Doing the dishes by hand and the most important life lesson ever.

I’ve learned an incredible life lesson all thanks to my dirty dishes.

We don’t have a dishwasher. ( <—— This is important for the story.)

We clean each dish, fork, spoon, and knife by hand.

When you don’t have a dishwasher, the worst decision you can make is to let the dirty dishes pile up, even for one day.

You’ll regret it the rest of your life!

I once let the dishes go from Friday to Sunday night. I laid down on the cold kitchen floor and cried like a drug addict for an hour before sucking it up and taking care of business. Worst three hours of my life. Never again.

Do the dishes early and often.

When there are only ten pieces to wash, it goes fast and it’s easy.

When both sides of the sink and half the counter are full of dirty dishes, it sucks and it takes forever.

The more dirty dishes there are, the less motivated I am to do them. It’s the worst inverse relationship of them all.

“The relationship between two variables is an inverse relationship if when one increases the other decreases.”

Every time I walk into the kitchen, I do the dishes. I especially make sure I do them when there’s only like 4 or 5 pieces to wash. Waiting until there are more is a mistake!!

No machine will wash your money for you.

Let’s apply this amazing life lesson to money.

The more often you budget, pay bills, organize your debts, and track your net worth, the better.

When you start to let it go, the motivation starts to dwindle. When the money to-do list starts to grow, the incentive to just look the other way grows.

If you want those dishes cleaned, look no further than your two hands.

If you want your bank account in order, look no further than your two hands.

No one is coming along to do it for you.

And the sooner (and more often) you get to it, the better you will feel about it.

Perhaps there is a dishwasher of sorts for your money? Or at least a sponge you can use.

I’m looking forward to the day when we again have a dishwasher. It might be years! (If we decide to buy the house we are currently renting AND do a kitchen remodel! Kill me now!)

A dishwasher would make things easier. I could even let the dishes stack up for a day or two.

There’s nothing wrong with a little help in the kitchen and there’s nothing wrong with a little help in your budget either.

I use Tiller to do our budget. (It’s like a dishwasher! Sorta.)

Tiller automatically pulls your banking transactions everyday and throws them into a Google Sheet.

From there you can easily and quickly categorize each transaction and work your monthly budget.

I’ve created a spreadsheet that includes a debt snowball, savings worksheet and even a net worth tracker!

Here’s my suggestion… (This takes about 15 minutes.)

Don’t let the financial dishes pile up.

Get in there and get your hands wet!

Clean your bank account early and often.


P.S. I’ve heard this “early and often” lesson works for exercising and eating healthy too!

30 Responses to "Doing the dishes by hand and the most important life lesson ever."

  1. J. Money   December 15, 2016 at 12:58 pm

    Haha… love it man 🙂

    • Derek   December 17, 2016 at 5:01 pm

      Thanks bro! Thought you might like this one.

  2. Nicole   December 18, 2016 at 10:48 pm

    Your analogy between dishwashing and staying on top of money is an interesting one. No one likes a sink full of (or worse, overloading onto the counters, lol) dirty dishes so yep when you put it like that in financial terms, it’s easy to understand how it’s better to deal with money when we have it under control than letting things get out of hand to the point where it takes longer and is much less enjoyable to manage.

    Better to get a head start on it than let it sit and get a smelly, sticky and so unsightly that you just want to hire someone to manage it for you ….the dishes and the finances (or is that just me?).

    On a side note, growing up, we had a dishwasher but my mom refused to let me use it and she always cleaned our household dishes by hand. Once per day, at the end of the day, so that’s dishes from breakfast, dinner, snacking and lunch when we were home.

    As a kid who had dish duty as one of my chores, I viewed the practice of cleaning dishes manually as cruel and unusual punishment. This was aided by the fact that I had access to a machine that would make life so much easier, yet, using it was forbidden

    But alas…as I grew older and into adulthood, I realized that she was likely just trying to save money on the water bill. As a grownup now I tend to be careful washing only a few dishes here and there, for that very reason. Also, I learned waiting until the sink is full can also help conserve water, which is good for the environment. Win-win 🙂

    • Derek   December 19, 2016 at 12:51 pm

      Your comment made me realize that perhaps my dirty dishes / money comparison isn’t as far fetched as I thought it might be. Glad to hear that it made sense to you!!!

