Rich Man, Poor Man

By Christopher M. Leporini, REALTOR® Magazine

Real estate entrepreneur Robert Kiyosaki calls two men “Dad.” His natural father was a diligent former civil servant whose middling pay and business failures seemed incongruous with his advanced education. His best friend’s father (and Kiyosaki’s mentor), became a multimillionaire, despite dropping out of high school. Kiyosaki believed that the different ways the two men viewed money largely accounted for the disparity in their financial fortunes. He contrasted the lessons that he learned from each in his best-selling Rich Dad, Poor Dad. In the sequel, CASHFLOW Quadrant: Rich Dad’s Guide to Financial Freedom, (Warner Books, 2000. $17.95) Kiyosaki (with Sharon L. Lechter) continues to explore how perspectives on money subconsciously affect our chances for financial success.

The four quadrants in the book’s title are the four basic types of workers: employees, self-employed, business owners, and investors. While Kiyosaki contends that it’s possible to become rich in any of the quadrants, he believes that the business owner and investor quadrants are the best places to get ahead. These quadrants produce wealth more easily because other people are working to make your money grow. Kiyosaki also believes that since your quadrant is a reflection of your core values about money and life, successfully moving into the high-wealth quadrants requires a major shift in attitude.

An important element in making this transition, says Kiyosaki, is to change your cash flow allocations—it’s not what you make (the inflow); it’s what you spend and what you save that matter. No matter how much money you make or how hard you work, your financial future looks bleak until you start building your assets for tomorrow. The idea of working smarter, not harder, is hardly a ground-breaking concept, but the book does raise interesting points in describing how our preconceptions can prevent us from recognizing opportunity and keep us from focusing on our own long-term financial goals.

But making the decision to invest your money is just the first step toward wealth; you have to invest smart. “Most people invest 95 percent with their eyes and only 5 percent with their minds,” Kiyosaki’s rich dad advised him on a real estate deal. In other words, people buy emotionally instead of rationally. In Kiyosaki’s case, it was a hot property “too good to pass up.” But he had failed to ask all the pertinent questions about the terms of the deal. Consequently, his hot property would soon have became a cold fish. His rich Dad helped him to restructure the deal so that it would become profitable. The book doesn’t provide much in-depth advice on analyzing specific types of investments, but it does sketch out the fundamental issues you need to keep in mind.

Writing in an conversational, anecdote-laden style, Kiyosaki makes a persuasive case for the idea that achieving financial success depends on rethinking your views about money. Fear holds people back, he says. They limit their financial success because they are unwilling to take a gamble. But simple willingness to take a risk does not immediately translate to financial independence. It also requires an awareness of the means through which you are spending and earning money.

Although Rich Dad’s CASHFLOW Quadrant may oversimplify some points, its basic idea—that our conception of money influences how much wealth we accumulate—is worthwhile. Its most valuable role is not as a step-by-step blueprint for running your life, but rather as a compass to evaluate whether your personal financial strategy is taking you in the right direction. Just remember, father knows best… as long as you pick the right one.

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This post was contributed exclusively for REALTOR® Magazine.

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