mark leibman

Three Rocks

photo shows river rocks on the ground

I have a yard now that was sadly neglected for years. My ambitions for it are modest. I still cut the grass with a checkbook, but I myself am working in fits and starts to reshape it into something better.

With many trades facing supply disruptions, price spikes, and labor shortages, it seems prudent to defer some projects until things loosen up. So… I have not called in the landscaping company yet.

In the meantime, there is a space that would benefit from a layer of rock. On my daily walk, I am picking one up and bringing it home. Three days into this plan, there are three rocks. They weigh about a pound all together.

The internet suggests I might need a ton of rock for this area—2,000 pounds. If I maintain the current rate of rock accumulation for, say, 300 days per year, it would take me 20 years to get a ton of rock. Twenty years to cover what I need.

I’m struck by three things: how insignificant three rocks seem against the total need, how simple arithmetic shows it could be accomplished over time, and how similar this all is to the challenge of saving money for retirement.

The first month’s deposit in a long-term investing plan might be a tiny fraction of 1% of the eventual sum accumulated over 20 or 30 years. It might feel like three rocks compared to a whole ton!

But simple arithmetic provides some hope.

Clients, if you would like to talk about your own accumulation plans—or start one with a younger relative in mind—please email us or call.


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Reviewing the Essentials: What’s in the Kit?

photo shows a hikers legs and feet moving over rocky mountain terrain

I’m in my line of work to talk all day. I love spending time getting to know you, getting down to the essence of your financial situation. With new clients, it’s a bit like jumping on the train with you and asking, “So where are we headed?”

Clients, you know it takes some trust and some time to get down to the essence of your situation. And the exciting thing is that the essentials can change on us.

“Wait, wait, wait,” you might be wondering, “Aren’t the essentials essential for a reason?” Yes. The fundamentals are always in style… but the circumstances can (and do!) change. And so we revisit our systems, our assumptions, and our resources.

Any seasoned traveler will recognize the ways “the essentials” can shift over time. Taking inventory of first-aid kit, for instance, you notice that some supplies can expire, wear out, or become obsolete as your life and your activities change.

So it goes with the companies we screen, too. As we search for potential investment opportunities, some of our favorite qualities help us identify what resonates with us. But a bargain doesn’t keep its bargain status forever: that label is useful to us, but we actively monitor our holdings as things change.

It’s a dynamic line of work we’re in. There is no “set it and forget it,” really. We’re all about the fundamentals, those values that guide us, but keeping our practice geared on the essentials—and only the essentials—is quite an active process.

And a lot of fun for us, to boot.

Clients, what are we missing? Is it time to take a closer look at something together? Write or call, anytime.


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Reviewing the Essentials: What’s in the Kit? 228Main.com Presents: The Best of Leibman Financial Services

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

Time Well Spent: How to Create Time Dividends

photo shows a wooden sign on a table that says "Relax"

At 228 Main, we like to think about the many ways one might be rich. The primary task here is to work to grow your buckets, especially those long-term buckets that may serve you across many years.

Many of our clients, however, are also rich in another precious resource: time.

Just as a company may pay dividends to shareholders, the best investors seem to have a knack for finding those investments of time that pay dividends. And paying attention to our time could mean big things for our financial goals and wellbeing, after all.

Take a closer look at a day or a week in your life and how the hours go by. Is there a set place or routine for those things that may seem to eat up “too much time,” like bills or errands or banking or emails?

Activities like these can really frazzle a person, but when we zoom out, a lot them of them shouldn’t come as a surprise. These are everyday, regular activities.

Laura Vanderkam’s book Off the Clock explores our many approaches to the time we have—the skillful and less skillful ways we spend it! She’s got a system for reviewing our time:

“When you do an activity, ask yourself two questions: Will I ever do this again? If so, is there some system I could develop or something I could do now that would make future instances faster or easier?”

The good news is that there are plenty of ways that small interventions—just one little step, now!—can pay time dividends for weeks, months, or years into the future.

Some of our favorites include automatic deductions: monthly payments to take care of any outstanding debt, investment contributions, and retirement contributions. (“Set it and forget it” is a phrase you might hear for this strategy, although we prefer a more mindful approach!)

We are also big fans of quarterly reviews. It’s roughly how often we adjust portfolios, but the passing of the seasons is a wonderful excuse to think about the state of our goals and the bigger vision.

What else can you attach to the schedule? Could you leave yourself notes for things you’d like to review on your birthday, at the new year, before or after tax season, the start or end of an academic year?

A company may divvy up its profits to splash them around to shareholders on a regular basis, but as individuals we too might find those ways to get our time to pay us back later. It just takes a little forethought now.

Clients, want to talk about this or anything else? Call or write, anytime.


Investing includes risks, including fluctuating prices and loss of principal.

Dividend payments are not guaranteed and may be reduced or eliminated at any time by the company.


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Time Well Spent: How To Create Time Dividends 228Main.com Presents: The Best of Leibman Financial Services

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

Got To Do It? Get To Do It!

photo shows a bunch of balloons against a blue sky

Sometimes the business of life feels just like that: business. The business of staying healthy requires an occasional trip to the dentist or a plateful of greens when you’d rather eat something else.

But we’ve noticed a curious thing lately among some financial planner types. One related that a client said their meetings were like going to the dentist. Another compared the task of financial planning to eating your vegetables. Both talked about the planning process as something that is unpleasant, necessary, but good for your long-term welfare.

Our business with you does not feel like that.

