A friend’s child has been developing a nasty habit of burning a hole in his pocket. Just 16, he wanted his own car. The excuse: “All his friends’ parents gave their kids cars.” The child wanted to go into his savings and use it for a down payment. That was when his father called me and then came to see me.
“Do you think I should let him do it, or should I just buy him a car?”
I answered, “It might relieve the pressure in the short term, but what have you taught him in the long term? Can you use this desire to own a car and inspire your son to learn something?” Suddenly the lights went on, and he hurried home.
Two months later I ran into my friend again. “Does your son have his new car?” I asked.
“No, he doesn’t. But I gave him $3,000 for the car. I told him to use my money instead of his college money.”
“Well, that’s generous of you,” I said. “Not really. The money came with a hitch.”
As I said earlier, if a person cannot master the power of self- discipline, it is best not to try to get rich. I say this because, although the process of developing cash flow from an asset column is easy in theory, what’s hard is the mental fortitude to direct money to the correct use. Due to external temptations, it is much easier in today’s consumer world to simply blow money out the expense column. With weak mental fortitude, that money flows into the paths of least resistance. That is the cause of poverty and financial struggle.
So what kind of assets am I suggesting that you or your children acquire? In my world, real assets fall into the following categories:
Businesses that do not require my presence I own them, but they are managed or run by other people. If I have to work there, it’s not a business. It becomes my job.
Income-generating real estate
Royalties from intellectual property such as music, scripts, and patents
Anything else that has value, produces income or appreciates, and has a ready market
As a young boy, my educated dad encouraged me to find a safe job. But my rich dad encouraged me to begin acquiring assets that I loved. “If you don’t love it, you won’t take care of it.” I collect real estate simply because I love buildings and land. I love shopping for them, and I could look at them all day long. When problems arise, the problems aren’t so bad that it changes my love for real estate. For people who hate real estate, they shouldn’t buy it.
I also love stocks of small companies, especially start-ups, because I am an entrepreneur, not a corporate person. In my early years, I worked in large organizations, such as Standard Oil of California, the U.S. Marine Corps, and Xerox Corp. I enjoyed my time with those organizations and have fond memories, but I know deep down I am not a company man. I like starting companies, not running them. So my stock buys are usually of small companies.
Rich Dad Poor Dad
When I say mind your own business, I mean to build and keep
your asset column strong. Once a dollar goes into it, never let it come
out. Think of it this way: Once a dollar goes into your asset column, it
becomes your employee. The best thing about money is that it works
24 hours a day and can work for generations. Keep your day job, be a
great hardworking employee, but keep building that asset column.
As your cash flow grows, you can indulge in some luxuries. An important distinction is that rich people buy luxuries last, while the poor and middle class tend to buy luxuries first. The poor and the middle class often buy luxury items like big houses, diamonds, furs, jewelry, or boats because they want to look rich. They look rich, but in reality they just get deeper in debt on credit. The old-money people, the long-term rich, build their asset column first. 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.
Although both dads worked hard, I noticed that one dad had a habit of putting his brain to sleep when it came to finances, and the other had a habit of exercising his brain. The long-term result was that one dad grew stronger financially, and the other grew weaker. It is not much different from a person who goes to the gym to exercise on a regular basis versus someone who sits on the couch watching television. Proper physical exercise increases your chances for health, and proper mental exercise increases your chances for wealth.
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 ask, “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 that you should buy everything you want. He was fanatical about exercising your mind, the most powerful computer in the world. He’d say, “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.
My two dads had opposing attitudes and that affected the way they thought. One dad thought that the rich should pay more in taxes to take care of those less fortunate. The other said, “Taxes punish those who produce and reward those who don’t produce.”
One dad recommended, “Study hard so you can find a good company to work for.” The other recommended, “Study hard so you can find a good company to buy.”
One dad said, “The reason I’m not rich is because I have you kids.” The other said, “The reason I must be rich is because I have you kids.”
One encouraged talking about money and business at the dinner table, while the other forbade the subject of money to be discussed over a meal.
One said, “When it comes to money, play it safe. Don’t take risks.” The other said, “Learn to manage risk.”
One believed, “Our home is our largest investment and our greatest asset.” The other believed, “My house is a liability, and if your house is your largest investment, you’re in trouble.”
Both dads paid their bills on time, yet one paid his bills first while the other paid his bills last.
One dad believed in a company or the government taking care of you and your needs. He was always concerned about pay raises, retirement plans, medical benefits, sick leave, vacation days, and other perks. He was impressed with two of his uncles who joined the military and earned a retirement-and-entitlement package for life after twenty years of active service. He loved the idea of medical benefits and PX privileges the military provided its retirees. He also loved the tenure system available through the university. The idea of job protection for life and job benefits seemed more important, at times, than the job. He would often say, “I’ve worked hard for the government, and I’m entitled to these benefits.”
The other believed in total financial self-reliance. He spoke out against the entitlement mentality and how it created weak and financially needy people. He was emphatic about being financially competent.
One dad struggled to save a few dollars. The other created investments. One dad taught me how to write an impressive resumé so I could find a good job. The other taught me how to write strong business and financial plans so I could create jobs.