financial goals

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

Lining Up the Dominoes of Financial Planning

photo shows a line of snaking dominoes falling on a light blue surface

Clients, it’s normal to feel this way: suddenly a change is upon us, and we feel like there’s more to do than we bargained for. For some, it can feel like waking up to a never-ending list.

I’ve heard it from young folks, just starting out. Once they become aware of the state of their finances, it can be both empowering and overwhelming. It starts to seem impossible to accomplish everything that stretches out ahead of them: big purchases like houses or degrees, big goals like travel or retirement, and all the unexpected stuff in between? Daunting.

Other parts of life can prompt a sense of being overwhelmed, too, like the passing of a partner, a big move for a parent. It can feel like there’s no way to do it all.

Things are not as they seem, though. No one can do it all… at once. That’s the key: nobody can do it all at once.

We’ve talked about this idea before in terms of the many hats we wear in life. Perhaps a better way to think of financial goals, in particular, is dominoes: only one domino needs to fall at once, but the momentum means that each one affects the next. Starting the chain reaction takes the most energy. The rest of it builds on itself.

Think about the prelude to most people’s spending and investing goals: the emergency fund. Once you’ve got this resource in place, you move onto the next goal. But you’re not starting all over from scratch for the next goal. It’s the opposite, because now you have a firmer, better foundation to build on. You’re already on your way with more freedom than before!

Meaningful goals compound. They become a resource in themselves.

Clients, what’s next for you? Where does it fit in the big scheme? Reach out, anytime.


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Lining Up the Dominoes of Financial Planning 228Main.com Presents: The Best of Leibman Financial Services

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

A Loving Plan for Your Relationship with Money

photo shows a yellow sun rising above a silhouetted mountain and clouds in purple and pink below a blue sky

With another Valentine’s Day, folks are reflecting on their romantic entanglements or interests, but it’s making us think more deeply about all sorts of relationships.

What does a healthy relationship with money feel like?

We are not here to give personal advice, per se, but there seem to be some fundamental principles that could serve us well in any partnership.

1. Make way for reality.

The most important of life’s conversations require some vulnerability—and bravery. Whether we’re talking about romantic commitments, financial health, or other big relationships, everyone involved would do well to be on the same page from the get-go.

Start by getting everything relevant out on the table: face and work with the reality of your financial life. The important conversations deserve honesty, even when it’s “just” you and your money!

2. Check your expectations.

For any endeavor, idealizing a relationship can doom it in an instant. Instead, we’d recommend checking in with your expectations about money. Is baggage adding weight to a current financial issue? Does it feel like progress is coming way too slowly?

Sometimes the problem isn’t the issue itself: the problem is how we are framing the problem. Goals can be wonderful, but even as we’re playing the long game, embrace what author Lynne Twist calls “experiences of sufficiency.”

They are those moments when things feel whole and life is full of “enough.”

A meal that satisfies. Sunbeams falling across the countertop. Clothes on your back.

A plan that you allow to inspire some hope. Speaking of…

3. Use goals to light the path you’d like to take.

Not every day of a relationship will be great, but the point isn’t total control of the outcome. Security comes from having confidence that, generally, things are headed the right direction.

So what are the milestones along the way that will remind you of that? That will spark joy, serve others, or continue to connect you to what’s important?

In the end…

Love is all you need! Thanks to the Beatles for this one, but it works. In short, compassion is a great foundation for a healthier relationship with money.

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


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A Loving Plan for Your Relationship With Money 228Main.com Presents: The Best of Leibman Financial Services

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

Let’s Talk! (You Couldn’t Pay Me to Stop)

Converse, communicate, babble, blather, rant, rave… I love to TALK! Preaching to the choir, but it’s worth reminding everyone: I’m here to do this. By choice. More in this week’s aptly-titled video.


