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CHAPTER SEVEN - Part 01

Overcoming Obstacles

Once people have studied and become financially literate, they may still face roadblocks to becoming financially independent. There are five main reasons why financially literate people may still not develop abundant asset columns. Asset columns that could produce large sums of cash flow. Asset columns that could free them to live the life they dream of, instead of working full time just to pay bills. The five reasons are: 1. Fear.

  1. Cynicism.

. Laziness.

. Bad habits.

. Arrogance.

Reason No. 1. Overcoming the fear of losing money. I have never met anyone who really likes losing money. And in all my years, I have never met a rich person who has never lost money. But I have met a lot of poor people who have never lost a dime. . .investing, that is.

The fear of losing money is real. Everyone has it. Even the rich. But it’s not fear that is the problem. It’s how you handle fear. It’s how you handle losing. It’s how you handle failure that makes the difference in one’s life. That goes for anything in life, not just money. The primary difference between a rich person and a poor person is how they handle that fear.

It’s OK to be fearful. It’s OK to be a coward when it comes to money. You can still be rich. We’re all heroes at something and cowards at something else. My friend’s wife is an emergency room nurse. When ; she sees blood, she flies into action. When I mention investing, she runs’j away. When I see blood, I don’t run. I pass out. My rich dad understood phobias about money. “Some people are terrified of snakes. Some people are terrified about losing money. Both are phobias,” he would say. So his solution to the phobia of losing money was this little rhyme: “If you hate risk and worry. . .start early.” That’s why banks recommend savings as a habit when you’re young. J If you start young, it’s easy to be rich. I won’t go into it here, but there is a large difference between a person who starts saving at age 20 versus age 30. A staggering difference.

It is said that one of the wonders of the world is the power of compound interest. The purchase of Manhattan Island is said to be one of the greatest bargains of all time. New York was purchased for $24 in trinkets and beads. Yet, if that $24 had been invested, at 8 percent annually, that $24 would have been worth more than $28 trillion by 1995, Manhattan could be repurchased with money left over to buy much of L.A., especially at 1995’s real estate prices.

My neighbor works for a major computer company. He has been there 25 years. In five more years he will leave the company with $4 million in his 401k retirement plan. It is invested mostly in high-growth mutual funds, which he will convert to bonds and government securities. He’ll only be 55 when he gets out, and he will have -a passive cash flow of over $300,000 a year, more than he makes from his salary. So it can be done, even if you hate losing or hate risk. But you must start early and definitely set up a retirement plan, and you should hire a financial planner you trust to guide you before investing in anything.

But what if you don’t have much time left or would like to retire early? How do you handle the fear of losing money?

My poor dad did nothing. He simply avoided the issue, refusing to discuss the subject.

My rich dad, on the other hand, recommended that I think like a Texan. “I like Texas and Texans,” he used to say. “In Texas, everything is bigger. When Texans win, they win big. And when they lose, it’s spectacular.”

“They like losing?” I asked.

“That’s not what I’m saying. Nobody likes losing. Show me a happy loser, and I’ll show you a loser,” said rich dad. “It’s a Texan’s attitude toward risk, reward and failure I’m talking about. It’s how they handle life. They live it big. Not like most of the people around here, living like roaches when it comes to money. Roaches terrified that someone will shine a light on them. Whimpering when the grocery clerk short changes them a quarter.” Rich dad went on to explain.

“What I like best is the Texas attitude. They’re proud when they win, and they brag when they lose. Texans have a saying, ”If you’re going to go broke, go big. You don’t want to admit you went broke over a duplex. Most people around here are so afraid of losing, they don’t have a duplex to go broke with.”

He constantly told Mike and me that the greatest reason for lack of financial success was because most people played it too safe. “People are so afraid of losing that they lose” were his words.

Fran Tarkenton, a one-time great NFL quarterback, says it still another way: “Winning means being unafraid to lose.” In my own life, I’ve noticed that winning usually follows losing. Before I finally learned to ride a bike, I first fell down many times. I’ve never met a golfer who has never lost a golf ball. I’ve never met people who have fallen in love who have never had their heart broken. And I’ve never met someone rich who has never lost money.

So for most people, the reason they don’t win financially is because the pain of losing money is far greater than the joy of being rich. Another saying in Texas is, “Everyone wants to go to Heaven, but no one wants to die.” Most people dream of being rich, but are terrified of losing money. So they never get to Heaven.

