Needing something to read while on a trip, and thinking a lot about monetary issues as of late, I decided to pick up a copy of Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad, Poor Dad. It seems the Rich Dad company is releasing a new edition of the book in mass-market paperback format which, for a book like this, is the perfect size.
Because it’s a new edition, you can expect some updates and additions, and while there are, there really aren’t many: the principles laid out therein hold, even after the real estate market crashed. That’s what happens with sound principles: they work during the good times and the bad.
Kiyosaki’s style is very easy to read. It’s not the most well written book in the world (as he mentions a few times), and it uses a lot of repetition to get the point across, but the simplistic style means it’s accessible to most people.
The core of the book deals with the principles: what thought processes are important (working for money vs. money working for you; the importance of decision making; the acquisition of assets, and the difference between assets and liabilities; etc.) , what skills should be developed (accounting, marketing*, risk management, etc.), and what are the pitfalls people tend to encounter along the way. If you’ve worked a job upon which your livelihood depended on for more than a few years, and if you have recurring bills like cars, a home, or credit cards, you’ll recognize a lot of these pitfalls and will appreciate the solutions being presented, whether you’re new to this general topic or a seasoned veteran looking to get back on track.
(*You’ll get a very healthy dose of marketing examples in this book, as he spends a good amount of time talking about his other products. The examples aren’t out of place, they’re not cliffhangers (“If you want to learn about this, buy my expensive series!”), and in fact enhance the learning experience, but if you have a sharp eye and aren’t too critical about it, you’ll find yourself squinting your eyes, smiling, and maybe whispering, “I see what you did there.”)
While the first half of the book tells the story of how he acquired the foundations of his knowledge (mostly conversations with both his Rich Dad and his Poor Dad), the later half of the book deals mostly with the execution of those lessons in the acquisition and development of assets, and examples of what Kiyosaki was able to accomplish. It doesn’t get into a terrible amount of detail, however, so don’t expect a full course on how to run a business, even if all the basic principles are listed here. He also spend time talking about how to develop the proper thought processes, and talks about some of the lessons learned and observations made through the application of these.
Now, Rich Dad, Poor Dad focuses a lot on real estate, which may or may not be something you’re really into, especially given the recent market. Nevertheless, the thought processes he presents are applicable throughout your entire financial life, things like “knowing your business” (versus knowing your job or the appearances of your business), unionizing if you want to specialize, and learning a little about a lot if you want to be a business owner. The examples he presents are designed to give you a sense of empowerment, and lay out the foundation you’ll need to build before you can start building a proper financial future.
Toward the end of the book, extra emphasis is put into the idea of habits an action steps: ideas like paying yourself first, buying assets instead of expenditures (or “doodads” as he calls them), meeting and learning from people who are experts in what you want to learn, investing in knowledge by taking courses and attending seminars, and not fearing failure, but welcoming it as a part of the journey to success. The best example of this is comes in “Chapter Eight: Overcoming Obstacles”, where he states:
Overcoming the fear of losing money. I have never met anyone who really likes losing money. And in all my years, I have never met a rich person who has never lost money. But I have met a lot of poor people who have never lost a dime…investing, that is. The fear of losing money is real. Everyone has it. Even the rich. But it’s not the fear that is the problem It’s how you handle fear. It’s how you handle losing. It’s how you handle failure that makes the difference in one’s life”
If you’ve ever done anything you consider truly great, think about this statement and you’ll see that the truth of this holds. The book is full of many such examples.
Then and Now: A Retrospective
This wasn’t my first time reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad, but the last time I read it was nearly 8 years ago. Just to compare my thought process then to my thought process now now I decided to take a look at the older copy and see what I thought was important then by taking a look at what was underlined in that version. This other copy was purchased around 2003, before I was married, before I moved to Fort Lauderdale and survived 187 hurricanes, before having a million panic attacks, before moving back to Tampa and bought a house, before I got sick and got better, before… you get the picture.
Flipping through the pages of my old copy, I couldn’t help but notice all the stuff I underlined. There’s a surprising amount underlined as “important” only because that’s what I then believed should be important, what sounded good, not because it’s actually very useful or meaningful in real life, even at that point. It’s sort of like the kid who proclaims views as his own, when all he’s really doing is parroting the views of everyone around him, having no actual life experience to use as a basis for his opinions.
Having a few years of life experience to reflect upon, here are some thoughts this time around:
- The first couple of chapters are almost entirely (and embarrassingly) spot on for both myself and my wife. Despite all our preparations, despite all our learning, and despite all our activities, our mentality is… described here in frightening detail. I take comfort in the fact that our financial plan is well underway, and that we’ve made it a point to acquire and develop assets. Nevertheless I’m very glad I read this book now: it was needed, and it gives me a perspective I had all but forgotten.
- Maybe this is a result of the over-politicization of current American culture, but there are some assertions made throughout the book–particularly in regards to the effect of taxes and the very wealthy–that I simply cannot agree with. Sure, this line of thought maybe made sense when the top tax rate was over 70%, and in theory I want to agree with what’s being said (although I feel more uncomfortable about it now than I did when I first read it, and even then I wasn’t too comfortable with it), but reality doesn’t seem to match the theoretical assertions. Perhaps this is just a values/POV thing. I’ll re-evaluate when I’m wealthier.
It had been too long since I read Rich Dad, Poor Dad, but my mind was primed for it now, after recently re-reading Napoleon Hill’s Law of Success and its abridged version, Think and Grow Rich. My gut told me it was time to go back to the basics of finance, and if there’s one lesson I’ve learned (and re-learned as soon as I’ve forgotten it) is to listen closely to my gut. Somehow, it knows things I don’t.
All in all, if you haven’t read this book before, you should, especially if you haven’t read a lot about that topic before, and even more so if you’re in your late 20’s and early 30’s, since by now you’re likely to have some life experience. It’s an easy read, and straight to the point. The lessons are basic, and while they might feel too simplistic (especially when repeated over and over), they’re based on sound principles. If you take what you read seriously, it should help you set and plan your financial goals.
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