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It’s All About the Numbers and Feelings but Also Numbers and Don’t Forget Feelings

photo shows a journal page with "I want..." written on it

“We figure out what we want with our feelings. We learn everything we can learn from the numbers.” — Me 

Sometimes new clients are surprised when most of our work together is conversation. There’s very little button-clicking on a computer that will do us any good while we’re meeting. And there’s no chart or binder just sitting in my office—or anywhere!—that can tell us what we need to know: 

  • What does money mean in your life? 
  • What are your goals? 
  • What’s working? What could be better? 

There are choices to make that do involve some math, of course. That’s a big part of our role. But your job? Figuring out what you want and how you feel about how to get there. 

In their book No Hard Feelings, Liz Fosslien and Mollie West Duffy explain, “When people talk about decision making, they tend to assume that feeling something and doing something with those feelings are the same thing.” Some folks notice a feeling swell up in the process and try to shoo it away, thinking it will only gum things up. Surely, if we “open the floodgates, we’ll be bowled over by the crush of our emotions.” 

But that’s not giving ourselves much credit, is it? Gut feelings aren’t random signals. They can be clues to our self-knowledge. Ever bought a house, juggled job offers, or gone on a first date? 

Our feelings can help us figure out what we can live with and what we cannot. And as we’re fond of saying, “your money, your life.” No matter what happens in our conversations, clients, you’re still the one that has to live with your life—not us. 

We’re here as partners, collaborators, coconspirators… you get the idea. Reach out when you’re ready.


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It's All About the Numbers and Feelings but Also Numbers and Don't Forget Feelings 228Main.com Presents: The Best of Leibman Financial Services

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

The Journey [video]


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TRANSCRIPT:

[MARK] They say the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Really, the whole journey, every inch of it, happens one step at a time. Everything you can think of is made of tiny things, tiny actions, single steps. The secret to accomplishing anything is basically to put one foot in front of the other.

The training of an Olympic swimmer happens one stroke at a time. Our quaint quarters at 228 Main were built one brick at a time. Books get written one word at a time. The 25 year history of LFS happened one day at a time. A $1 million 401(k) account gets built one fraction of a paycheck at a time. Healthy eating habits are formed one bite at a time. Relationships blossom one conversation at a time. A portfolio gets put together one opportunity at a time.

Humble, common actions within the reach of anyone are what great stuff is made of. You do this simple thing. Then you do it again. Then you do it again.

The secret to accomplishing anything great is to put one foot in front of the other, while you are aimed in the general direction of something worthwhile.

Resolution, Two Ways

photo shows a camera in the background out of focus and a lens in the foreground in focus

Clients, among you there are amateur (and even some pro!) photogs. If you have worked with cameras or graphics, you are familiar with the term “resolution.” It refers to the clarity of an image, one of the classic definitions of the word.

Another has to do with a sense of purpose. In our financial plans and planning, we are thinking about the person we want to be and the life we want to lead in the future. We have to consider where to wake up every day, what to do, how to spend our days… These issues are integral to setting our goals. When we know what we want to do or who we want to be, we may resolve to get there.

Or, another way… We may become resolute.

Taken together, both these definitions of “resolution” become powerful characteristics in the planning process. We seek clarity for our vision of the future, to get a high-resolution image in mind. Then we resolve to shape our actions toward our goal; in other words, we make a resolution.

Of course, nothing as momentous as our life plans could be that simple. Never having been to the future, our vision of it will likely need adjusting along the way. And success is less a matter of grit and grim resolution than figuring out the systems that will get us where we want to go, in the most effective, least obnoxious manner.

Rather than clarity about a singular goal, we may work toward building options. Perhaps we cannot yet know whether we will prefer to retire in-place or as a snowbird—or to move to the mountains or the sea. We might end up preferring becoming a picture of leisure or maybe endeavoring in a pleasant encore career in an area of interest. The key to holding options is having the resources that can fund different paths.

No matter the picture you envision, with some clarity and resolve, we believe lots of possibilities might take shape before our eyes.

Clients, if you would like to gain greater resolution about your goals, or develop the resolution to make more options available, email us or call.


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