Reading Room

Rich Dad, Poor Dad:  Robert Kiyosaki

“BothRichDadPoorDad men were successful in their careers, working hard all their lives. Both earned substantial incomes. Yet one struggled financially all his life. The other would become one of the richest men in Hawaii. One died leaving tens of millions of dollars to his family, charities and his church. The other left bills to be paid.”

“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.”

 

In a nutshell
Learn how money could work for you; unlearn the expectation that you must work for money.

Rich Dad, Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids about Money … That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not! 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 going because it has nothing to do with market frenzies and everything to do with our private attitudes to money.

The book’s title comes from Kiyosaki’s 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 Rich Dad, Poor Dad is the culmination of those teachings.

The rat race
Many people’s parents say, or at least strongly imply, that the reason we have to study hard at school is so that we can go on to university and then get a secure job. This is seen as the path to financial success, and anything else is 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 their boss, but the alternative of quitting seems even worse. If they do go, they have another job lined up so that 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 on a wage 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 emphasise safety, and 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 from 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. 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 you own that you think is an asset, be it your home, your car, or 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 Kiyosaki 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 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.” That is, 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 you can spend so much time educating yourself that you forget to “mind your 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 within 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. That prosperity is intertwined with personal growth is one of the secrets of wealth in the twenty-first century.

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 as 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.

Final comments
This book makes you think. It makes you reflect not merely about investments and assets, but about your whole attitude to work and life. We have all heard it said that the stock market is driven by “fear and greed.” Kiyosaki claims 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 attitude 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 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 Kiyosaki’s book.

This copy was taken from 50 Success Classics, written and compiled by Tom Butler-Bowdon.

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Communities not by choice

In the billowing clouds that are the creation of space and time, we began. The Genesis of cooperative human interaction lies in the clumps of matter we call communities.  In that void, made up of two thirds oxygcommunity1en, just under one fifth carbon and a tenth hydrogen, along with a sprinkling of nitrogen, we exist. I know I do exist, because I am aware that I do. And so I look around in this vast emptiness to find out just who my fellow travellers are. Are there any entities such as me? Are there any who would travel with me? Any who would love me?

There are human communities I am part of, not by choice but by birth right. I am part of the community of men because I was born so. About half of all the people that have ever existed are from this community, the other half are women. None of us had much choice in this matter, it was Fate. I am Caucasian, and not much different from my other brothers and sisters who are either Negroid or Mongoloid. That too was my Fate, not my choice. I happened to be born in the mid-1950’s on the southern tip of Africa. That was another hand dealt by Providence. An old English-speaking white guy from South Africa, pleased to meet you. Oh, did I mention my parents were English-speaking?

Even though I did not elect to be thus, it is still my responsibility to make the best of these unchosen circumstances. Therefore as a man, let me be manly and fulfil, as best as I can, the duties of a son, a brother, a husband and father, as Fate demands. As part of this vast community, let me be not proud of my manhood, rather humble. Let me extend my will, my goodwill to the other community, which is not that dissimilar from mine. We are made of the same stuff and we breathe the same air, we tread on the same earth. Let me extend my respect, my help and my love to woman. For in truth, in this vast universe we are equals. We blaze our path around the same sun together.

As an aging English-speaking white South African, may I be mindful of my country’s painful past. Let me be of help, not hindrance

community3

in building a broken nation. I acknowledge the white privileges I enjoy in as much as I acknowledge my Fate. It is my birth right therefore to be an instrument of healing and building. These are things thrust on me by Fate, I did not for ask them. Therefore let me glad of it because I have no other choice. Let me rejoice in this and let me make my contribution in my own way to the communities I did not choose.

And you, dear reader, what does Fate make of you? What communities chose you?

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