independence sooner. Access to options: that’s what we’re buying when we pay ourselves first.

We don’t mean to make any of this prescriptive. After all, you are the one who must live your life—not us! We just suggest that taking a step back to look at where our money goes, being intentional about how we spend, these are things that come naturally when we try to live life on purpose.

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


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Getting Back to Basics

The pandemic forced many companies to shake things up. But perhaps because of these challenges, some of the most basic, “boring” companies on our radar have been making some of the most interesting changes!


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Which Came First? The Bargain or the Growth Stock?

graphic shows an image of a hen and an image of a basket of eggs both taped to a chalkboard

It’s a classic thought experiment. “Which came first: the chicken or the egg?”

Clearly, the egg came first; that’s where chickens come from! But, wait. Who laid the egg?…

There’s a similar conundrum found in our work. In business and investing, we like to look for strong companies—ones that spend wisely, save well, and try to build an enterprise that can remain durable across changes in the economy. Often, these companies must have a strong balance sheet (i.e., more cash than debt) in order to grow to the size of an industry leader.

Clients, in the early stages of the pandemic, we invested in some companies leading their industries. Our original investing thesis was that even if the virus took its toll and a worst-case scenario occurred, people would still need the staples.

People would still need groceries.

People would still buy meat.

People would still order prescriptions.

While we were sure these everyday items would be impacted by pandemic life, we also believed they would likely survive—in one form or another.

Now many of these market leaders have been able to use the resources of a market leader to continue to evolve and transform organically. They may seem like “boring” companies on the surface, but in times of challenge, they are acting like growth stocks: many have been the first-movers among their peers, making plans that could shift their whole industries.

And believe it or not, we bought some of these companies as bargains. So which came first?

It’s fun being us. Clients, we are always looking for opportunities. Are you seeing anything that we should be watching? Let us know. And when you want to know more about what this all means for your portfolio, call or write.


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Which Came First? The Bargain or the Growth Stock? 228Main.com Presents: The Best of Leibman Financial Services

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Slow and Steady

photo shows blue, partly cloudy sky and brown stalks of rice plants

I’ve got something to say—about rice.

I know. I’m not a foodie. This is not a food blog. But hear me out. A retired client and amateur nutritionist opened my eyes about rice.

I’ve always had issues with white rice: I generally want to eat the whole pot. It’s handy, it cooks up so quickly, but to get full from it, I keep eating and eating.

“That’s not what you need,” the client told me. “They take the good stuff out so it will cook faster.”

Brown rice isn’t “minute rice”: it’s 45-minute rice. But the slow route preserves the stuff we really need. We don’t throw out the good stuff for immediate gratification. And if you want to think about the big picture, remember that this grain has been a food staple across the world for thousands of years. No wonder. It packs a punch, if only we handle it responsibly.

We are not nutritionists (although when you and I visit, you may still hear me talking about brown rice!). But this lesson is still paying off in other ways. Did anything sound familiar as I relayed all this?

In their rush to get in on the action, some new investors head for day-trading. It scratches an itch, but it’s focused on the smallest time frame. Investing for the long haul? That’s where the good stuff is, we believe. (No guarantees.)

There are benefits in the waiting. Preservation, patience—sometimes we need a dash of each.

Clients, email or call to talk about this or anything else.


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

All investing involves risk including loss of principal. No strategy assures success or protects against loss.


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The Plan that Grows with You

photo shows a desert highway with

Maybe the idea of “the finish line” is overrated. You know about my long-time goal of working until I’m age 92, so this sentiment shouldn’t be a shocker.

But we’re thinking about other ways this idea applies. A lot of investment wisdom suggests finding strategies that work with your current life stage. What milestones are coming up? What are you working toward right now? What can you prepare for? Even in this approach, though, life shouldn’t be treated like a checklist.

It’s definitely a journey—and you can’t plan for all the stops along the way. Our approach has to reflect that reality.

Psychologist Carol Dweck studies motivation and mindset. Her take? If things feel fixed or set in stone, look out: that attitude may be a signal that you’ve shut down in the face of change.

We’re not saying that flip-flopping or changing for its own sake is the way to be, but we can’t grow unless we’re willing to change.

“Opening yourself up to growth makes you more yourself, not less,” Dweck explains in her book Mindset. Dweck encourages us to continue to “learn and help learn,” and that’s an idea we can get behind.

You can be a whole person every day you live, but that doesn’t mean your living is ever finished. That’s how we feel about our work, too: a strong financial advisor isn’t a teacher or guide necessarily. An advisor can be a partner on that path. We can map an approach that is complete, robust, and comprehensive—but you better believe that the plan should be able to grow right along with you.

Clients, write or call when you’d like to talk about this, or anything else.


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