How personal finance is like using the toilet

Last week I was on a 13.5 hour flight from Vancouver to Hong Kong.

I have done this trip a number of times, and the 13.5 hour flight always felt really long.

Mostly because I usually couldn’t fall asleep on the plane for a very long time. I usually could only sleep for 1 hour, maybe 2 hours max.

As luck had it, my 13.5 hour flight from Vancouver to Hong Kong got extended. We had to do an emergency stop in Tokyo at Narita Airport.

The reason for the emergency stop?

A malfunctioned septic tank.

Yup, you read it right, a malfunctioned septic tank.

You are probably wondering… WTF, a malfunctioned septic tank forcing an emergency landing? Yes it was THAT serious!

Shortly after we took off, sensors in one of the septic tanks went haywire. This caused some toilets to not be able to flush. As a result, flight attends shut down 5 of the lavatories on the plane.

There were still 2 septic tanks working. However, with a full Boeing 777, bodily wastes from 450 people were filling up the 2 left-over septic tanks.

With 4 hours or so to go, the pilot decided that it was absolutely necessary to stop the plane to get this sh$t taken care of. Although this meant extending the flight time by at least 2 hours,  I thought the pilot made the right decision. Could you imagine telling 450 people that they couldn’t relief themselves for 4 hours while cruising at 36,000 feet above the ground? That would most likely trigger a riot on the plane!

So we had to stop in Narita to get the broken sensors fixed, and I would assume to empty some of the human wastes from all the septic tanks at the same time.

While we were sitting at Narita airport tarmac, a light bulb came on in my head. You see, somewhere between jet lag, sleep deprecation, and needing to pee really really badly, I somehow made a brilliant connection between using the toilet and personal finance.

Ready for my brilliant idea (I thought it was brilliant at the time!).

Using the toilet is just like personal finance. We all need to do it at some point. There is no avoidance. You can’t go through life without not using the toilet. Similarly, you can’t go through life without doing your finance.

So… we either can make bathroom time/personal finance extremely messy (yucks!). Or we can make bathroom time/personal finance extremely pleasant (woohoo!)

I don’t know about you, I would rather make my time in the bathroom as pleasant as possible every single time. So I don’t dread going to the bathroom when I need to relief myself. What does this involve? This involves making sure the toilet, the sink, and the entire bathroom is clean, there’s water available to flush the toilet and wash your hands at the sink, and making sure there’s sufficient amount of toilet paper.

Similarly, you probably want to make dealing with your finance as pleasant as possible every single time.

This involves knowing all the financial accounts you have, such as chequing, saving, and investment accounts. This also means knowing if you owe any money and if so, how much money and who you need to pay back (bank, credit card company, your dog?).

Next step is knowing how much income you make and how much money you spend each month. You don’t need to know the precise amount. The important part is to ensure that you are spending less than you make.

Finally, you need to know your net worth. Is it increasing? Or it is decreasing? The goal is to set aside money regularly to help grow your net worth over time.

Personal finance can be that simple! This isn’t rocket science!

What do you think about my association between using the toilet and personal finance? Brilliant? Or just down right awful?


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16 thoughts on “How personal finance is like using the toilet”

  1. I have to admit I came close to spitting the tasty hot chocolate I was sipping when I read this. There’s gotta be a great image or little comic strip out of this. I’ve always thought you can compare personal finance to anything, but you have me beat. This is THE best analogy I’ve seen!

  2. Well, after reading this post, my first thought was that you had too much time on your hands. But, then again, you did, with 13.5 hours on a long flight. I liked the association Tawcan. It was messy but it worked, and sadly, you’re right!!!

  3. That’s tough if you can’t sleep or only get an hour’s sleep on a 13.5 hour flight. I’m fortunate in that I can sleep on long haul flights so will often get around 5-6 hours shut-eye.

    Great analogy anyway, Tawcan. I too did a ‘toilet’ post this month, only relating to something else.

  4. You are really fortunate to be on the west coast. 13 hours to get to Asia is not that long considering we are in north america. Here, the east coast, we need to add another 7 hours to make it 20 hours to get to hongkong! More than 20 hours elsewhere in asia.

    • Yes going from East Coast to Asia would taken much longer. But on the other hand, it’d take us longer to get to Europe compare to East Coast. You win some, you lose some.

  5. Heya Tawcan, thanks for the post. I truly enjoyed reading it! 🙂 I think you are absolutely correct. Doing your finance is definitely very important. The only problem with it is that if you forget to go to the bathroom, thinks get messy on a short term basis, where failing to do your personal finance typically typically only gets messy in the long term. This causes a lot of people to underestimate the importance of doing their personal finance.
    – SD


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