Learning to Get Rich

As can be seen by some of my earlier posts, I've been giving a lot of thought lately to money.

The most recent book I've finished (there's another, tangentially related one, that I haven't finished yet), is a classic called Rich Dad, Poor Dad. I bought this one a long, long time ago (maybe as much as ten years), and forgot about it until it showed up on top of a pile when we moved (well, when I unpacked my books, which was significantly after the move itself).

After reading those other two, I thought I'd work through this one, as well, and see what I thought of it. Aside from the parts where he talks about taxes, where he discusses them like they're a suckers game, I thought it was very good.

Mostly it talks about learning to make money, and learning to learn about finances. It discusses cash flow a little bit (more than I had seen before, though I think I already understood the concept well enough not to really get anything out of it directly), and mostly talks about building your assets.

When you boil it down to essence, it's largely saying that you need to save your money. And, what's more, save it somewhere where you can make more money off of it. He talks a lot about making your money work for you (which, for me, leads to some rather odd mental images), but it is an important idea.

One thing he implies, but never says explicitly, is that, over the long term, a conservative investment strategy (say, putting all your money into bonds), is actually a losing one. To carry his analogy further, it always works, but doesn't work very hard.

But the biggest, and most important part, is that he continually talks about improving your financial literacy. And that's definitely very important. You do need to keep learning, and improving yourself. This is largely why I've been reading books like this. I'm not sure if I'll find anything to make myself more money (I doubt either of the other books mentioned will), but I'll find out more about how the world operates. And occasionally I will find things to make money directly (I might have, in this book; definitely there are some things worth exploring).

Another thing that he keeps coming back to is how working for a big company will never get you to come out ahead. You might do pretty well, but you can easily just find yourself stuck in the rat race, where you make more money, only to spend more. Just like in the Millionaire book, don't get sucked in to buying status symbols if you really want to get ahead.

He also talks about finding advisers who can help you, and about how to deal with them. That was another part that's likely to be especially helpful to me, as I'm really bad about that part. In fact, I think I'll look around to see if there are any good books about that.

Anyway, there were only two things I disliked about the book. The first, as I mentioned, was the treatment of taxes as a sucker's game that is to be avoided whenever possible. The author's father lamented that the biggest problem with the country (and this was back in the fifties or sixties, it sounded like) was the huge gap between the rich and poor. Well, the way the tax laws have been manipulated since then has resulted in that gap absolutely exploding in size. If it was a concern back then, then it's pretty much a terminal condition now. And it's that attitude of taxes being a sucker's game that has made things get that way.

The other is that, when he talks about assets and liabilities (and that's a really good section, if that isn't second nature to you already (and it was, to me, even though I never thought about it in those terms)), he says that he doesn't consider a house (as in, principal residence) to be an asset. There's a tiny kernel of truth in there; something along the lines of not spending the limit of what you can afford to buy your home. But it still doesn't work; just look at the definition of asset he gives several pages later, and you can see how his argument falls on its face.

But as I said, that assets/liabilities section is really well done. The aforementioned status symbols, of course, all fall into the category of liability. And he really drills it home; buy assets, not liabilities. Get the liabilities when you can easily afford them, not when you can barely afford them (or, better yet, don't buy them at all :).

One other thing to consider, though, is that he strongly discourages specialization. Basically, his argument is that specialization makes you very vulnerable to having the rug pulled out from under you. I certainly understand where he's coming from; when I got into my Master's program, I had to decide whether to specialize or not. Basically, you couldn't get into their (or maybe even any) doctoral program without specializing, but you would have to write a thesis. Anyway, I didn't specialize, and I didn't because I didn't want to end up pigeon-holed. And I don't regret that decision.

But the part to be aware of, is that, particularly in technological fields, pretty much all progress is made by people who specialize. So if you really want to drive your field (whatever that field is) forward, you probably need to get that PhD, and specialize. Just be aware of what that does for you, financially. Of course, if you do push things forward, you'll probably make plenty of money (although the odds go up a great deal if you own the company). Basically, I just bring it up as something to keep in mind.

What I didn't know before is that this is but the first in a series of books. I'm going to have to think about whether to buy (some of?) the others. But this book definitely gets a strong recommendation.

No comments:

Post a Comment