Clients, we wouldn’t pretend to speak for you, but we often find both relief and joy in finding order in life’s chaos. It’s a pleasure to come to understand the meaning of your wealth. It seems we all get a little giddy when we check in and confirm you are on track for your long-term goals or can get your investments better aligned with your values.

What a treat!

As time goes by, the product of investment gains is sometimes wealth beyond expectations. (No guarantees, of course.) Reviewing a long history of beginning balances growing over time feels more puppy dogs and rainbows than dental appointments and bitter veggies.

Psychologists say attitudes are contagious. Some people have told me that I myself have a positive outlook. But that probably would not fully explain the difference in the tone and tenor of our meetings, compared to those dental appointment types. Maybe it comes down to these things:

  • We look for a good philosophical fit before we even begin a working relationship.
  • We believe that those not born with good investing instincts can learn.
  • We trust people to be the experts of their objectives and what they want to accomplish.
  • We strive to meet people where they are, to talk about our areas of expertise in only those ways that everyone participating has a grasp of what is going on—and what we are doing about it.
  • We keep our focus on the long term, to increase the chances that people get to their most cherished goals.

People working together, in mutual respect—that’s what we strive to be about. And what a joy it can be.

When you’re ready to collaborate on your plans and planning, email us or call.


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

Living on Purpose

photo shows a highway stretching out into a blue sky

Some say the young believe themselves immortal. When our whole lives seem to be ahead of us, it feels like there is plenty of time to do whatever we intend to do.

But we know the mortality rate is 100% in the long run. More than 3 million people died last year in the United States, about 1 person in 100.

And in our experience, many people coming to grips with their own mortality come to believe that life is short—no matter their age.

If it’s true, then how do you fill in the blank? “Life is short, I better ___________.”

In the prior chapter of my life, we filled in the blank with “we better have a little fun every day.” That’s still appropriate in this chapter, but I ponder what else fits in the blank these days.

Interestingly, some things are so basic to our natures they go without saying. A person who is consistently kind and empathetic to others might not think to fill in the blank with “be kind” because it is assumed. So thinking about how you might fill in the blank is another way to be intentional about how you live, to do things on purpose.

Maybe that’s what all this is about. By the end of the road, I’d like to know that I meant the things I did and did the things I meant to.

How about you?

Clients, life is short. How can we serve you—and help you connect your money with your one precious life? Call or email, anytime.


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Dimes for Sale: 8 for $1!

photo shows a stack of 8 dimes

You may never see an offer like this. No one would buy, right? It is too obviously a bad deal.

But people get tricked into doing essentially the same thing, all the time. Buying insurance you do not need is a lot like buying dimes, eight for a buck.

A recent retiree told us about being offered “Medicare Supplement Plans” where the one that had a potential $180 per year exposure to deductibles was $250 cheaper than the one that featured full coverage. The agent said most people prefer the “better” policy, desiring full coverage. But when you think about it, why pay $250 to save $180?

Another told us of a proposal to buy long-term care insurance, which sometimes makes sense. But this person supported a lifestyle that already cost more than long-term care, a lifestyle whose expenses would disappear if the need for home care or assisted living or long-term residential care emerged. A more expensive lifestyle would disappear if the cheaper long-term care lifestyle came into play. No coverage needed!

These thoughts came to mind as I cancelled a disability policy into which I had faithfully paid each month for forty years, one that would have provided needed benefits when I had large family obligations and little in the way of other resources.

Insurance is a marvelous invention. We believe in buying all of it that you need—and none that you don’t.

Otherwise, you’re buying dimes, eight for a buck.

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


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To Cheap or Not To Cheap: It’s Not Really a Question!

photo shows a dictionary page with the definition of "quality"

Remember Rich Uncle Pennybags? He’s the mascot from Monopoly. Top hat, monocle, sacks of cash. As kids, he might have been the cartoonish dream for some of us, the ultimate image of what “rich” looks like.

Obviously the reality is different, and our dreams mature as we do. Clients, in our conversations with you, it doesn’t seem like his life or image is the one you’re pining for.

But there is one surprising realization about the life of the “rich”: it is usually much, much less expensive to be rich than to be poor.

Why? Having money enables us to live more efficiently and avoid many painful financial pitfalls.

To begin with, credit may sound like a bargain—after all, you’re getting more money now than you otherwise could spend! But there really isn’t any such thing as “cheap credit.” If you are able to lay down cash for major purchases, you don’t just save on fees and interest: you may even be able to negotiate a better price.

If you are funding large items on a credit card, you are likely to wind up paying many times what they are worth. If you find yourself in a spot where you need to turn to high-risk credit in the form of payday loans, things get even worse.

There are other ways that having money allows you to stretch your resources out, too. Buying quality merchandise may take more money up front, but the alternative is buying shoddy products: if you find cheap furniture that falls apart every year or two, you’re still paying to replace pieces more often. You may save money in the long run by paying more up front. (Of course, care must still be taken to select your purchases carefully: higher cost does not always correlate to higher quality!)

Also, when you have a life of plenty you have the luxury of being able to shop around and wait for a better price. The rich get to be rich in time, too. Be a little choosy, not cheap.

These habits are ones that all of us can use to help us build and maintain our own wealth.

The wonderful conundrum that some have discovered is this: the less you spend, the more wealth you accrue; the more wealth you have, the less you need to spend.

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


The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.


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To Cheap or Not To Cheap: It's Not Really a Question! 228Main.com Presents: The Best of Leibman Financial Services

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