POOR DAD RICH DAD
There is a Need
Does school prepare children for the real world? "Study hard and get good grades and you will find a high-paying job with great benefits," my parents used to say. Their goal in life was to provide a college education for my older sister and me, so that we would have the greatest chance for success in life. When T finally earned my diploma in 1976-graduating with honors, and near the top of my class, in accounting from Florida State University-my parents had realized their goal. It was the crowning achievement of their lives. In accordance with the "Master Plan," I was hired by a "Big 8" accounting firm, and I looked forward to a long career and retirement at an early age. My husband, Michael, followed a similar path. We both came from hard-working families, of modest means but with strong work ethics. Michael also graduated with honors, but he did it twice: first as an engineer and then from law school. He was quickly recruited by a prestigious Washington, D.C., law firm that specialized in patent law, and his future seemed bright, career path well-defined and early retirement guaranteed.
Although we have been successful in our careers, they have not turned out quite as we expected. We both have changed positions several times-for all the right reasons-but there are no pension plans vesting on our behalf. Our retirement funds are growing only through our individual contributions.
Michael and I have a wonderful marriage with three great children. As I write this, two are in college and one is just beginning high school. We have spent a fortune making sure our children have received the best education available.
One day in 1996, one of my children came home disillusioned with school. He was bored and tired of studying. "Why should I put time into studying subjects I will never use in real life?" he protested.
Without thinking, I responded, "Because if you don't get good grades, you won't get into college."
"Regardless of whether I go to college," he replied, "I'm going to be rich."
"If you don't graduate from college, you won't get a good job," I responded with a tinge of panic and motherly concern. "And if you don't have a good job, how do you plan to get rich?"
My son smirked and slowly shook his head with mild boredom. We have had this talk many times before. He lowered his head and rolled his
eyes. My words of motherly wisdom were falling on deaf ears once again. Though smart and strong-willed, he has always been a polite and respectful young man.
"Mom," he began. It was my turn to be lectured. "Get with the times! Look around; the richest people didn't get rich because of their educations. Look at Michael Jordan and Madonna. Even Bill Gates, who dropped out of Harvard, founded Microsoft; he is now the richest man in America, and he's still in his 30s. There is a baseball pitcher who makes more than $4 million a year even though he has been labeled `mentally challenged.' "
There was a long silence between us. It was dawning on me that I was giving my son the same advice my parents had given me. The world around us has changed, but the advice hasn't.
Getting a good education and making good grades no longer ensures success, and nobody seems to have noticed, except our children.
"Mom," he continued, "I don't want to work as hard as you and dad do. You make a lot of money, and we live in a huge house with lots of toys. If I follow your advice, I'll wind up like you, working harder and harder only to pay more taxes and wind up in debt. There is no job security anymore; I know all about downsizing and rightsizing. I also know that college graduates today earn less than you did when you graduated. Look at doctors. They don't make nearly as much money as they used to. I know I can't rely on Social Security or company pensions for retirement. I need new answers."
He was right. He needed new answers, and so did I. My parents' advice may have worked for people born before 1945, but it may be disastrous for those of us born into a rapidly changing world. No longer can I simply say to my children, "Go to school, get good grades, and look for a safe, secure job."
I knew I had to look for new ways to guide my children's education. As a mother as well as an accountant, I have been concerned by the lack of financial education our children receive in school. Many of today's youth have credit cards before they leave high school, yet they have never had a course in money or how to invest it, let alone understand how compound interest works on credit cards. Simply put, without financial literacy and the knowledge of how money works, they are not prepared to face the world that awaits them, a world in which spending is emphasized over savings.
When my oldest son became hopelessly in debt with his credit cards as a freshman in college, I not only helped him destroy the credit cards, but I also went in search of a program that would help me educate my children on financial matters.
One day last year, my husband called me from his office. "I have someone I think you should meet," he said. "His name is Robert Kiyosaki. He's
a businessman and investor, and he is here applying for a patent on an educational product. I think it's what you have been looking for."
