فصل 02 - بخش 01

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فصل 02 - بخش 01

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CHAPTER Two - Part 01

Lesson Two: Why Teach Financial Literacy?

In 1990, my best friend, Mike, took over his father’s empire and is, in fact, doing a better job than his dad did. We see each other once or twice a year on the golf course. He and his wife are wealthier than you could imagine. Rich dad’s empire is in great hands, and Mike is now grooming his son to take his place, as his dad had groomed us.

In 1994, I retired at the age of 47, and my wife, Kim, was 37. Retirement does not mean not working. To my wife and me, it means that barring unforeseen cataclysmic changes, we can work or not work, and our wealth grows automatically, staying way ahead of inflation. I guess it means freedom. The assets are large enough to grow by themselves. It’s like planting a tree. You water it for years and then one day it doesn’t need you anymore. It’s roots have gone down deep enough. Then, the tree provides shade for your enjoyment.

Mike chose to run the empire and I chose to retire.

Whenever I speak to groups of people, they often ask what I would recommend or what could they do? “How do they get started?” “Is there a good book I would recommend?” “What should they do to prepare their children?” “What is the secret to success?” “How do I make millions?” I am always reminded of this article I was once given. It goes as follows.

THE RICHEST BUSINESSMEN

In 1923 a group of our greatest leaders and richest businessmen held a meeting at the Edgewater Beach hotel in Chicago. Among them were Charles Schwab, head of the largest independent steel company; Samuel Instill, president of the world’s largest utility; Howard Hopson, head of the largest gas company; Ivar Kreuger president of the International Match Co., one of the world’s largest companies at that time; Leon Frazier, president of the Bank of International Settlements; Richard Whitney, president of the New York Stock Exchange; Arthur Cotton and Jesse Livermore, two of the biggest stock speculators; and Albert Fall, a member of President Harding’s cabinet. Twenty five years later nine of them (those listed above) ended as follows. Schwab died penniless after living for five years on borrowed money. Instill died broke living in a foreign land. Kreuger and Cotton also died broke. Hopson went insane. Whitney and Albert Fall were just released from prison. Fraser and Livermore committed suicide.

I doubt if anyone can say what really happened to these men. If you look at the date, 1923, it was just before the 1929 market crash and the Great Depression, which I suspect had a great impact on these men and their lives. The point is this: Today we live in times of greater and faster change than these men did. I suspect there will be many booms and busts in the next 25 years that will parallel the ups and downs these men faced. I am concerned that too many people are focused too much on money and not their greatest wealth, which is their education. If people are prepared to be flexible, keep an open mind and learn, they will grow richer and richer through the changes. If they think money will solve problems, I am afraid those people will have a rough ride. Intelligence solves problems and produces money. Money without financial intelligence is money soon gone.

Most people fail to realize that in life, it’s not how much money you make, it’s how much money you keep. We have all heard stories of lottery winners who are poor, then suddenly rich, then poor again. They win millions and are soon back to where they started. Or stories of professional athletes, who, at the age of 24, are earning millions of dollars a year, and are sleeping under a bridge by age 34. In the paper this morning, as I write this, there is a story of a young basketball player who a year ago had millions. Today, he claims his friends, attorney and accountant took his money, and now he works at a car wash for minimum wage.

He is only 29. He was fired from the car wash because he refused to take off his championship ring as he was wiping off the cars, so his story made the newspaper. He is appealing his termination, claiming hardship and discrimination and that the ring is all he has left. He claims that if you take that away, he’ll crumble.

In 1997, I know so many people who are becoming instant millionaires. It’s the Roaring ’20s one more time. And while I am glad people have been getting richer and richer, I only caution that in the long run, it’s not how much you make, it’s how much you keep, and how many generations you keep it.

So when people ask, “Where do I get started?” or “Tell me how to get rich quick,” they often are greatly disappointed with my answer. I simply say to them what my rich dad said back to me when I was a little kid. “If you want to be rich, you need to be financially literate.” That idea was drummed into my head every time we were together. As I said, my educated dad stressed the importance of reading books, while my rich dad stressed the need to master financial literacy.

