Many people go through life not knowing they have the option to escape the rat race and live life on their terms.
In this article, I'll go over what the rat race is and how you can escape it using 3 simple steps:
- Cutting Back On Spending
- Building Passive Income
The first step is to reexamine and identify if you are caught in the rat race. To complete this step, we need to review the definition of the rat race and its cycle.
What Is The Rat Race?
The rat race is an endless, self-defeating, or pointless pursuit. The rat race is a lifestyle that is the opposite of a simple life. It's also a state of mind in which you always compete for wealth and power.
The phrase “rat race” originates from lab experiments in which two rats were trying to outrun each other to receive a reward (a piece of cheese).
Usually, people start the rat race after they graduate high school or college.
By design, it keeps you feeling like you are always catching up. Always pursuing the next promotion or lifestyle upgrade and thus having to secure more wealth or power.
Someone in the rat race must compete with others in the workplace or society for this increase in wealth or power. The competition is fierce and can have lasting adverse effects such as an increase in stress, declining health, or family issues.
The Rat Race Cycle
The idea of the rat race is there is no end. It's a perpetual, exhausting, unfulfilling race to nowhere. There will always be a nicer house, car, boat, etc…
The rat race cycle looks like this:
As you strive to climb the cooperate ladder, you are rewarded with a promotion and more money (also more responsibility). Your expenses increase because of “lifestyle creep.”
Lifestyle Creep or Lifestyle Inflation is when your lifestyle becomes more expensive as your income increases. Former luxuries become new necessities.
This can be due to social pressure to upgrade your lifestyle or a belief that you “deserve” these new luxuries because you work so hard.
An expense increase motivates you to keep working harder for another promotion/pay increase. You've taken on more responsibility and stress.
You're seeing your family less and less. Your life consists of waking up early and working long hours 5 to 6 days a week.
You look forward to the weekend, but it goes by too quickly.
You are caught in the rat race of thinking more money = more happiness.
The only end to this cycle is when you reach retirement and are physically unable to compete anymore in the workforce. You are pushed out for a younger version of yourself who is just starting their rat race.
The trouble with being in the rat race is that even if you win, you're still a rat.
– Lily Tomlin
Now that we understand the rat race, we can explore how to escape this endless cycle.
Escape The Rat Race
Escaping the rat race takes careful planning and execution. Escaping the rat race is simple but not easy. Consumer culture and big corporations are working hard to ensure we are kept in the race.
However, following this guide will help you leave the rat race for good and lead you to the simpler life you desire.
How To Escape The Rat Race
- Cutting Back On Spending
- Building Passive Income
Taking action on these 3 key areas will allow you to escape the rat race for good. It won't happen overnight.
However, by taking action today, you will be in a better position than most. Again, most people don't even know they are stuck in a rat race.
So let's get into the specifics of each key point.
Recognizing you are caught up in the rat race is the first step to planning your escape. You can't escape a situation if you are unaware you are in it.
So, take a few moments to reflect on your life.
Ask Yourself These Questions:
- Is there an end goal?
- Are you trying to keep up with the Joneses?
- Do you feel constant pressure to get a promotion?
- Are the “higher-ups” living a life you want to live?
- Do you wish you had more time for family and friends?
- Have previous accomplishments brought you fulfillment?
You need to ask yourself these questions to determine if you are focusing your energy in the right places.
If you feel like you have consistently put your career before your family, friends, and passions, then you likely have fallen victim to the rat race.
Cutting Back On Spending
We will never escape the rat race if we cannot live below our means. Even a millionaire lives paycheck to paycheck if they have millions in yearly expenses.
It's not how much money you make that counts, but how much money you keep.
– Robert Kiyosaki
I've written about the benefits of embracing frugality on your path to financial independence. It helps you leave the rat race faster and, in my opinion, live an overall happier life.
I was hoping you could start today, so I've researched for you. I've used most of these to cut my expenses drastically and without affecting my overall lifestyle.
Ideas For Cutting Expenses
- Rent Out A Room In Your House
- Use Travel Rewards For Trips
- Move To A Lower Cost Area
- Cut Your Cable Bill
- Reduce Your Phone Bill
- Reduce Electric Bill With LED Bulbs
- Refinance Your Student Loans
- Cancel The Gym & Workout At Home
- Grocery Shop At Aldi
- Save on Medications
- Invest In Clippers & Cut Your Hair
I recommend taking action on as many of these as you can. I would not be surprised if you could save thousands of dollars from these resources.
The best part is you save that money every year! Therefore, adequate savings can compound over the years.
With the power of marginal gains, even if you can't take action on all of these, it's helpful to embrace frugality and think about ways to save in whichever way you can.
Personally, frugality is about spending money only where there is value. I refuse to spend money in areas because society says I should.
This is why I don't drive a fancy car or wear fancy clothes. Not because I don't like those things but because I've decided to prioritize financial independence over those items.
Reducing your expenses and spending money only where you find value is critical to escaping the rat race. This goes against our social norms, which is why so many people stay stuck in the same cycle.
Use the resources above to keep more money in your pocket.
Next, I'll show you how to build a money machine that pays you while you sleep.
Building Passive Income
You can exit the rat race by working hard at building a passive income stream. This part might sound counterintuitive. I have been guiding you out of working hard and into a simple life.
However, building a passive income stream takes actual work initially.
The difference is you are working for yourself and securing your financial success instead of your company's.
It's also vital to have the right mindset and learn new concepts to help grow your business. The best resource for me has been my public library.
With the right mindset, you can focus on building your money-making machine. Anyone can earn passive income, but it will look different for everyone.
Where you go from here will depend on your strengths and interests. You can begin investing in rental properties if you enjoy learning about real estate.
If you enjoy photography, you can start selling your photos to people like me who need them for their blogs. There is no shortage of passive income ideas.
The following list is my best recommendation; I will add more as I get feedback from the community.
Passive Income Ideas
- Invest In Real Estate
- Start Your Own Business
- Create A Website (I recommend using NameHero as your host)
- Start An Etsy Shop
- Create Courses For Udemy
- Create & Sell Stock Photos
The key is to pick something you enjoy and see yourself being able to grow into a business over time. This is important because it will take time for your business to grow.
Commit to growing your business for the long term and always pivot your business in the right direction instead of quitting.
The goal is to wake up every day excited to work on your business instead of someone else's.
The most important part is taking action! Learn about alternative lifestyles that don't focus on consumerism. I recommend listening to the Inspire To FIRE Podcast, where I interview amazing guests from the FIRE Community.
This shifts your mindset from working harder to working smarter.
The world is changing; to me, there is no better time to start building your business. Instead of telling yourself, “one day I'll start,” make today day one!
You will never be 100% ready, and the “perfect” time will never come.
My challenge is to start today by taking action on at least one resource I've outlined above.
I hope this was valuable to you and helps you escape the rat race for good!