Just What I Was Looking For
My husband, Mike, was so impressed with CASHFLOW, the new educational product that Robert Kiyosaki was developing, that he arranged for both of us to participate in a test of the prototype. Because it was an educational game, I also asked my 19-year-old daughter, who was a freshman at a local university, if she would like to take part, and she agreed.
About fifteen people, broken into three groups, participated in the test.
Mike was right. It was the educational product I had been looking for. But it had a twist: It looked like a colorful Monopoly board with a giant well-dressed rat in the middle. Unlike Monopoly, however, there were two tracks: one inside and one outside. The object of the game was to get out of the inside track-what Robert called the "Rat Race" and reach the outer track, or the "Fast Track." As Robert put it, the Fast Track simulates how rich people play in real life.
Robert then defined the "Rat Race" for us.
"If you look at the life of the average-educated, hard-working person, there is a similar path. The child is born and goes to school. The proud parents are excited because the child excels, gets fair to good grades, and is accepted into a college. The child graduates, maybe goes on to graduate school and then does exactly as programmed: looks for a safe, secure job or career. The child finds that job, maybe as a doctor or a lawyer, or joins the Army or works for the government. Generally, the child begins to make money, credit cards start to arrive in mass, and the shopping begins, if it already hasn't.
"Having money to burn, the child goes to places where other young people just like them hang out, and they meet people, they date, and sometimes they get married. Life is wonderful now, because today, both men and women work. Two incomes are bliss. They feel successful, their future is bright, and they decide to buy a house, a car, a television, take vacations and have children. The happy bundle arrives. The demand for cash is enormous. The happy couple decides that their careers are vitally important and begin to work harder, seeking promotions and raises. The raises come, and so does another child and the need for a bigger house. They work harder, become better employees, even more dedicated. They go back to school to get more specialized skills so they can earn more money. Maybe they take a second job. Their incomes go up, but so does the tax bracket they're in and the real estate taxes on their new large home, and their Social Security taxes, and all the other taxes. They
get their large paycheck and wonder where all the money went. They buy some mutual funds and buy groceries with their credit card. The children reach 5 or 6 years of age, and the need to save for college increases as well as the need to save for their retirement. .
"That happy couple, born 35 years ago, is now trapped in the Rat Race for the rest of their working days. They work for the owners of their company, for the government paying taxes, and for the bank paying off a mortgage and credit cards.
"Then, they advise their own children to `study hard, get good grades, and find a safe job or career.' They learn nothing about money, except from those who profit from their naïvet? and work hard all their lives. The process repeats into another hard-working generation. This is the `Rat Race'."
The only way to get out of the "Rat Race" is to prove your proficiency at both accounting and investing, arguably two of the most difficult subjects to master. As a trained CPA who once worked for a Big 8 accounting firm, I was surprised that Robert had made the learning of these two subjects both fun and exciting. The process was so well disguised that while we were diligently working to get out of the "Rat Race," we quickly forgot we were learning.
Soon a product test turned into a fun afternoon with my daughter, talking about things we had never discussed before. As an accountant, playing a game that required an Income Statement and Balance Sheet was easy. So I had the time to help my daughter and the other players at my table with concepts they did not understand. I was the first person-and the only person in the entire test group-to get out of the "Rat Race" that day. I was out within 50 minutes, although the game went on for nearly three hours.
At my table was a banker, a business owner and a computer programmer. What greatly disturbed me was how little these people knew about either accounting or investing, subjects so important in their lives. I wondered how they managed their own financial affairs in real life. I could understand why my 19-year-old daughter would not understand, but these were grown adults, at least twice her age.
After I was out of the "Rat Race," for the next two hours I watched my daughter and these educated, affluent adults roll the dice and move their markers. Although I was glad they were all learning so much, I was disturbed by how much the adults did not know about the basics of simple accounting and investing. They had difficulty grasping the relationship between their Income Statement and their Balance Sheet. As they bought and sold assets, they had trouble remembering that each transaction could impact their monthly cash flow. I thought, how many millions of people are out there in the real world struggling financially, only because they have never been taught these subjects?