If you are going to build the Empire State Building, the first thing you need to do is dig a deep hole and pour a strong foundation. If you are going to build a home in the suburbs, all you need to do is pour a 6-inch slab of concrete. Most people, in their drive to get rich, are trying to build an Empire State Building on a 6-inch slab.

Our school system, having been created in the Agrarian Age, still believes in homes with no foundation. Dirt floors are still the rage. So kids graduate from school with virtually no financial foundation. One day, sleepless and deep in debt in suburbia, living the American Dream, they decide that the answer to their financial problems is to find a way to get rich quick.

Construction on the skyscraper begins. It goes up quickly, and soon, instead of the Empire State Building, we have the Leaning Tower of Suburbia. The sleepless nights return.

As for Mike and me in our adult years, both of our choices were possible because we were taught to pour a strong financial foundation when we were just kids.

Now, accounting is possibly the most boring subject in the world. It also could be the most confusing. But if you want to be rich, long term, it could be the most important subject. The question is, how do you take a boring and confusing subject and teach it to kids? The answer is, make it simple. Teach it first in pictures.

My rich dad poured a strong financial foundation for Mike and me. Since we were just kids, he created a simple way to teach us. For years he only drew pictures and used words. Mike and I understood the simple drawings, the jargon, the movement of money, and then in later years, rich dad began adding numbers. Today, Mike has gone on to master much more complex and sophisticated accounting analysis because he has had to. He has a billion-dollar empire to run. I am not as sophisticated because my empire is smaller, yet we come from the same simple foundation. In the following pages, I offer to you the same simple line drawings Mike’s dad created for us. Though simple, those drawings helped guide two little boys in building great sums of wealth on a solid and deep foundation.

Rule One. You must know the difference between an asset and a liability, and buy assets. If you want to be rich, this is all you need to know. It is Rule No. 1. It is the only rule. This may sound absurdly simple, but most people have no idea how profound this rule is. Most people struggle financially because they do not know the difference between an asset and a liability.

“Rich people acquire assets. The poor and middle class acquire liabilities, but they think they are assets”

When rich dad explained this to Mike and me, we thought he was kidding. Here we were, nearly teenagers and waiting for the secret to getting rich, and this was his answer. It was so simple that we had to stop for a long time to think about it.

“What is an asset?” asked Mike.

“Don’t worry right now,” said rich dad. “Just let the idea sink in. If you can comprehend the simplicity, your life will have a plan and be financially easy. It is simple; that is why the idea is missed.”

“You mean all we need to know is what an asset is, acquire them and we’ll be rich?” I asked.

Rich dad nodded his head. “It’s that simple.”

“If it’s that simple, how come everyone is not rich?” I asked.

Rich dad smiled. “Because people do not know the difference

between an asset and a liability.”

I remember asking, “How could adults be so silly. If it is that simple, if it is that important, why would everyone not want to find out?”

It took our rich dad only a few minutes to explain what assets and liabilities were.

As an adult, I have difficulty explaining it to other adults. Why? Because adults are smarter. In most cases, the simplicity of the idea escapes most adults because they have been educated differently. They have been educated by other educated professionals, such as bankers, accountants, real estate agents, financial planners, and so forth. The difficulty comes in asking adults to unlearn, or become children again. An intelligent adult often feels it is demeaning to pay attention to simplistic definitions.

Rich dad believed in the KISS principle-“Keep It Simple Stupid”-so he kept it simple for two young boys, and that made the financial foundation strong.

So what causes the confusion? Or how could something so simple be so screwed up? Why would someone buy an asset that was really a liability. The answer is found in basic education.

We focus on the word “literacy” and not “financial literacy.” What defines something to be an asset, or something to be a liability are not words. In fact, if you really want to be confused, look up the words “asset” and “liability” in the dictionary. I know the definition may sound good to a trained accountant, but for the average person it makes no sense. But we adults are often too proud to admit that something does not make sense.

As young boys, rich dad said, “What defines an asset is not words but numbers. And if you cannot read the numbers, you cannot tell an asset from a hole in the ground.”

“In accounting,” rich dad would say, “it’s not the numbers, but what the numbers are telling you. It’s just like words. It’s not the words, but the story the words are telling you.

