Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Incline Treadmill & The Invisible Hand

It starts off easy.

You put one feet in front of the other, step by step, the treadmill starts moving. How effortless! Each step forward builds confidence. You look around and can almost hear those four words playing in your head - "I can do this". 

The world's your oyster. 

Like most, you find that this planet is completely flawed but it's also a place where opportunities abound. So you keep walking forward, uncertain about what's ahead but remain confident that things will work out well, someday. 

Many of us graduate with a diploma, more fortunate ones; with a degree. On that 160gsm paper, your specialization and achievements are inked. For better or worse, that certificate didn't come without a price.

Some left with their ankles shackled to the weight of a massive student loan. At this point, you feel grateful that you'd be able to pay off that loan in slightly less than 10 years - with a job that pays $40,000 a year. 

All of a sudden, the treadmill seems to be moving faster - as if an invisible hand messed with the buttons on that treadmill you're on. You look around and again hear those four words playing in your head. 

This time it sounded a little different. It sounded more like, "Can I do this?"

All you can think about now is a job and a paycheck. Before you know it, a year has passed and you're handed more responsibilities in return for a salary. Some make wise choices at this stage but others surrender their future for the present, thinking that one day 'future-me' will deal with the credit card debt, medical problems, regrets and "should-haves".

Subtly and tenderly, the invisible hand messes with the buttons on your treadmill again. This time, you find yourself running to keep up with the speed of things. The job's getting tougher, there isn't any work-life balance and money never seems to be sufficient.

Now you hear a familiar whisper - in a slight change of tone, you hear yourself saying a variation of those four words... "I can't do this".

Then comes marriage, kids and the mortgage. Suddenly, every step feels heavier, you struggle to catch a breath. The treadmill tilts into an incline position. You can't find time, your hair fails to stay on your head - whatever remains, is in a pale shade of grey. Then comes old age, back problems, sickness and loneliness.

I shudder to think about what comes after that.

It sounds grim, but real, very least for those who live a 'normal' life.

But you.

You are not a tree - you don't need to conform to the railway tracks of society because you already know where that leads to.

You can do what's not 'normal' and that is, working towards freedom - a life that is free from debt, corporate rules, politics, and the endless walk to nowhere.

The only way to get off the incline treadmill is to get out of the 'system'.

But you need a freedom fund to do that.


As one of my goals in 2017, I am going back through my old posts and am trying to update them to make them more actionable. To do this I wanted to share some of my favourite resources related to escaping student loan debt and not falling into/escaping the "system".

-A book about making it through college with no debt: 

-A book about retiring early without having tons of money in the bank:

-My post about escaping the treadmill:

-Different repayment plans available to student loan borrowers:

-Insightful article about the benefits of student loan refinancing and how it can save you money:

-My post about the bucket system part 1:

-My post about the bucket system part 2:

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  1. The treadmill analogy is quite appropriate as people really are making things harder for themselves over time rather than easier. I doesn't make sense, but that's the traditional path that is set out for us all!

    1. And we have a choice to take the non-traditional path :)

  2. Right? I mentioned that I wanted to retire by 40 to a neighbor of mine and he said he just couldn't understand it. "What would you do?" Whatever the hell I want to!

    1. I don't think my parents get it either. Hah. I think there are 2 types of prisoners - the first serves their sentence and follows the system. The second carves a few rocks out of their cell every day. Both escapes eventually...the only difference is that the latter has a lifetime to look forward to.