Thank goodness they're having fun and are distracted by the desire to win the game, I said to myself. After Robert ended the contest, he allowed us fifteen minutes to discuss and critique CASHFLOW among ourselves. The business owner at my table was not happy. He did not like the game. "I don't need to know this," he said out loud. "I hire accountants, bankers and attorneys to tell me about this stuff."
To which Robert replied, "Have you ever noticed that there are a lot of accountants who aren't rich? And bankers, and attorneys, and stockbrokers and real estate brokers. They know a lot, and for the most part are smart people, but most of them are not rich. Since our schools do not teach people what the rich know, we take advice from these people. But one day, you're driving down the highway, stuck in traffic, struggling to get to work, and you look over to your right and you see your accountant stuck in the same traffic jam. You look to your left and you see your banker. That should tell you something." The computer programmer was also unimpressed by the game: "I can buy software to teach me this."
The banker, however, was moved. "I studied this in school-the accounting part, that is-but I never knew how to apply it to real life. Now I know. I need to get myself out of the `Rat Race.' "
But it was my daughter's comments that most touched me. "I had fun learning," she said. "I learned a lot about how money really works and how to invest."
Then she added: "Now I know I can choose a profession for the work I want to perform and not because of job security, benefits or howmuch I get paid. If I learn what this game teaches, I'm free to do and study what my heart wants to study. . .rather than study something because businesses are looking for certain job skills. If I learn this, I won't have to worry about job security and Social Security the way most of my classmates already do."
I was not able to stay and talk with Robert after we had played the game, but we agreed to meet later to further discuss his project. I knew he wanted to use the game to help others become more financially savvy, and I was eager to hear more about his plans.
My husband and I set up a dinner meeting with Robert and his wife within the next week. Although it was our first social get-together, we felt as if we had known each other for years.
We found out we had a lot in common. We covered the gamut, from sports and plays to restaurants and socio-economic issues. We talked about the changing world. We spent a lot of time discussing how most Americans have little or nothing saved for retirement, as well as the almost bankrupt state of Social Security and Medicare. Would my children be required to pay for the retirement of 75 million baby boomers? We wondered if people realize how risky it is to depend on a
Robert's primary concern was the growing gap between the haves and have nots, in America and around the world. A self-taught, self-made entrepreneur who traveled the world putting investments together, Robert was able to retire at the age of 47. He came out of retirement because he shares the same concern I have for my own children. He knows that the world has changed, but education has not changed with it. According to Robert, children spend years in an antiquated educational system, studying subjects they will never use, preparing for a world that no longer exists.
"Today, the most dangerous advice you can give a child is `Go to school, get good grades and look for a safe secure job,' " he likes to say. "That is old advice, and it's bad advice. If you could see what is happening in Asia, Europe, South America, you would be as concerned as I am."
It's bad advice, he believes, "because if you want your child to have a financially secure future, they can't play by the old set of rules. It's just too risky."
I asked him what he meant by "old rules?" .
"People like me play by a different set of rules from what you play by," he said. "What happens when a corporation announces a downsizing?" "People get laid off," I said. "Families are hurt. Unemployment goes up."
"Yes, but what happens to the company, in particular a public company on the stock exchange?"
"The price of the stock usually goes up when the downsizing is announced," I said. "The market likes it when a company reduces its labor costs, either through automation or just consolidating the labor force in general."
"That's right," he said. "And when stock prices go up, people like me, the shareholders, get richer. That is what I mean by a different set of rules. Employees lose; owners and investors win."
Robert was describing not only the difference between an employee and employer, but also the difference between controlling your own destiny and giving up that control to someone else.
"But it's hard for most people to understand why that happens," I said. "They just think it's not fair."
