Rich dad, poor dad: What the rich teach their kids about money–that the poor and the middle class do not!!

Rich dad, poor dad: What the rich teach their kids about money–that the poor and the middle class do not!!

Bill Belew has raised 2 bi-cultural kids, now 34 and 30. And he and his wife are now parenting a 3rd, Mia, who is 8.

Now, that I have an opportunity to discuss about dads, I decided to talk about the book I read lately, “Rich dad, poor dad“. This will throw immense light on the rich and poor dads that exist. This book has some decent information in it  and is inspirational at points. It did not really do the squat for me, however is totally connected to the topic I am blogging about. When he isn’t engaged in his nearly incessant showboating, Kiyosaki (the author) actually gets down to some practical, all be it general, guidance on how to think about money.Probably the greatest insight is how to think about assets and liabilities. A million accountants scream in anguish, but a primary residence, with a large mortgage, high taxes and high fixed costs to top it off, is not an “asset” for Kiyosaki because it doesn’t produce a positive cash flow. Instead, he lists several items, such as rental property, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, business partnerships with limited involvement, promissory notes and royalties, that generate money and should be invested in.

Another learning was not to get into large debt positions for non-necessities. Buy your luxury items for cash. This is part of any sound financial planning and is taken to its logical endpoint by the authors of “The Millionaire Next Door.”

Watch out for the tax effect of your sales of real estate. In this sense, the book is out of date, since the tax laws were changed in the late 90s to permit up to $250,000 in capital gains ($500,000 for married couples) from the sale of a primary residence be exempt from federal tax, under certain circumstances. No longer must you rely on the 1031 “trading up” provision he describes, at least not exclusively.

Fear can be utilized as a great motivator to act, as opposed to fear causing you to be a deer in the headlights of life. However, before we all run off to leverage real estate to become gentle people of leisure, let’s try to remember a few things.

Some times I felt that this book is written for one reason. May be just for the author to earn some money. Kiyosaki is even somewhat up-front about it, noting that royalties are one of the best assets for a person to have. Therefore, you should be skeptical — not cynical but merely skeptical — about the advice he gives.

For every Kiyosaki there’s a multiple of people who crashed and burned in stock and real estate speculation, and the difference between the author and those people is due in some measure to chance. It is much easier to invest in undervalued, illiquid assets in downturns when you’re already sitting on a pile of cash.

Dropping our current jobs to do Kiyosaki’s kind of analysis and investing does not make sense for most of us. After all, our jobs are, in Kiyosaki’s sense, an “asset” because they generate positive cash flow. The principle of “paying yourself first” is not something to be applied inflexibly. Kiyosaki is giving everyone advice from a position that may not be applicable to everyone. Yes, the idea of saving a portion of your income is a good idea, even an outstanding idea. But stiffing the tax man and your creditors is not, and unless you operate a business or are engaged in a profession where you can rapidly earn extra cash, it’s not a good idea to try to scare yourself into coming up with a brilliant plan to pay them off. You might wind up with a solution like George Segal and Jane Fonda in “Fun With Dick and Jane.”

Beware the author’s personal biases. If he truly believed that America is “on the course” to collapsing because the difference between the haves and have-nots is widening, he’d be investing in foreign real estate, in gold and would hold a lot of money in cash. He’s not. In fact, he does the exact opposite. He bets on American’s long-term stability by purchasing real estate.

The author casually talks about extremely risky investments, such as $5,000 investments returning $1,000,000, as if these were almost ordinary. That’s highly misleading. He does mention in the book that out of ten limited investments, a preponderance of his business investments “go nowhere” or completely fail, but that should be highlighted when those stratospheric returns are mentioned.

Overall, Kiyosaki has some good advice. However, do not think that you are likely to duplicate his personal experience to success. If you look at how he made his money, he essentially got rich holding real estate in the 70s, in Hawaii, as well as being one of the state’s best salesmen. He was at the right place at the right time, with a particular important skill. He then had sufficient money in the 80s and 90s to be able to invest in real estate in the economic downturns. So his position does not correspond to most of ours.

There are two concepts in this book that are worth something. The first is the simple definition of financial independence: you must have income sources (not counting your job) equal to your expenses. (Actually, you need more, because the unexpected always happens.) The second concept is simply that if you’re eager to get ahead, then what you learn on the job will be more important than what you earn.If you get these two things, you can toss the rest of the book. All the real information on all the pertinent subjects are covered in much more detail elsewhere; mostly what the rest of this book is pontificating re: his philosophies toward money, education, and what makes a loser vs. a winner. It’s his attitude that he is selling. He offers an attractive combination of scorn, pompousness, hope, appeal to greed, and justification.The biggest problem I have with the book is that this guy himself has no recognition of what he has given up. He doesn’t understand the concept of ‘opportunity cost’ at all. This book is really no more than a passionate argument that his values are right and other values are dumb.For instance, after he defines wealth as income > expenses, he says, “you can’t be too rich”. Then he describes how he quit a job he loved (flying) to master sales.IMO rich is good *only* insofar as it allows you to pursue your true goals and desires. This guy seems to me to have it reversed; his goals and desires serve his desire for wealth instead of vice versa. Ironically, he keeps saying, “I don’t work for money, money works for me!” – have you ever been a salesperson? Is there any more servile job? Even a waitress doesn’t have to coax the customer to buy something. It’s all about what the other guy wants; it’s all about being pleasing to other people, and serving them.Also, in another sense, it is entirely possible to be “too rich”; brazen selfishness of the sort this guy defends begets enemies, and history is littered with unapologetic greed causing chains of events that bring down wealth and power. One does not have to be a passionate believer in karma to be a little wary of anyone who thinks morals are for idiots and losers. (Like his real dad.)His “rich dad” is the man he wishes were his dad; an 8th grade dropout with (we are told)a reputation for selfishness and exploiting his workers.

