A handbreadth is a unit of measure about the width of your palm, or 4 inches.  It’s also a measure of time as referenced in the Bible –  You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you ~ Psalm 39:5. Meaning our time here on earth is short.

The Dash is an amazing poem written by Linda Ellis.[1]  She writes about how we live our lives between our birth and death dates which is represented by the dash.  Have you ever paid attention to tombstones? If you have, you’ve probably noticed that the dashes are all the same size – short.

My church recently held their annual men’s retreat and I asked my group if they could name their great-grandparents, most couldn’t.  So not only will we be gone but we’ll also be forgotten.

Knowing your time is limited, what can you do today to create a legacy?   Here are a few ideas:

  • A financial plan can help you define your legacy by aligning your investments to your goals.
  • Establishing a Donor Advised Fund (DAF) will allow you to contribute cash or assets to your account and then distribute your donations as you see fit. You’ll be able to deduct your contributions from your taxes.  The deposit is irrevocable, but you’ll be able to invest the assets inside the fund and you can control your distributions.
  • Create a private foundation to fund causes you support. You’ll need to establish a 501c3 organization which may be expensive and time consuming, but it may be worth the effort especially if you have the financial resources.   Some of the larger private foundations are the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Ford Foundation and The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
  • Donate directly to your favorite organization such as your alma mater, museum, library, zoo or hospital. Your contribution, depending on the size, may also get your name on a building.
  • Legacies go beyond monetary gifts, of course, so donating your time might be a better option for you and your family. A good friend of mine has volunteered his time to read the Bible to a group of tenth grade boys. He’s been meeting with them ever since they were in the sixth grade.  He’s creating a legacy by giving these young men a solid foundation.
  • Using your professional talents to help others may pay dividends. Young people who are starting their career can benefit from a strong mentor. A good place to start is to take an inventory of your strengths to find out where you can serve best.
  • Procrastination is the enemy of wealth creation so start saving your money today. An investor who invests $1,000 monthly will see their money grow to $1.2 million after 30 years.  If he waited ten years to start, his account value would be worth $520,000, a difference of $680,000![2]  The sooner you start investing the more money you’ll have to fund your philanthropic efforts.

A popular Chinese proverb says that the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago.  The second-best time is now.   If you’ve been waiting to start (fill in the blank) __________, I’d encourage you to do it today.  After all, were just a mere handbreadth.

“Goodbye Hobbes. Thanks…for everything…” ~ Calvin 

Bill Parrott is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management an independent, fee-only, fiduciary financial planning and investment management firm in Austin, TX.  For more information please visit www.parrottwealth.com.


Note:  Past performance is not a guarantee of future returns.  Your returns may differ than those posted in this blog and investments aren’t guaranteed.




[1] https://www.linda-ellis.com/the-dash-the-dash-poem-by-linda-ellis-.html

[2] $1,000 per month at 7%, before taxes and fees.

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