"That's why it is foolish to simply say to a child, `Get a good education,' " he said. "It is foolish to assume that the education the school system provides will prepare your children for the world they will face upon graduation. Each child needs more education. Different education. And they need to know the rules. The different sets of rules." "There are rules of money that the rich play by, and there are the rules that the other 95 percent of the population plays by," he said. "And
the 95 percent learns those rules at home and in school. That is why it's risky today to simply say to a child, `Study hard and look for a job.' A child today needs a more sophisticated education, and the current system is not delivering the goods. I don't care how many computers they put in the classroom or how much money schools spend. How can the education system teach a subject that it does not know?" So how does a parent teach their children, what the school does not? How do you teach accounting to a child? Won't they get bored? And how do you teach investing when as a parent you yourself are risk averse? Instead of teaching my children to simply play it safe, I decided it was best to teach them to play it smart.
"So how would you teach a child about money and all the things we've talked about?" I asked Robert. "How can we make it easy for parents especially when they don't understand it themselves?"
"I wrote a book on the subject, " he said.
"Where is it?"
"In my computer. It's been there for years in random pieces. I add to it occasionally but I've never gotten around to put it all together. I began writing it after my other book became a best seller, but I never finished the new one. It's in pieces."
And in pieces it was. After reading the scattered sections, I decided the book had merit and needed to be shared, especially in these changing times. We agreed to co-author Robert's book.
I asked him how much financial information he thought a child needed. He said it would depend on the child. He knew at a young age that he wanted to be rich and was fortunate enough to have a father figure who was rich and willing to guide him. Education is the foundation of success, Robert said. Just as scholastic skills are vitally important, so are financial skills and communication skills.
What follows is the story of Robert's two dads, a rich one and a poor one, that expounds on the skills he's developed over a lifetime. The contrast between two dads provides an important perspective. The book is supported, edited and assembled by me. For any accountants who read this book, suspend your academic book knowledge and open your mind to the theories Robert presents. Although many of them challenge the very fundamentals of generally accepted accounting principles, they provide a valuable insight into the way true investors analyze their investment decisions.
When we as parents advise our children to "go to school, study hard and get a good job," we often do that out of cultural habit. It has always been the right thing to do. When I met Robert, his ideas initially startled me. Having been raised by two fathers, he had been taught to strive for two different goals. His educated dad advised him to work for a corporation. His rich dad advised him to own the corporation.
Both life paths required education, but the subjects of study were completely different. His educated dad encouraged Robert to be a smart person. His rich dad encouraged Robert to know how to hire smart people. Having two dads caused many problems. Robert's real dad was the superintendent of education for the state of Hawaii. By the time Robert was 16, the threat of "If you don't get good grades, you won't get a good job" had little effect. He already knew his career path was to own corporations, not to work for them. In fact, if it had not been for a wise and persistent high school guidance counselor, Robert might not have gone on to college. He admits that. He was eager to start building his assets, but finally agreed that the college education would also be a benefit to him.
Truthfully, the ideas in this book are probably too far fetched and radical for most parents today. Some parents are having a hard enough time simply keeping their children in school. But in light of our changing times, as parents we need to be open to new and bold ideas. To encourage children to be employees is to advise your children to pay more than their fair share of taxes over a lifetime, with little or no promise of a pension. And it is true that taxes are a person's greatest expense. In fact, most families work from January to mid-May for the government just to cover their taxes. New ideas are needed and this book provides them.
Robert claims that the rich teach their children differently. They teach their children at home, around the dinner table. These ideas may notbe the ideas you choose to discuss with your children, but thank you for looking at them. And I advise you to keep searching. In my opinion, as a mom and a CPA, the concept of simply getting good grades and finding a good job is an old idea. We need to advise our children with a greater degree of sophistication. We need new ideas and different education. Maybe telling our children to strive to be good employees while also striving to own their own investment corporation is not such a bad idea. It is my hope as a mother that this book helps other parents. It is Robert's hope to inform people that anyone can achieve prosperity if they so choose. If today you are a gardener or a janitor or even unemployed, you have the ability to educate yourself and teach those you love to take care of themselves financially. Remember that financial intelligence is the mental process via which we solve our financial problems.
