caitie leibman

Depth Is a Choice

photo shows the top of a silver ladder coming out of a blue swimming pool

Some people find money talk awkward, to say the least. To others, it can seem tacky or even rude.

We’re in the business of money talk, though, and we know that there’s no planning for the future without it. What’s more—it can be a real pleasure! What could be more empowering than connecting numbers on paper to one’s real life? Getting a story in motion for a fellow human through a financial planning journey?!

Yep, I’ve been told I’m a little excitable.

But I do wonder how much of folks’ baggage about money talk comes from an unexamined relationship with money (or maybe years of being told what’s “proper” and what’s not?).

Clients, we’re not going to make you check any baggage at our door, but we want you to hear this: we recognize that our work gets really personal, really quickly. We know that our financial pasts and our future goals are intimate stories.

Can you imagine having a planning conversation that wasn’t personal, though? “I currently have a number of resources in several forms, and at a date in the future, I would like to be able to spend a certain amount of money for, um, reasons.”

In her book The Art of Gathering, Priya Parker talks about a facilitator she interviewed who compared coming together to entering a swimming pool. “There is a deep end and a shallow end,” the facilitator told her. “You can choose whatever end you want.”

To borrow this idea, we would suggest that financial planning is “an invitation to intimacy, but depth is a complete choice.”

We believe goals are intimate and individual by nature. We’ve talked before about how your neighbor’s retirement plan won’t be yours, your friend’s recent housing decision isn’t a blueprint for yours… You catch our drift?

All this is to say—we are here for the personal, the more pragmatic, and everything in between. We know the business we’re in, and it’s all about… you.

Clients, write or call when it’s time to update the specifics of your plans and planning.


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What’s the Magic Word?

graphic shows a bright blue exclamation point with arrows pointing at it on a brick wall

An acquaintance of ours is a real charmer with her friends’ children. At her house, when adults ask children for “the magic word,” they don’t answer, “Please!” 

Instead, she teaches them to answer, “Now!” And everyone dissolves into laughter. 

“Now!” from a spunky child doesn’t carry as much weight as, say, an angry manager barking orders to an employee or a firefighter at an emergency yelling instructions. 

But “Now!” gets thrown around fairly often. Our mail, our pop-up ads, and even our dentists insist they need our attention immediately. We simply must respond to this limited offer, this overdue action, this short supply. 

Manufacturing urgency where there is none is a tactic. It compels us to turn our attention to whoever shouts “Now!” the loudest. And it can be startling. 

Fear as a mode of motivation may “work” in the short term—it can really get people moving, right away—but a person can’t sustain the fear state. Fear triggers the part of our brain that wants to react quickly and prioritize survival. Maybe you’ve heard about those reactions: fight, flight, or freeze. 

But fear is not a long-term mode of persuasion. Shaping others’ behavior has to happen with their consent and participation, over time. Habit changes, for instance, can’t be ruled by fear alone: there must be something providing positive reinforcement. 

Hope, ease, intrinsic motivation—something of personal meaning must be present in any financial goal or financial habit. Otherwise, why would you do it? 

Clients, people will shout “Now!” for all sorts of market reasons. We know to be wary. The shouting can be a sign of a stampede, sell-off, or unwarranted turmoil. 

But don’t take our advice without investigating for yourself—even if we say, “Please!” 

Questions for us? You won’t get scare tactics from us. Call the shop or write. 


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Time Machines and Time Capsules

Both could serve their purpose, but which sounds more useful, more versatile: a time capsule or a time machine? Well, the two might have something to teach us about our investment vehicles. More on the blog.


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Solid Ground and Serious Conflict

You’ve heard us talk before about not getting caught up in panic. It goes to one of our core principles, the idea of avoiding stampedes.

It gets a little complicated when we’re talking about world events that are so immediate. Conflict can be deadly and do serious damage, and the effects reach us all—whether we realize it or not.

We’re in a moment where the business headlines and market volatility are more stark than usual. It can feel disturbing, like things are less certain than ever.

But those of us just beyond the emergencies have an opportunity to reflect. What an important time it is to make sure that our goals, our values, and our resources are aligned. Are we focusing our efforts within our sphere of control? Are we investing in those causes we believe will be of service in this world?

Perhaps it’s how we keep panic from our hearts: find stability in being the most you that you can be. The dust will never settle if we insist on all the pacing, jumping up and down, or spinning in circles.

Invest wisely, spend well. It goes for our money and our attention. The leap to panic is a shorter—but way more costly—trip.

When you need to talk through anything troubling, please reach out.


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

When the Dust Settles

Disturbing news can make us feel overwhelmed. When it seems like a fine time to panic, we’ve got an opportunity. How to take a moment—and make room for only what matters most.


