Planning Your “DASH”

Blank tombstone in cemetery

I’m currently reading a book called “Live Your Dash: Make Every Moment Matter” by Linda Ellis.  The book begins with her poem that hooked me right away. This poem below appears here with the author’s permission.            

The Dash 

by Linda Ellis 

I read of a man who stood to speak  

at the funeral of a friend. 

He referred to the dates on the tombstone  

from the beginning…to the end.   


He noted that first came the date of birth  

and spoke the following date with tears,   

but he said what mattered most of all  

was the dash between those years.   


For that dash represents all the time  

that they spent alive on earth.  

And now only those who loved them  

know what that little line is worth.   


For it matters not, how much we own –  

the cars…the house…the cash.  

What matters is how we live and love  

and how we spend our dash.   


So, think about this long and hard.  

Are there things you’d like to change?  

For you never know how much time is left  

that can still be rearranged.   


If we could just slow down enough  

to consider what’s true and real,  

and always try to understand  

the way other people feel.   


And be less quick to anger  

and show appreciation more,  

and love the people in our lives  

like we’ve never loved before.   


If we treat each other with respect  

and more often wear a smile,  

remembering that this special dash  

might only last a little while.   


So, when your eulogy is being read  

with your life’s actions to rehash,  

would you be proud of the things they say  

about how you spent your dash? 


When I started this book, I was expecting wild things that people would do in their “Dash”, but so far, it’s focused on what is important to people. I started thinking about how clients look at retirement and how they want to live their “Dash” or how they want to be remembered.  Maybe we should call financial planning your “Dash Planning”? 

Dash Planning and the Chapters in Your Book of Life

Now, I’m thinking about the Dash in terms of chapters in your book of life. Retirement can be a time of reflection, looking back on our earlier chapters, the choices we’ve made, memories we’ve created and lessons we’ve learned. We may have more freedom now than ever to create more chapters and fill in the gaps we missed in our earlier years because of work, family, or financial obligations.   

Self-Reflection could be the next chapter – working on yourself and knowing more about yourself. We all know who we’re supposed to be at work, with friends, as a parent, spouse, grandparent, uncle/aunt, and the community. But what really makes you happy or gives you peace of mind?  It may be a spiritual experience.  

What about a chapter creating more memories with your spouse? What are things you wanted to experience when you were younger that you missed because of work, family responsibilities, or possibly not being able to afford them? Maybe now is the time to add more to that chapter.    

A chapter dedicated to family, the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Family gatherings, holidays, and special events are the highlight of this chapter.  We have some families planning cruises and others spending a week in an Airbnb in Colorado.  

Whatever or wherever it is, simply spending one on one time with each child or grandchild can be living your “dash” and creating memories. Sometimes life gets away from us and our siblings are put on the back burner because of other priorities. We start realizing we’re not getting any younger and now is the time to give more attention to this chapter. We have a client in his 90s who regularly drives 30 minutes to have lunch with his brother who is in his late 80s.   

Maybe it’s time to reconnect with old friends and explore new activities or volunteer opportunities that could create new friendships. Sometimes people aren’t sure how they’re going to fill the chapters after retirement but end up with a full calendar from volunteering, church activities, new hobbies, and going out to lunch or dinner with friends.  

Financial planning is more about planning your “Dash” than boring numbers and graphs.  We know the numbers, projections, inflation, taxes, and wills are necessary, but putting all the numbers together to create a picture of your “dash” – that is what Gertsema Wealth Advisors is all about.  Everyone at GWA is focused on you and trying to make your “Dash” the best it can possibly be. 

Schedule a time so we can help you plan your “dash”!  

Call 816-259-5060. 

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