Today we are facing global and technological changes as great or even greater than those ever faced before. No one has a crystal ball, but one thing is for certain: Changes lie ahead that are beyond our reality. Who knows what the future brings? But whatever happens, we have two fundamental choices: play it safe or play it smart by preparing, getting educated and awakening your own and your children's financial genius.
- Sbaron Lecbter
For a FREE AUDIO REPORT "What My Rich Dad Taught Me About Money" all you have to do is visit our special website at www.richdadbooki.com and the report is yours free.
Rich Dad, Poor Dad
Rich Dad, Poor Dad
As narrated by Robert Kiyosaki
I had two fathers, a rich one and a poor one. One was highly educated and intelligent; he had a Ph.D. and completed four years of undergraduate work in less than two years. He then went on to Stanford University, the University of Chicago, and Northwestern University to do his advanced studies, all on full financial scholarships. The other father never finished the eighth grade.
Both 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.
Both men were strong, charismatic and influential. Both men offered me advice, but they did not advise the same things. Both men believed strongly in education but did not recommend the same course of study. If I had had only one dad, I would have had to accept or reject his advice. Having two dads advising me offered me the choice of contrasting points of view; one of a rich man and one of a poor man. Instead of simply accepting or rejecting one or the other, I found myself thinking more, comparing and then choosing for myself.
The problem was, the rich man was not rich yet and the poor man not yet poor. Both were just starting out on their careers, and both were struggling with money and families. But they had very different points of view about the subject of money.
For example, one dad would say, "The love of money is the root of all evil." The other, "The lack of money is the root of all evil." As a young boy, having two strong fathers both influencing me was difficult. I wanted to be a good son and listen, but the two fathers did not say the same things. The contrast in their points of view, particularly where money was concerned, was so extreme that I grew curious and intrigued. I began to start thinking for long periods of time about what each was saying.
Much of my private time was spent reflecting, asking myself questions such as, "Why does he say that?" and then asking the same question of the other dad's statement. It would have been much easier to simply say, "Yeah, he's right. I agree with that." Or to simply reject the point of view by saying, "The old man doesn't know what he's talking about." Instead, having two dads whom I loved forced me to think and ultimately choose a way of thinking for myself. As a process, choosing for myself turned out to be much more valuable in the long run, rather than simply accepting or rejecting a single point of view. One of the reasons the rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and the middle class struggles in debt is because the subject of money is taught at home, not in school. Most of us learn about money from our parents. So what can a poor parent tell their child about money? They simply say "Stay in school and study hard." The child may graduate with excellent grades but with a poor person's financial programming and mind-set. It was learned while the child was young.
Money is not taught in schools. Schools focus on scholastic and professional skills, but not on financial skills. This explains how smart bankers, doctors and accountants who earned excellent grades in school may still struggle financially all of their lives. Our staggering national debt is due in large part to highly educated politicians and government officials making financial decisions with little or no training on the subject of money.
I often look ahead to the new millennium and wonder what will happen when we have millions of people who will need financial and medical assistance. They will be dependent on their families or the government for financial support. What will happen when Medicare and Social Security run out of money? How will a nation survive if teaching children about money continues to be left to parents-most of whom will be, or already are, poor?
Because I had two influential fathers, I learned from both of them. I had to think about each dad's advice, and in doing so, I gained valuable insight into the power and effect of one's thoughts on one's life. For example, one dad had a habit of saying, "I can't afford it." The other dad forbade those words to be used. He insisted I say, "How can I afford it?" One is a statement, and the other is a question. One lets you off the hook, and the other forces you to think. My soon-to-be-rich dad would explain that by automatically saying the words "I can't afford it," your brain stops working. By asking the question "How can I afford it?" your brain is put to work. He did not mean buy everything you wanted. He was fanatical about exercising your mind, the most powerful computer in the world. "My brain gets stronger every day because I exercise it. The stronger it gets, the more money I can make." He believed that automatically saying "I can't afford it" was a sign of mental laziness.