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When Your Household Membership Changes

photo shows a family of 5 in silhouette watching a red and yellow sunset near a bench and a tree

Momentum carries us through many of life’s relationships. Practicing traditions and routines takes all sorts of decisions off our plate. It’s a type of comfortable efficiency. Then, sometimes, a big change occurs—and things shift. We can find ourselves suddenly reconsidering decisions that we used to be able to take for granted.

I’ve seen it unfold in your lives, clients, and certainly in my own. When my wife passed, I discovered that there were aspects of my lifestyle that suited “Mark in a couple” but did not fit in my new life as “Mark on his own.”

Upon the passing of or separation from a partner, some people realize all of a sudden that what used to be a two-kayak household is now a zero-kayak household. And they’re content with that.

It can happen when the home suddenly expands, too: it’s not just the birth of children that can change a household’s makeup. Perhaps that mother-in-law suite becomes literal, or maybe an adult sibling or adult child moves in to help manage things.

No matter how the membership of a household is changing, the new dynamic will most likely bring changes to the financial texture of life for everyone involved.

  • Are there are any lifestyle expenses that now make you feel, “I could take it or leave it”?
  • Do you anticipate changing your employment situation in a way that wasn’t possible before?
  • How might your tax strategies or insurance options change in this new arrangement?

Although many recommend waiting a year (or some other interval) after a loss or change before making big decisions, there are ways to explore in the meantime. Some people find it helpful to do their own research and talk with trusted friends as they explore options. Some prefer to work on their own personal development for a spell before reviewing their choices.

When your household membership changes, there is no right or wrong way to navigate these issues. Clients, if you’d like to talk through what this may mean for you, we’re game. Please write or call.


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When Your Household Membership Changes 228Main.com Presents: The Best of Leibman Financial Services

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

SMART Goals in a Dumb Pond?

photo shows a ripple growing in a blue pond with green trees in the background

Use SMART goals.

Be smart about it.

Work smarter, not harder.

You’ve probably heard this advice at a juncture in life; maybe you’ve even said it to someone else. Goals don’t get us very far unless they are explicit, meaningful, and can be tracked. Without them, aren’t they just dreams? “Hope is not a plan,” I’ve heard it said.

None of this is meant to be cynical, but I’m thinking about an important distinction: having “smart” goals won’t matter if they’re pointed in a “dumb” direction. So let’s get out of that framework. Smart and dumb are relative anyway (not to mention judgmental!).

The fit of a goal matters. For those of us youngest children who ever wore hand-me-downs, you know that even the stuff in the best shape isn’t quite right if it wasn’t picked for you. Alignment of a goal matters too: the thing better fit into the big picture. Does achieving a big purchase now help me live the life I want, without side-tracking my long-term goals? Just an example.

And your goals stay yours. Then it’s part of our job to make sure our strategies stay aimed at those goals.

We, too, strive for good fit. We don’t splash around in “opportunities” that don’t align with our principles. We seek bargains, we focus on owning the orchard for the fruit crop, we avoid stampedes. If it’s not in alignment, it could be a distraction or a tangent.

Jane Fonda once put it nicely: “If I want to make ripples, I better be sure I’m throwing my pebbles into the right pond.”

“Right” is relative to your life, your vision. We’re just happy to be part of the effort. Time to check in on your goals and their direction? Call or email, anytime.


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Next Needs and Wishes that Wait

We can do it all… but not all at once. How you might prioritize all the most important financial goals on the path ahead. What are the next needs versus the wishes that can wait?


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On Roots and Wings

photo shows a bird sitting on a flowering branch

Usually when we’re talking about love at 228 Main, I’m expounding about my passion for this work: I love my work, I love talking with you, we love what we’ve got going here.

It’s another week filled with sentiments and gestures surrounding love. Whether you like or loathe the Hallmark stuff, I’m thinking a little differently about this theme.

Our financial lives are full of choices. This or that, this plan or that one. We set savings goals, retirement plans, and contingencies. You can have some of everything, but each move comes with a tradeoff. Not every area can get all of our attention. It wouldn’t be possible.

It’s not so with the principle of “love.” It’s another resource—one that compounds.

Perhaps love is about being able to look at ourselves and others, note the human complexities and contradictions, and embrace it all for what it is. That’s where freedom is, where joy is possible.

But we can’t get too precious about it, either. We’re not forever stuck on past loves; we’re not forever reaching for future loves. We hold all of it, together, as parts of ourselves. They are strengths that move with us as we navigate the present. They are gifts, tools.

American newspaper editor Hodding Carter once wrote, “A wise woman once said to me that there are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these she said is roots, the other, wings.”

There’s no need to hold too tightly to either our roots or our wings—just the wisdom to embrace it all as it is.

Where are you headed? Where have you been? Clients, what a joy to be on the journey with you. I do so love this work. Call or write when it’s time to connect.


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