Many adults today are trapped in the Rat Race. They work harder than ever to maintain their lifestyle with the only hope that they get a promotion which gives them more money and an easier life. However, when the promotion comes, they see a new world and have to work even harder.
If we don't prepare our kids for the Rat Race, they will enter it by default.
The story below is a fun way to teach your kids about the Rat Race but also how they can be prepared so they can escape it before most people.
The Rat Race Story
Ratunzel, Ratso and Splinter were rat friends who were now old enough to leave their family homes. This meant that they had to find their own cheese.
The good news was that there was a series of Rat Races each week where they could win some cheese. They had been training for these races their whole lives and did very well in practice races when they were at Rat School.
The First Race ...
Sure enough, they all did well in their first weekly rat races and each of them won some cheese.
They met up a few weeks later. "It's amazing. Each week I get more cheese than I can eat" said Ratunzel.
"Not me. I'm now eating more cheese than ever. Not sure how I survived eating so little before" said Ratso.
Splinter chipped in, "I've been trading the regular cheese we've been eating all these weeks for some of this newer cheese. You don't get as much but it tastes soooo nice. I'm going to enter this harder race, The 'Super' Rat Race, so I win this nicer cheese each week. Not sure I can live on our regular cheese anymore, not now I've tasted the good stuff".
"There's another race, where you can win nicer cheese? Sign me up!" said the other two.
The Super Rat Race ...
They all trained hard for The 'Super' Rat Race.
Ratso and Splinter met up a few weeks later.
"I've been doing really well in The 'Super' Rat Race and getting the nicer cheese each week! It tastes so good. I can't help but eat it all up. I couldn't imagine eating our old type of cheese." Said Ratso.
"I know! It's so good. But now that I've just had some kids, there isn't as much cheese for me. Although, I've heard there is The 'Ulitmate' Rat Race where you get loads more of the nice cheese!" replied Splinter.
"Sounds good. I'll do the same as I've now got kids too. By the way, where's Ratunzel?" Ratso asked.
"I saw her the other day eating regular cheese. Maybe she isn't doing so well in her races like us," said Splinter.
The 'Ultimate' Rat Race ...
Ratso and Splinter trained harder than ever for The 'Ultimate' Rat Race. The training was becoming tough and taking more of their time. This meant they didn't get to see their kids as much as they hoped.
They managed to win cheese at The 'Ultimate' Rat Race and met up again.
"All this training is making me so tired. I just want to be at home and play with my kids but by the time I get home it's so late and I'm so tired," said Ratso.
"I know. My one hope is to enter The 'Ultimate Pro' Rat Race. If we win that, I'm sure that means we will have the best life," replied Splinter as he slumped trying to rest his tired feet.
Just then, they saw Ratunzel and her family coming along singing a song.
"Hey guys, how are you doing? We've just been staying at the Ratz-Carlton Hotel - it was so much fun. The kids loved it" said Ratunzel.
"How have you to managed to go there? Where do you find the time and cheese to do that? Aren't you training for the weekly Rat Race?" asked Ratso.
Escaping The Rat Race ...
"I don't need to train or race these days. You see, once I started winning cheese in the weekly Rat Race and then The 'Ultimate' Rat Race, I kept eating regular cheese. As there was more than I could eat, I gave the rest of my cheese to the Aristorat who would look after it for me. As I didn't eat it, it matured and became worth much more. After many weeks, I had so much cheese saved that I could trade it for a cow and a cheese-making machine. Now I can make cheese when I want without having to run the races. I can even trade lots of my regular cheese for the nicer cheese as a treat every now and then" explained Ratunzel.
"You've got your own cow! I wish I had done that. I want to stop training but my family needs so much cheese and they all love the nice cheese so much. I'm not sure we can go back to eating regular cheese and save up for a cow like you" replied Splinter.
"Of course you can. It will be hard and you'll have to get used to eating regular cheese for a while. Remember you used to love it when we were kids. If you do, in the future, you'll have your own cow and can treat yourself to the nicer cheese every now and then. Most importantly, you won't have to run in The Rat Race or the 'Ultimate Max Pro' Rat Race like everyone else." said Ratunzel.
"There's an 'Ultimate MAX Pro' version of the race!!!! I thought the 'Ultimate Pro' Race was the last one?! I can't take it any more. I'm going to make some changes and get out of these rat races. I wished I had known about these different races when I was younger, so I could have done what you did. How did you know to look after your cheese?" asked Ratso.
"I was lucky. My parents told me all about it so I was well prepared. I knew it would be difficult to eat regular cheese when you were all eating the nicer cheese all the time but I'm glad I did save now" said Ratunzel.
I'm going to eat regular cheese and open my own martial arts club on the weekend so I can earn some more cheese. I'm going to save that cheese so I will be like you, Ratunzel. I might occasionally treat myself to a cheese pizza when I have friends come over," said Splinter.
Both Ratso and Splinter managed to escape from doing the Rat Races eventually. They also made sure their kids followed in Ratunzel's footsteps.
If you and your kids like money stories, then please check out my book, Grandpa's Fortune Fables.
Explaining The Rat Race To Your Kids
The main lesson from this story is to help your kids understand that Ratso and Splinter did what many people do in real life. Instead of 'Cheese', it's 'Money'. Instead of 'Racing', it's 'Work'.
It's so easy to get a taste of having more money and the nicer things that it can buy, just like the nice cheese. This means working harder to get more money at work. However, each time you work harder, you discover that what you have isn't enough and you have to do more work (enter the different races in the story that you didn't know existed at the start).
Whilst all the hard work is okay when they are young, as they get older, they'll want to spend more time with their families and enjoy life. This can be hard if they are working so hard all the time to keep earning money (winning the cheese).
To be clear, I'm not suggesting that your kids don't work hard and seek to get promotions. The key point is to let them know that when they do win their races (get promotions and earn more money), they look after this money. Just like Ratunzel saved some of her cheese.
If they look after their money and make it grow, they will one day have enough that will give them money without working. This is money invested in the stock market or real estate that pays them without working. Just like Ratunzel had her cow to make cheese without racing.
Other important lessons from the story:
Don't judge someone based on what they spend. In the story, Ratso and Splinter thought Ratunzel wasn't doing as well as them at the start as she was still eating regular cheese. They didn't appreciate she was saving!
Ratunzel had to watch her friends eat nice cheese all the time when she was eating her regular cheese. This is hard to do and can make you 'feel poor' in the short term. This is an important lesson and one I discussed in my last blog: Why Your Kids Have To 'Feel Poor' To Become Wealthy'.
If you want to teach your kids more about how to make their money grow (like Ratunzel's maturing cheese in the story), then read my popular blog: How To Teach Your Kids About The Stock Market
Before you finish reading this blog, I have a favour to ask...
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If you want to make sure your kids are not trapped in the Rat Race, you need to tell them about it. Explaining the rat race to your kids can help them look after their money. This means they can plan to leave the Rat Race in the future and be like Ratunzel.
Help them start following the 3 Rules of Wealth now so that when they are older they will continue to follow them as adults. This will ensure they have the option to leave the race, rather than getting trapped like so many people today.
New content and stories to help teach your kids about money is coming soon - make sure you subscribe (see footer) so you don't miss out (plus you get the FREE Money Tracker For Kids).
Thanks for reading!
P.S., I know this is a bit "cheesy", but I want to let you know that I'm so grateful for the hundreds of people who have left reviews on Amazon for my book, Grandpa's Fortune Fables. If you haven't got the book already (or want to get another copy), then check out my limited-time Special Bundle Offer (the book, plus online games, worksheets and Course)