Rich Dad Poor Dad is a book written by American businessman, author and investor Robert Kiyosaki in 2000. It advocates financial independence and building wealth through value investing, real estate investing, starting and owning businesses, as well as increasing one’s financial intelligence to improve one’s business and financial aptitude. Read the first chapter here
Lesson Two:Why Teach Financial Literacy?
In 1990, my best friend, Mike, took over his father’s empire and is, in fact, doing a better job than his dad did. We see each other once or twice a year on the golf course. He and his wife are wealthier than you could imagine. Rich dad’s empire is in great hands, and Mike is now grooming his son to take his place, as his dad had groomed us.
In 1994, I retired at the age of 47, and my wife, Kim, was 37. Retirement does not mean not working. To my wife and me, it means that barring unforeseen cataclysmic changes, we can work or not work, and our wealth grows automatically, staying way ahead of inflation. I guess it means freedom. The assets are large enough to grow by themselves. It’s like planting a tree. You water it for years and then one day it doesn’t need you anymore. It’s roots have gone down deep enough. Then, the tree provides shade for your enjoyment.
Whenever I speak to groups of people, they often ask what I would recommend or what could they do? “How do they get started?” “Is there a good book I would recommend?” “What should they do to prepare their children?” “What is the secret to success?” “How do I make millions?” I am always reminded of this article I was once given. It goes as follows
THE RICHEST BUSINESSMEN: In 1923 a group of our greatest leaders and richest businessmen held a meeting at the Edgewater Beach hotel in Chicago. Among them were Charles Schwab, head of the largest independent steel company; Samuel Instill, president of the world’s largest utility; Howard Hopson, head of the largest gas company; Ivar Kreuger president of the International Match Co., one of the world’s largest companies at that time; Leon Frazier, president of the Bank of International Settlements; Richard Whitney, president of the New York Stock Exchange; Arthur Cotton and Jesse Livermore, two of the biggest stock speculators; and Albert Fall, a member of President Harding’s cabinet.
Twenty five years later nine of them (those listed above) ended as follows. Schwab died penniless after living for five years on borrowed money. Instill died broke living in a foreign land. Kreuger and Cotton also died broke. Hopson went insane. Whitney and Albert Fall were just released from prison. Fraser and Livermore committed suicide.
I doubt if anyone can say what really happened to these men. If you look at the date, 1923, it was just before the 1929 market crash and the Great Depression, which I suspect had a great impact on these men and their lives. The point is this: Today we live in times of greater and faster change than these men did. I suspect there will be many booms and busts in the next 25 years that will parallel the ups and downs these men faced. I am concerned that too many people are focused too much on money and not their greatest wealth, which is their education. If people are prepared to be flexible, keep an open mind and learn, they will grow richer and richer through the changes. If they think money will solve problems, I am afraid those people will have a rough ride. Intelligence solves problems and produces money. Money without financial intelligence is money soon gone.
Most people fail to realize that in life, it’s not how much money you make, it’s how much money you keep. We have all heard stories of lottery winners who are poor, then suddenly rich, then poor again. They win millions and are soon back to where they started. Or stories of professional athletes, who, at the age of 24, are earning millions of dollars a year, and are sleeping under a bridge by age 34.
In the paper this morning, as I write this, there is a story of a young basketball player who a year ago had millions. Today, he claims his friends, attorney and accountant took his money, and now he works at a car wash for minimum wage. He is only 29. He was fired from the car wash because he refused to take off his championship ring as he was wiping off the cars, so his story made the newspaper. He is appealing his termination, claiming hardship and discrimination and that the ring is all he has left. He claims that if you take that away, he’ll crumble.
In 1997, I know so many people who are becoming instant millionaires. It’s the Roaring ’20s one more time. And while I am glad people have been getting richer and richer, I only caution that in the long run, it’s not how much you make, it’s how much you keep, and how many generations you keep it.
So when people ask, “Where do I get started?” or “Tell me how to get rich quick,” they often are greatly disappointed with my answer. I simply say to them what my rich dad said back to me when I was a little kid. “If you want to be rich, you need to be financially literate.”
That idea was drummed into my head every time we were together. As I said, my educated dad stressed the importance of reading books, while my rich dad stressed the need to master financial literacy.
If you are going to build the Empire State Building, the first thing you need to do is dig a deep hole and pour a strong foundation. If you are going to build a home in the suburbs, all you need to do is pour a 6-inch slab of concrete. Most people, in their drive to get rich, are trying to build an Empire State Building on a 6-inch slab.
Our school system, having been created in the Agrarian Age, still believes in homes with no foundation. Dirt floors are still the rage. So kids graduate from school with virtually no financial foundation. One day, sleepless and deep in debt in suburbia, living the American Dream, they decide that the answer to their financial problems is to find a way to get rich quick.
Construction on the skyscraper begins. It goes up quickly, and soon, instead of the Empire State Building, we have the Leaning Tower of Suburbia. The sleepless nights return.
As for Mike and me in our adult years, both of our choices were possible because we were taught to pour a strong financial foundation when we were just kids.
Now, accounting is possibly the most boring subject in the world. It also could be the most confusing. But if you want to be rich, long term, it could be the most important subject. The question is, how do you take a boring and confusing subject and teach it to kids? The answer is, make it simple. Teach it first in pictures.
My rich dad poured a strong financial foundation for Mike and me. Since we were just kids, he created a simple way to teach us. For years he only drew pictures and used words. Mike and I understood the simple drawings, the jargon, the movement of money, and then in later years, rich dad began adding numbers. Today, Mike has gone on to master much more complex and sophisticated accounting analysis because he has had to. He has a billion-dollar empire to run. I am not as sophisticated because my empire is smaller, yet we come from the same simple foundation.
In the following pages, I offer to you the same simple line drawings Mike’s dad created for us. Though simple, those drawings helped guide two little boys in building great sums of wealth on a solid and deep foundation.
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. It is Rule No. 1. It is the only rule. This may sound absurdly simple, but most people have no idea how profound this rule is. Most people struggle financially because they do not know the difference between an asset and a liability.
“Rich people acquire assets. The poor and middle class acquire liabilities, but they think they are assets”
When rich dad explained this to Mike and me, we thought he was kidding. Here we were, nearly teenagers and waiting for the secret to getting rich, and this was his answer. It was so simple that we had to stop for a long time to think about it.
“What is an asset?” asked Mike.
“Don’t worry right now,” said rich dad. “Just let the idea sink in. If you can comprehend the simplicity, your life will have a plan and be financially easy. It is simple; that is why the idea is missed.”
“You mean all we need to know is what an asset is, acquire them and we’ll be rich?” I asked.
Rich dad nodded his head. “It’s that simple.”
“If it’s that simple, how come everyone is not rich?” I asked.
Rich dad smiled. “Because people do not know the difference between an asset and a liability.”
I remember asking, “How could adults be so silly. If it is that simple, if it is that important, why would everyone not want to find out?”
It took our rich dad only a few minutes to explain what assets and liabilities were.
As an adult, I have difficulty explaining it to other adults. Why? Because adults are smarter. In most cases, the simplicity of the idea escapes most adults because they have been educated differently. They have been educated by other educated professionals, such as bankers, accountants, real estate agents, financial planners, and so forth. The difficulty comes in asking adults to unlearn, or become children again. An intelligent adult often feels it is demeaning to pay attention to simplistic definitions.
Rich dad believed in the KISS principle-“Keep It Simple Stupid”-so he kept it simple for two young boys, and that made the financial foundation strong.
Continue to Chapter 3 – Part 2