Rich Dad, Poor Dad: What The Rich Teach Their Kids About Money - That The Poor And Middle Class Do Not!
Rich Dad, Poor Dad became a bestseller during the dot.com boom of the late 1990s. Many ideas and businesses faded away when the bubble burst, but this book has kept on going because it has nothing to do with market frenzies and everything to do with our private attitudes to money.
Kiyosaki had two 'dads': his real one, who worked hard all his life as an educator in Hawaii; and a friend's father, who ran businesses and worked for himself. At age 9, the young Kiyosaki decided to follow the advice of the 'rich dad', and this book is the culmination of rich dad's teachings.
The rat race
Whose parents did not say, or at least strongly imply, that the reason we had to study hard at school was so we could go on to university and then get a secure job? This was the path to financial success, and anything else was too risky or strange to contemplate.
Accepting this conventional wisdom - a wisdom based on fear - most of us end up 'working for the man'. The average workplace has a sense of quiet desperation about it. People forever complain about their pay or the boss, but the alternative of quitting seems even worse. If you do go, you have another job lined up so there is a smooth transition from one pay packet to another.
Thanks to your fear, Kiyosaki says, for the rest of your life you are likely to be dependent upon a pay packet and an employer. As you gain a mortgage, consumer debt and children, your dependence only increases, and so does your fear of trying something different. Because you can't take any risks with what you do have, your retirement money is placed in mutual funds that emphasize safety, and which also have low rates of return. And because you are working all the time to get raises to keep up with inflation and debt interest, you have no time to discover alternative investments. To cap it off, Kiyosaki says, you are working January to mid-May just to pay your taxes. If you end up with enough to get by in your retirement, you will have done well.
This is the 'rat race'.
Assets and liabilities
Do you know that there is a difference between money and wealth? Money is a result of wealth or real value, and sometimes only a symbol of it. It is not actually real. What is real is what has generated the money: a business with revenues greater than costs, a property with rent greater than mortgage and upkeep, a creative work that earns royalties.
The poor and the middle class labour under the idea that money (usually a pay packet) is what matters. This equals 'security'. But the rich don't focus on pay from a job - they are more interested in something that makes money, and that will do so even when they are not around. Instead of looking for jobs, they scout for assets that will be a source of income. As rich dad told the young Kiyosaki, 'If you look for money and security, that's all you'll get.' You might get 'money' but not find the source of money.
The fundamental difference between the rich, and the poor and middle classes, is that the rich know the difference between an asset and a liability. Anything that generates money - that actually puts it in your pocket - is an asset. Everything else that you own that you think is an asset, be it your home, your car, your expensive set of golf clubs, is most probably a liability. It takes money out of your pocket.
You can tell someone who doesn't know much about money because they boast about how much they earn in their job. For the savvy, job earnings are almost an irrelevance. What matters, is the income coming in from assets that don't even need you to be around to generate cash.
Literate and educated
Would you describe yourself as 'literate'? Your answer may be 'Of course'. But do you know how to read a balance sheet? Rich dad told the author that accounting was a 'story in numbers', and if you could read these stories you had a great advantage. Financial literacy was as important as word literacy. 'Illiteracy, both in words and numbers, is the foundation of financial struggle' he said.
People frequently ask Kiyosaki, 'how do I start in getting rich?' The questioner is then disappointed to hear his response: before making any investments, educate yourself on all the options and opportunities. The more you know, the better your decisions will be. Lack of financial education teamed with the desire for quick riches leads to disaster. "Most people, in their drive to get rich, are trying to build an Empire State Building on a 6-inch slab", he says. What sort of knowledge foundation do you have?
One of Kiyosaki's fascinating points is the myth that 'specialization' is the path to wealth. The idea goes that if you know more and more about something, you will be paid more for your knowledge. The danger with this is that it may blind you to the business aspects of your profession. Most of us 'become what we study' i.e. if you study cooking, you become a chef, if you study medicine, you become a doctor or a specialist. As you start to know more about your field, you do become valuable - to whoever employs you. Kiyosaki warns that we can spend so much time educating ourselves that we forget to 'mind our own business'.
Make sure that financial knowledge is not left out of your learning.
Personal development and building wealth
The key to controlling money is controlling your emotions. How many people have won the lottery or gained a big windfall, only to lose it again in a year or two? In these situations, any deficiencies in financial education or self-discipline are magnified.
Becoming rich involves self-discipline and the ability to separate the emotions of fear and greed from a good investment decision. It may seem strange, but self-knowledge is vital to your financial future.
Kiyosaki's poor dad was alarmed when he joined Xerox as a salesman. Middle-class, educated people did not go into sales. But Kiyosaki was a shy person and thought that sales training would make him less so. He knew that successful people were not afraid of rejection, and that to get ahead in life you had to be good at selling, whether it was yourself or a thing. Once he was being interviewed by a journalist, an author herself, who asked him how she could become more successful at it. He told her to quit journalism for a year and take a sales job. He had given her the choice either to be a bestselling author or a best writing author. She didn't like the idea.
Kiyosaki has taken many courses and seminars; one, which cost him $300, made him $1 million when he applied its ideas. If he does not stimulate his mind and learning, he knows he will stand still. Opportunities come from new ideas. Money spent on self-improvement is always a wise investment.
We have all heard it said that the stock market is driven by 'fear and greed'. Robert Kiyosaki says that, for most of us, fear is the key influence in our personal economic lives. We are shaped by our attitude to money, and our attitude to money is shaped by our fear. If we could change our attitudes to risk and wealth, we could begin to think, act and live like the rich. But first we must become financially intelligent.
Some of the main concepts in Rich Dad, Poor Dad have been described here, but only some. If you are serious about long-term improvement of your financial situation, and are willing to admit that you know little, you should buy this book.
Source: 50 Success Classics: Winning Wisdom For Work and Life from 50 Landmark Books by Tom Butler-Bowdon (London & Boston: Nicholas Brealey).
"Rule one. You must know the difference between an asset and a liability, and buy assets. If you want to be rich, this is all you need to know."
Kiyosaki grew up in Hawaii, where his father was the chief of education for the state.After college in New York he worked for Standard Oil in tanker shipping, as a salesman for Xerox, and in his mid-20s joined the Marines, going to Vietnam as an officer and a helicopter pilot. He also began to buy and sell apartments and invest in stocks, and in 1977 successfully introduced nylon and velcro 'surfer wallets' to the United States.
His Cashflow Technologies firm, based in Phoenix, Arizona, sells business educational products around the world. Other books include Retire Young, Retire Rich and Rich Dad, Poor Dad 2: The Cashflow Quadrant.