Many people read, but do not understand much. It’s called reading comprehension. And we all have different abilities when it comes to reading comprehension. For example, I recently bought a new VCR. It came with an instruction book that explained how to program the VCR. All I wanted to do was record my favorite TV show on Friday night. I nearly went crazy trying to read the manual. Nothing in my world is more complex than learning how to program my VCR. I could read the words, but I understood nothing. I get an “A” for recognizing the words. I get an “F” for comprehension. And so it is with financial statements for most people.

“If you want to be rich, you’ve got to read and understand numbers.” If I heard that once, I heard it a thousand times from my rich dad. And I also heard, “The rich acquire assets and the poor and middle class acquire liabilities.”

Here is how to tell the difference between an asset and a liability. Most accountants and financial professionals do net agree with the definitions, but these simple drawings were the start of strong financial foundations for two young boys.

To teach pre?teen boys, rich dad kept everything simple, using as many pictures as possible, as few words as possible, and no numbers for years.

“This is the Cash Flow pattern of an asset.”

+————————+

—————>Income

| |————————-

 Expense

| +————————+

| ———————————–+

AssetsLiabilities
  
_________

The above box is an Income Statement, often called a Profit and Loss Statement. It measures income and expenses. Money in and money out. The bottom diagram is the Balance Sheet. It is called that because it is

supposed to balance assets against liabilities. Many financial novices don’t know the relationship between the Income Statement and the Balance Sheet. That relationship is vital to understand.

The primary cause of financial struggle is simply not knowing the difference between an asset and a liability. The cause of the confusion is found in the definition of the two words. If you want a lesson in confusion, simply look up the words “asset” and “liability” in the dictionary.

Now it may make sense to trained accountants, but to the average person, it may as well be written in Mandarin. You read the words in the definition, but true comprehension is difficult.

So as I said earlier, my rich dad simply told two young boys that “assets put money in your pocket.” Nice, simple and usable.

“This is Cash Flow pattern of a liability.”

+————————+

Income

|————————-

Expense

+—–|——————-+

——————————>

—————————|——–+

AssetsLiabilities
  
_________

Now that assets and liabilities have been defined through pictures, it may be easier to understand my definitions in words.

An asset is something that puts money in my pocket.

A liability is something that takes money out of my pocket.

This is really all you need to know. If you want to be rich, simply spend your life buying assets. If you want to be poor or middle class, spend your life buying liabilities. It’s not knowing the difference that causes most of the financial struggle in the real world.

Illiteracy, both in words and numbers, is the foundation of financial struggle. If people are having difficulties financially, there is something that they cannot read, either in numbers or words. Something is misunderstood. The rich are rich because they are more literate in different areas than people who struggle financially. So if you want to be rich and maintain your wealth, it’s important to be financially literate, in words as well as numbers.

The arrows in the diagrams represent the flow of cash, or “cash flow.” Numbers alone really mean little. Just as words alone mean little. It’s the story that counts. In financial reporting, reading numbers is looking for the plot, the story. The story of where the cash is flowing. In 80 percent of most families, the financial story is a story of working hard in an effort to get ahead. Not because they don’t make money. But because they spend their lives buying liabilities instead of assets.

For instance, this is the cash flow pattern of a poor person, or a young person still at home:

Job (provides income)-> Expenses(Taxes Food Rent Clothes Fun Transportation)

Asset (none)

Liability (none)

This is the cash flow pattern of a person in the middle class:

Job (provides income)-> Expenses(Taxes Food Mortgage Clothes Fun Transportation)

Asset (none)

Liability (Mortgage Consumer loans Credit Cards)

This is the cash flow pattern of a wealthy person:

Assets(stocks bonds notes real estate intellectual property)->income (dividends interest rental income royalties)

Liabilities (none)

All of these diagrams were obviously oversimplified. Everyone has living expenses, the need for food, shelter and clothing.

The diagrams show the flow of cash through a poor, middle class or wealthy person’s life. It is the cash flow that tells the story. It is the story of how a person handles their money, what they do after they get the money in their hand.

