Beginnings and Endings

As the end of the year draws near, it makes sense to look back on where we have been—and to look forward at the path ahead.  

Our lives have threads; the life of our shared enterprise here at 228 Main does, too. One thread is talking with you, meeting you where you are, striving to connect your money to your life. Other threads pertain to finding worthy opportunities in which to invest, managing your portfolios to take advantage of that research, and communicating with you about what we are doing and why. 

It’s been an interesting year! The markets have been challenging; the economy is dealing with the aftermath of the shutdown and the restart relating to the pandemic. Disruptions continue to affect many aspects of our lives. 

Turmoil brings opportunity, of course, and we are always thinking about opportunities. Our underlying theory is that we survive, the economy recovers, and we end up sooner or later with record levels of GDP, income, and wealth. No guarantees, of course. 

In other words, a lot happened in 2022, but the big story has not changed. We are looking forward with anticipation to 2023. 

Our story may not have changed, but our structure is evolving to better reflect our work together. We have talked about the collaborative enterprise we’re becoming, and our regulatory structure will soon reflect that. I can’t work to age 92 by myself—and I would not want to! So the New Year will include a transition to a more sustainable form of organization. (More details will follow, and you can refer to our previous discussion on this process.) 

My sense is that we’re more capable than ever of taking care of business for you—with more time spent by more people searching for opportunities, managing portfolios, attending to the details of service, and communicating with you in more ways than ever. The new structure will be a better way to organize this reality. 

Clients, what are your plans and planning for the New Year? Any parts you’d like to talk about with us? Email or call, any time. 


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Humbug-Free Financial Planning

 

Say, are you catching any holiday specials this season? There are even more movies this year spinning their own version of the Dickens classic A Christmas Carol. Hard to believe the story is more than 170 years old, but many of its lessons have stood the test of time. 

Life is often about learning and changing, isn’t it? Our work with you has some similarities to this classic tale. (But in our version, I suppose, no one is the Scrooge. We’re all already trying to grow and do our best!) 

Our first meeting, we meet your Ghost of Financial Planning Past. The past is formative—and informative. What brought you into our shop? How did you get here? What are the relevant parts of your past that have shaped you? 

We get a collaborative sense of what your story has been, up to this point. The Ghost of Financial Planning Past is someone you’ll have to introduce us to. It’s just where our story starts! 

As our work with you goes along, we stay in touch with the Ghost of Financial Planning Present. This is the spirit of action, the one who is most aware of the pertinent things going on in your life right now. They help us write the story anew, each and every day. 

The Ghost of Planning Present is the one managing those big life shifts: job change, big move, or early retirement on your mind? The spirit is there, helping draw your attention to what matters most to you. 

We are a key character in this part of the story, too. If you are living on your capital, for instance, we help arrange the ongoing details of how you finance the present. Or when your situation changes and adjustments need to be made in your plans and planning, then you can get us involved. 

Finally, we all must be ready to face the Ghost of Financial Planning Future. This specter is always a little blurry at the edges: nobody can know them that well, after all. But this is the spirit that helps us imagine what awaits us. We must live with the consequences of our choices, so how might our hopes, dreams, and goals shake out? 

The future is where your plans meet reality. When we are able to sketch out our aims, we have a better chance to befriend the Ghost of Planning Future. We can’t fully script this part of the story, but where there’s some arithmetic to do or strategy to implement, we’ll be there to help shape the story. 

It seems we are never done visiting with any of the spirits. The longer we know you and grow together, the past expands behind us. The present is always unfolding, day by day. The future is ever-changing too, as tomorrow becomes today. The future keeps skipping ahead just out of reach, the past grows, and all while we live in the present. 

The present is where we turn the future into the past. And we love striving to help you make the most of it! 

Clients, if you would like to talk about any of the parts of your life, please haunt us at your convenience. It’s our pleasure to be part of the story.


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Conspicuous Consumption or Subtle Savoring?

photo shows letter blocks spelling "ENJOY"

Some people have so much money, it doesn’t really matter what they do with it. Some people don’t have any to spare. Our work tends to be with those in between, those who need their money to work effectively to cover their needs—and maybe some wants and some legacy concerns.

Clients, that space in between is where most of us live.

As people achieve more financial freedom, some feel compelled to display more and more of their wealth. It may come from pride or social ambition or… who knows exactly? But the cost of trying to impress others is quite high when it manifests in expensive homes, vehicles, and conspicuous consumption.

Housing is a need of course, and transportation can be nonnegotiable for our livelihood, or childcare, or wellbeing. But it’s a great time of year to think about how all the choices add up when we start stretching our means just for show.

We once saw an article about $10,000 watches that had the headline, “Affordable Watches that Will Make You Feel Like a Millionaire.” When people whose invested wealth has reached the $1 million mark, we delight in asking them whether they identify as a millionaire now. Not one has answered “yes.” So if a million dollars doesn’t make a person feel like a millionaire, how would a watch get the job done? (For the record, a large fraction of the millionaires I know enjoy wearing watches in the $39 price neighborhood.)

The paradox is that those who strive to look rich may never accumulate much in the way of assets. Meanwhile, those who choose to be rich may have a better chance of learning to spend well. They can afford vehicles that provide the most comfort, homes that make daily life better, generosity to descendants or causes, and travel to dream destinations.

We do not control what others think. We only control our own choices, and we bear the brunt of the consequences. Those everyday millionaires—and those on their way—seem to have learned this early. And they savor what they have, no matter how life looks to anyone else.

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


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Conspicuous Consumption or Subtle Savoring? 228Main.com Presents: The Best of Leibman Financial Services

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Here Be Dragons!

graphic shows a map of an island in a sea and a dragon in the water

It is hard to imagine embarking on a long trip these days without the use of technology. Hours spent studying an atlas have been replaced by seconds of typing in your destination. An additional quick search alerts you to nearby fueling stations, rest stops, lodging—all the known resources along the way! 

Long before GPS and atlases (and even truck stop chili dogs!), explorers had no choice but to set off toward destinations unknown. Cartographers would sketch the journey as they went, creating a compounding resource of information. 

If the destination proved fruitful, the voyagers would have a way to return with their bounty. If nothing of interest materialized, well, at least they knew to no longer waste their time in that direction. 

Looking over some of the earliest explorers’ maps, you’ll see intricate details of the paths traveled. You’ll also find, in some of the unmarked terrain, the words, “Here be dragons!” 

Two possibilities might explain the drama of such labels. There’s fear, and there’s greed. 

The fear: the harrowing journey brought such new and challenging experiences that they convinced themselves dragons are indeed real and are probably lurking in those unexplored pockets of the world. Thus, shouting ensues… “Here be dragons! Stay away!” 

The greed: there could still be interesting stuff out there, so it was worth trying to scare off those other explorers. 

Clients, we’re in the business of uncharted territory: the future isn’t mapped out for us. You can hear the shouts of other supposed explorers all day, every day. Dragons, treachery, treasure… It’s enough to throw anyone off course. 

But luckily for us, we have our guiding lights—our principles, our goals—to keep us on track. Dragons be darned! 

Clients, questions or concerns? Reach out anytime. It’s our pleasure to explore alongside you.


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