Reputation is apparently something you should be willing to live without in order to be rich. His employees hate him and, apparently, frequently curse him. This apparently amuses Rich Dad – one more sign of how powerful and cool he is? Rich Dad teaches the author that power means playing petty power trips, intimidating vendors & employees, making people wait in the waiting room, etc.

Then he describes how he quit a job he loved (flying) to master sales.IMO rich is good *only* insofar as it allows you to pursue your true goals and desires. This guy seems to me to have it reversed; his goals and desires serve his desire for wealth instead of vice versa. Ironically, he keeps saying, “I don’t work for money, money works for me!” – have you ever been a salesperson? Is there any more servile job? Even a waitress doesn’t have to coax the customer to buy something. It’s all about what the other guy wants; it’s all about being pleasing to other people, and serving them.Also, in another sense, it is entirely possible to be “too rich”; brazen selfishness of the sort this guy defends begets enemies, and history is littered with unapologetic greed causing chains of events that bring down wealth and power. One does not have to be a passionate believer in karma to be a little wary of anyone who thinks morals are for idiots and losers. (Like his real dad.)His “rich dad” is the man he wishes were his dad; an 8th grade dropout with (we are told)a reputation for selfishness and exploiting his workers. Reputation is apparently something you should be willing to live without in order to be rich. His employees hate him and, apparently, frequently curse him. This apparently amuses Rich Dad – one more sign of how powerful and cool he is? Rich Dad teaches the author that power means playing petty power trips, intimidating vendors & employees, making people wait in the waiting room, etc.

Quite frankly, he neither sounds like someone I’d want to be, nor does he sound like a particularly well-adjusted person. Certainly not very *happy* (which is no doubt why he’s so good at defending and justifying his questionable practices).

Poor Dad, on the other hand, is the author’s own real father. The author showers so much contempt on his unfortunate father that I started imagining this book was written to get a last word in against a dead father who steadfastly refused to ‘see reason’. The reason I start thinking this is because the father, as described by the author, claimed he “loves teaching” (the author absolutely insists that this just means his father was too dumb to figure out he could have made more money elsewhere) and obviously values education. The author, on the other hand, sees value only in “financial literacy”, and describes himself challenging teachers (as in, what has this got to do with earning money? – a question guaranteed to seriously wound any parent who values education).

Personally, I think the author comes across as quite ignorant-sounding, especially when he’s talking about politics and history and the like. (At some points so does his Rich Dad, IMO).

I also think that when he openly pities the poor idiotic girl who envies him his bestseller status, & he tries to explain to her about how to learn to hype – spend a few years mastering sales and advertising etc., and she walks away – well, it seems pretty clear to me that *he* is the one who just doesn’t ‘get it’.

In the end, you get what you chase, what you prioritize. Everyone does. This guy seems continually astounded that anyone could value anything other than cash, and that seems to be the underlying theme of the book. To get Rich, you have to make money your focus, your goal – you must put it first, you must dedicate yourself to learning the games and strategies of wealth, you must stop thinking like everyone else and learn how to think like rich people.

If you want to think like a rich person, though, I wouldn’t recommend this particular rich person; I’d recommend someone a little less sleazy. Like maybe the guys who run Franklin Covey – I understand they’re rich as sin and can still talk about things like “integrity”.

Some of the not so good things about the book are as follows: First, most people focus on his inspiration and pointing out that you need to save money instead of spending it. To put it bluntly, “Duh.” To be more constructive, there are much better books on this subject – for instance, “Your Money or Your Life.” It’s easy to spout platitudes about why you should save, but Kiyosaki doesn’t tell you how.

Second, his real estate advice. Kiyosaki emphasizes making money in real estate, since it seems clear that is how he made his fortune. But he does a terrible job explaining that as well. People have lost fortunes in real estate; Donald Trump went from being a billionaire to losing most of his empire. It isn’t easy. Kiyosaki himself says that winners learn from their failures; where are his failures?

Perhaps he should refer people to other books about real estate, but one of the books he recommends was written by a man who had a half-million dollars in tax liens filed against him and declared bankruptcy – all before “Rich Dad” was written. That isn’t exactly the kind of advice I was looking for!

Third, experts in the fields he talks about generally agree that his advice is bad. A review by an experienced real estate professional is here: http://www.johntreed.com/Kiyosaki.html. His advice on making money via IPOs is completely wrong; you can’t invest that little money so close to the IPO filing for such a large discount. It just isn’t done that way.

Fourth, his emphasis on making money. I like money, don’t get me wrong. Like most people reading this review, I’d like to be a millionaire. But, I think, there is an underlying current of meanness in Kiyosaki’s book. The way his “rich dad” kept people waiting and intimidated them with his power, the way Kiyosaki himself resented being left out of the parties held by the “rich kids.” It’s disturbing.

Fifth, for all the talk about spending less, Kiyosaki clearly lives up the high life (or claims to.) Rolex watches (why?), Porsches (again, why?)… all these are types of liabilities, which he spends most of the book saying you should avoid. It’s flash, which I think ties into his rejection as a ‘poor’ child, and also meant to impress the reader by letting them think that, someday, they too will be able to show off their wealth.

Most millionaire’s aren’t this way. “The Millionaire Next Door”, which cannot be recommended highly enough, has interviews with real millionaires who live modestly – in fact, probably living on less than you are – and yet they accumulated their fortunes through hard work. (Real estate and owning your own business qualifies as hard work!) It is a much more educational book, but is also more inspiring to see people like yourself who did make it.

Talk to Bill and others about their experiences raising bi-cultural Japanese-American kids.

 

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