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Robert Kiyosaki grew up with two father figures: “poor dad” – his real father who died with bills to pay – and “rich dad,” who started with little before becoming one of the richest men in Hawaii.
Both fathers were successful in their careers, worked hard their entire lives, and earned substantial incomes, but one always struggled financially.
Kiyosaki started to notice fundamental differences in the way “rich dad” and “poor dad” thought, spoke, and acted: “I noticed that my poor dad was poor, not because of the amount of money he earned, which was significant, but because of his thoughts and actions,” he writes in the personal finance classic, “Rich Dad Poor Dad.”
Here are six timeless lessons he learned from “rich dad” that helped Kiyosaki master his money, build wealth, and ultimately retire comfortably at the age of 47:
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‘It’s not how much money you make. It’s how much money you keep.’
Most of us learn how to make money – how to get a job and work hard – yet we don’t learn how to manage it, the important part. “Money without financial intelligence is money soon gone,” states Kiyosaki.
You don’t need to be an expert, have an MBA, or even study personal finance books cover-to-cover to acquire financial intelligence. Start by learning the difference between an asset and a liability, the single most important distinction to recognize if you want to get rich, Kiyosaki says. Next, focus on bettering your savings, and ensure that more money is not going out than coming in.
It’s also important to note that more money will often not solve your financial problems. “In fact, it may compound the problem,” Kiyosaki writes. “Money often makes obvious our tragic human flaws, putting a spotlight on what we don’t know. That is why, all too often, a person who comes into a sudden windfall of cash – let’s say an inheritance, a pay raise, or lottery winnings – soon returns to the same financial mess, if not worse, than the mess they were in before.”
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‘The poor and the middle class work for money. The rich have money work for them.’
Kiyosaki isn’t the only one to point out that there is a difference between how rich people and average people choose to get paid. Average people choose to get paid based on time – on a steady salary or hourly rate – while rich people generally own their own businesses, work on commission, or choose stock options and profit sharing over higher salaries.
“If you work for money, you give the power to your employer,” Kiyosaki writes. “If money works for you, you keep the power and control it.”
Working for money is the easier path – it’s what we’re taught in school (how to write a résumé, get a job, and work hard). Having your money work for you – by starting a company, being your own boss, or investing – requires calculated risk and a level of comfort with uncertainty.
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‘It’s not the smart who get ahead, but the bold.’
“In the real world outside of academics, something more than just grades is required,” Kiyosaki writes. “I have heard it called many things: guts, chutzpah, balls, audacity, bravado, cunning, daring, tenacity, and brilliance. This factor, whatever it is labeled, ultimately decides one’s future much more than school grades do.”
As important as it is to take risks to accumulate wealth, it’s equally important to be smart about risk-taking, which is why Kiyosaki emphasizes “managing” risk. Blind risk won’t get you anywhere, but intelligent risk – in your which education and experience play a key role – is the mother of reward.
The key to intelligent risk is developing financial intelligence, Kiyosaki writes: “There is always risk. It is financial intelligence that improves the odds.” He recommends reading up on accounting, investing, and the markets to start becoming more financially intelligent.
“Your financial genius requires both technical knowledge as well as courage,” Kiyosaki says.
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‘The single most powerful asset we all have is our mind. If it is trained well, it can create enormous wealth.’
Rich people find creative solutions to money problems. They take whatever happens and make it better using their financial intelligence, Kiyosaki emphasizes.
“Financial intelligence is simply having more options,” he writes. “If the opportunities aren’t coming your way, what else can you do to improve your financial position? If an opportunity lands in your lap and you have no money and the bank won’t talk to you, what else can you do to get the opportunity to work in your favor? … It is not so much what happens, but how many different financial solutions you can think of to turn a lemon into millions.”
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‘The rich focus on their asset columns while everyone else focuses on their income statements.’
While average people are busy concerning themselves with their hourly pay, rich people are focusing on their assets and net worth.
Start acquiring assets – things that put money in your pocket – rather than liabilities, things that take money out of your pocket. Assets are things like stocks, bonds, your own company, and intellectual property, while liabilities include mortgages, consumer loans, and credit cards.
“The long-term rich build their asset column first,” Kiyosaki writes. “Then the income generated from the asset column buys their luxuries. The poor and middle class buy luxuries with their own sweat, blood, and children’s inheritance.”
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‘People who avoid failure also avoid success.’
Most people never win because they’re afraid of losing, or failing, Kiyosaki explains.
“Yet if you look at the way humans are designed to learn, we learn by making mistakes,” he writes. “We learn to walk by falling down. If we never fell down, we would never walk. The same is true for learning to ride a bike … The same is true for getting rich … Failure is part of the process of success.”
“I look at my money much like my game of tennis,” he continues. “I play hard, make mistakes, correct, make more mistakes, correct, and get better. If I lose the game, I reach across the net, shake my opponent’s hand, smile, and say, ‘See you next Saturday.'”