  3. Miss Mazuma   December 20, 2016 at 3:14 pm

    So smart you are!! I hadn’t thought of the correlation but it is so true!!

    I don’t have a dishwasher either (I don’t even have a microwave for that matter!)…but my BF does. There is nothing that makes me more crazy than not having the dishes done before bed (of course, there are exceptions). I like to put my kitchen to sleep each night the way my grandma and mom used to – clean. It puts an end to the day. My mom used to say “kitchen closed” each night after cleaning. 🙂 Now, if it isn’t cleaned It can make me a bit anxious. On a similar note, when I was married my husband decided to take over the filing of taxes. For those 3 years he filed an extension EVERY year. Now, there is nothing wrong with filing an extension. But for me, it felt like my taxes were in limbo. There was absolutely no reason for the extension besides he didn’t want to do them. He would just repeat that there is no penalty since they owed us money…but that was exactly the point that made me crazy – they owed us money and I wanted it!! Totally reminded me of the dishes in the sink overnight – unfinished business. Anywho, we are divorced now (not because the taxes ;)) and I am happy to be back on time with my filing…and dishes are done every night (for the most part). 🙂

    • Derek   December 21, 2016 at 9:58 am

      Okay, I’m really loving this.

      Up to now I was only thinking of my dishes as the bain of my existence. Doing the dishes is ONLY a torture and could never be an enjoyable part of making a happy home, right? Doing the dishes is just a pain, something to get out of the way.

      I just love the idea of putting the kitchen to sleep and saying “kitchen closed” like you kitchen is a fancy restaurant.

      And why not? Why not treat your own kitchen (and taking good care of it) as a super important part of running your life? Why, I ask.

      From now on I love doing the dishes.

      Now how did your mom feel about folding laundry? hehe

    • Jacq   February 3, 2017 at 10:56 pm

      My ex boyfriend owed or thought he would, had bought a house (complicating taxes) and money was tight so he didn’t want to pay HR block. Therefore he just didn’t file taxes for ~3 years in a row.
      There was also a dishwashing incident I won’t go into. No dishwasher at that place. His second place had one, and it could be sitting there empty and he’d still put dishes in the sink. Oh the analogy is so fitting!
      I really look back when I tell people things like this and wonder why I stayed as long as I did. I now have a list of standards I don’t consider unreasonable and having ones financial house in order is on that list.

  4. Steven Goodwin   December 21, 2016 at 8:22 am

    Love this! I can totally relate! If I don’t go through and categorize and check my transactions often, they build up and it becomes harder and harder to get in there and work on them. But, when I’m staying on top of them, it’s a breeze! Great post!

    • Derek   December 21, 2016 at 10:00 am

      Boom exactly.

      It’s like there is a threshold, and beyond that threshold it’s impossible to return to the task.

      It goes from the easiest task ever to impossible when you add just one more dirty dish(or transaction).

      Better not cross the threshold!!!

  5. Rajkumar   December 29, 2016 at 1:15 am

    Interesting article mate. it’s better to track each and every transaction no matter whether it is a credit or debit transaction. And yeah, there’s no machine in the goddam world which will wash money for you, you’ve just got to do it on your own. Everyone will reach a stage where you’ve got to do almost everything on your own, even your family members will not be able to help at certain times. Keep sharing such nice and well written articles brother!

    • Derek   December 30, 2016 at 2:48 pm

      Bingo. You are right on.

      Glad you enjoyed the post.

  6. Maimo   January 4, 2017 at 9:25 pm

    There’s one more analogy you can apply to the dishes. When you leave dirty dishes in the sink, they attract insects (ants, cockroaches) which then get into the cabinets and are increasingly hard to get rid of. I liken this to debt. The longer you ignore it, the worse it gets and the harder it is to clean it up.

    • Derek   January 4, 2017 at 9:39 pm

      Exactly. It brings the whole system down. Everything is connected.

      Maybe even because there are no clean dishes you order pizza instead of cooking and your health suffers too!

  7. Go Finance Yourself!   February 3, 2017 at 7:16 am

    Great analogy. A lot of people start off with no plan for their money and no way of tracking it. They get into a big hole and it becomes harder and harder to get out of. Just like when the dishes pile up in the sink. Tackle your money now so it doesn’t become a monster in the future!