The reason I started with the story of the richest men in America is to illustrate the flaw in the thinking of so many people. The flaw is that money will solve all problems. That is why I cringe whenever 1 hear people ask me how to get rich quicker. Or where do they start? I often hear, “I’m in debt so I need lo make more money.” But more money will often not solve the problem; in fact, it may actually accelerate the problem. Money often makes obvious our tragic human flaws. Money often puts a spotlight on what we do not 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 they received the money. Money only accentuates the cash flow pattern running in your head. If your pattern is to spend everything you get, most likely an increase in cash will just result in an increase in spending. Thus, the saying, “A fool and his money is one big party,” I have said many times that we go to school to gain scholastic skills and professional skills, both important. We learn to make money with our professional skills. In the 1960s, when I was in high school, if someone did well in school academically, almost immediately people assumed this bright student would go on to be a medical doctor. Often no one asked the child if they wanted to be a doctor. It was assumed. It was the profession with the promise of the greatest financial reward.

Today, doctors are facing financial challenges I would not wish on my worst enemy; insurance companies taking control of the business, managed health care, government intervention, and malpractice suits, to name a few. Today, kids want to be basketball stars, golfers like Tiger Woods, computer nerds, movie stare, rock stars, beauty queens, or traders on Wall Street. Simply because that is where the fame, money and prestige is. That is the reason it is so hard to motivate kids in school today. They know that professional success is no longer solely linked to academic success, as it once was.

Because students leave school without financial skills, millions of educated people pursue their profession successfully, but later find themselves struggling financially. They work harder, but don’t get ahead. What is missing from their education is not how to make money, but how to spend money-what to do after you make it. It’s called financial aptitude-what you do with the money once you make it, how to keep people from taking it from you, how long you keep it, and how hard that money works for you. Most people cannot tell why they struggle financially because they don’t understand cash flow. A person can be highly educated, professionally successful and financially illiterate. These people often work harder than they need to because they learned how to work hard, but not how to have their money work for them.

The story of bow the quest for a Financial Dream turns into a financial nightmare. The moving-picture show of hard-working people has a set pattern. Recently married, the happy, highly educated young couple move in together, in one of their cramped rented apartments. Immediately, they realize that they are saving money because two can live as cheaply as one.

The problem is, the apartment is cramped. They decide to save money to buy their dream home so they can have kids. They now have two incomes, and they begin to focus on their careers.

Their incomes begin to increase.

As their incomes go up…their expenses go up as well.

The No. 1 expense for most people is taxes. Many people think it’s income tax, but for most Americans their highest tax is Social Security. As an employee, it appears as if the Social Security tax combined with the Medicare tax rate is roughly 7.5 percent, but it’s really 15 percent since the employer must match the Social Security amount. In essence, it is money the employer cannot pay you. On top of that, you still have to pay income tax on the amount deducted from your wages for Social Security tax, income you never receive because it went directly to Social Security through withholding. Then, their liabilities go up.

This is best demonstrated by going back to the young couple. As a result of their incomes going up, they decide to go out and buy the house of their dreams. Once in their house, they have a new tax, called property tax. Then, they buy a new car, new furniture and new appliances to match [heir new house. Ail of a sudden, they wake up and their liabilities column is full of mortgage debt and credit-card debt.

They’re now trapped in the rat race. A child comes along. They work harder. The process repeats itself. More money and higher taxes, also called bracket creep, A credit card comes in the mail. They use it. It maxes out. A loan company calls and says their greatest “asset,” their home, has appreciated in value. The company offers a “bill consolidation” loan, because their credit is so good, and tells them the intelligent thing to do is clear off the high-interest consumer debt by paying off their credit card. And besides, interest on their home is a tax deduction. They go for it, and pay off those high-interest credit cards. They breathe a sigh of relief. Their credit cards are paid off.

They’ve now folded their consumer debt into their home mortgage. Their payments go down because they extend their debt over 30 years. It is the smart thing to do.

Their neighbor calls to invite them to go shopping-the Memorial Day sale is on. A chance to save some money. They say to themselves, “I won’t buy anything. I’ll just go look.” But just in case they find something, they tuck that clean credit card inside their wallet.

I run into this young couple all the time. Their names change, but their financial dilemma is the same. They come to one of my talks to hear what I have to say. They ask me, “Can you tell us how to make more money?” Their spending habits have caused them to seek more income.

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