    • Derek   February 3, 2017 at 1:10 pm


  8. CoupleofCents   February 3, 2017 at 9:55 am

    And this whole time I thought my wife was OCD to always wash the dishes after every meal!

    • Derek   February 3, 2017 at 1:10 pm

      haha, well… I guess we still can’t rule that out!

  9. Ty   February 3, 2017 at 12:25 pm

    I really like the analogy. Of course, the Minimalist in me says that the dishes can’t pile up if you only have enough to serve one meal! This forces you to do the dishes before you can eat again.

    Now, how do we translate that to finances? Automated bill payments? Automated investment contributions? One index fund only?

    • Derek   February 3, 2017 at 1:11 pm

      ohhh, I like this. I see what you are getting at.

      Use fewer dishes and it makes the entire process even easier!
      Simply your finances and your chances for success grow.

  10. Kraken Fireball   February 3, 2017 at 2:39 pm

    I must be weird because I enjoy doing dishes, I have a dishwasher and prefer to wash things by hand. I got excited when I saw someone wrote a post about washing dishes. My excitement increased when I read about Tiller. I am all about DIY and Tiller looks like an enabler for that. RIP my Friday afternoon because I’ll be playing with this.
    Thanks for showing this to me. And let me know the next time your sink gets too full I’ll come by and help 😉

    • Derek   February 4, 2017 at 8:32 pm

      haha, I know what you mean about losing your Friday night. When I first heard about Tiller I was so excited! I’ve been using Tiller for a few months now and just love it.
      Here’s a post with some more info…

  11. Physician on FIRE   February 3, 2017 at 3:21 pm

    You could say the amount of work required compounds as you continue to add more and more dishes. The growth is not linear, but resembles a logarithmic or exponential scale.

    The dishes get done every day at our house, but I’m rarely responsible. I do it just often enough to Make it a Treat.


    • Derek   February 4, 2017 at 8:33 pm

      I’m gonna need to see some charts and graphs please! 😉

  12. Madison   February 3, 2017 at 4:26 pm

    I love this. I’ve certainly had to practicing stepping back some as well, too. More of a having the wisdom to know when to let go kind of thing.
    Dishwashing tangent:
    I used to say that I could never live somewhere without a dishwasher. Well, I’ve been living without one for over a year and a half now.
    I actually don’t think I’ll ever want one again now that I’ve come to sort of enjoy dishwashing when I want to step away from a screen. I started practicing whatever the idea is where you do something you hate more intentionally – in this case that means really feeling the water and soap, noticing things you hadn’t before, etc. It’s worked since I clearly don’t hate doing dishes anymore.
    Also, we live in an in-law unit, so it takes a while for hot water to get back to us from the tank in the main house. I started doing dishes before I or my boyfriend shower about a year ago and it’s been amazing in keeping on top of them with very little extra time dedicated to doing them outside of that. Of course, we also get the bonus of water conservation where we used to just let it run until it was hot.
    PS – Being from Tennessee, I’m not sure I was the most truthful about this confirming I’m not a hillbilly.

    • Derek   February 4, 2017 at 8:36 pm

      I’ll let you slide on the hillbilly thing! ha!

      Funny, since I wrote this post I’ve enjoyed keeping up with the dishes more. It helps to look at the positives… I’m grateful to even have dishes and food and clean running water.

      It’s funny how something like not having a dishwasher can teach such great life lessons.

  13. Trying   February 4, 2017 at 1:10 pm

    TIL that my click-bait hook for an FI article is someone talking about dishes. That was more enjoyable than it had any business being. Thank you sir.

    • Derek   February 4, 2017 at 8:37 pm

      You are very welcome! Although I will argue as to the click-baityness of my article. I thought it was pretty straight-forward. 😉

  14. Lake Girl   February 5, 2017 at 10:21 am

    My parents always said they didn’t need a dishwasher as they had 9 kids! They stayed on top of their money too! Both excellent role models. I like the analogy!

  15. Dividend Diplomats   February 5, 2017 at 11:44 am

    HDIM –

    Great article and wow, you can apply that to all facets – “the more you pile it up, the less motivated you are to get to it” – so many things this relates to. Great article for everyone to apply that to different areas – working out, saving, investing, relationships, etc.


  16. Quintina   April 2, 2017 at 9:45 am

    “I laid down on the cold kitchen floor and cried like a drug addict for an hour” i feel the exact same way!


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