Rich dad used to tell Mike and me stories about his trips to Texas. “If you really want to learn the attitude of how to handle risk, losing and failure, go to San Antonio and visit the Alamo. The Alamo is a great story of brave people who chose to fight, knowing there was no hope of success against overwhelming odds. They chose to die instead of surrendering. It’s an inspiring story worthy of study; nonetheless, it’s still a tragic military defeat. They got their butts kicked. A failure if you will. They lost. So how do Texans handle failure? They still shout, ‘Remember the Alamo!’” Mike and I heard this story a lot. He always told us this story when f he was about to go into a big deal and he was nervous. After he had done all his due diligence and now it was put up or shut up, he told us this story. Every time he was afraid of making a mistake, or losing money, he told us this story. It gave him strength, for it reminded him that he could always turn a financial loss into a financial win. Rich dad I knew that failure would only make him stronger and smarter. It’s not that! he wanted to lose; he just knew who he was and how he would take a loss. He would take a loss and make it a win. That’s what made him a winner and others losers. It gave him the courage to cross the line when others backed out. “That’s why I like Texans so much. They took a great failure and turned it into a tourist destination that makes them millions.” But probably his words that mean the most to me today are these: “Texans don’t bury their failures. They get inspired by them. They take i their failures and turn them into rallying cries. Failure inspires Texans to ‘ become winners. But that formula is not just the formula for Texans. It j is the formula for all winners.” Just as I also said that falling off my bike was part of learning to ride. I remember falling off only made me more determined to learn to ride. Not less. I also said that I have never met a golfer who has never lost a ball. To be a top professional golfer, losing a ball or a tournament only inspires golfers to be better, to practice harder, to study more. That’s what makes them better. For winners, losing inspires them. For losers, losing defeats them.

Quoting John D. Rockefeller, “I always tried to turn every disaster ‘ into an opportunity.”

And being Japanese-American, I can say this. Many people say that Pearl Harbor was an American mistake. I say it was a Japanese mistake. From the movie Tora, Tora, Tom, a somber Japanese admiral says to his cheering subordinates, “I am afraid we have awakened a sleeping giant.” “Remember Pearl Harbor” became a rallying cry. It turned one of America’s greatest losses into the reason to win. This great defeat gave America strength, and America soon emerged as a world power.

Failure inspires winners. And failure defeats losers. It is the biggest secret of winners. It’s the secret that losers do not know. The greatest secret of winners is that failure inspires winning; thus, they’re not afraid of losing. Repeating Fran Tarkenton’s quote, “Winning means being unafraid to lose.” People like Fran Tarkenton are not afraid of losing because they know who they are. They hate losing, so they know that losing will only inspire them to become better. There is a big difference between hating losing and being afraid to lose. Most people are so afraid of losing money that they lose. They go broke over a duplex. Financially they play life too safe and too small. They buy big houses and big cars, but not big investments. The main reason that over 90 percent of the American public struggles financially is because they play not to lose. They don’t play to win.

They go to their financial planners or accountants or stockbrokers and buy a balanced portfolio. Most have lots of cash in CDs, low-yield bonds, mutual funds that can be traded within a mutual-fund family, and a few individual stocks. It is a safe and sensible portfolio. But it is not a winning portfolio. It is a portfolio of someone playing not to lose.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s probably a better portfolio than more than 70 percent of the population, and that’s frightening. Because a safe portfolio is a lot better than no portfolio. It’s a great portfolio for someone who loves safely. But playing it safe and going “balanced” on your investment portfolio is not the way successful investors play the game. If you have little money and you want to be rich, you must first be “focused,” not “balanced.” If you look at anyone successful, at the start they were not balanced. Balanced people go nowhere. They stay in one spot. To make progress, you must first go unbalanced. Just look at how you make progress walking.

Thomas Edison was not balanced. He was focused. Bill Gates was not balanced. He was focused. Donald Trump is focused. George Soros is focused. George Patton did not take his tanks wide. He focused them and blew through the weak spots in the German line. The French went wide with the Maginot Line, and you know what happened to them.

If you have any desire of being rich, you must focus. Put a lot of your eggs in a few baskets. Do not do what poor and middle class people do: put their few eggs in many baskets.

If you hate losing, play it safe. If losing makes you weak, play it safe. Go with balanced investments. If you’re over 25 years old and are terrified of taking risks, don’t change. Play it safe, but start early. Start accumulating your nest egg early because it will take time.

But if you have dreams of freedom-of getting out of the rat race- the first question to ask yourself is, “How do I respond to failure?” If failure inspires you to win, maybe you should go for it-but only maybe. If failure makes you weak or causes you to throw temper tantrums-like spoiled brats who call an attorney to file a lawsuit every time something does not go their way-then play it safe. Keep your daytime job. Or buy bonds or mutual funds. But remember, there is risk in those financial instruments also, even though they are safer.

I say all this, mentioning Texas and Fran Tarkenton, because stacking the asset column is easy. It’s really a low-aptitude game. It doesn’t take much education. Fifth-grade math will do. But staking the asset column ‘J is a high-attitude game. It takes guts, patience and a great attitude toward failure. Losers avoid failing. And failure turns losers into winners.’’ Just remember the Alamo.

Reason No. 2. Overcoming cynicism. “The sky is falling. The sky is falling.” Most of us know the story of “Chicken Little,” who ran around warning the barnyard of impending doom. We all know people who are that way. But we all have a “Chicken Little” inside each of us.

And as I stated earlier, the cynic is really a little chicken. We all get a little chicken when fear and doubt cloud our thoughts.

All of us have doubts. “I’m not smart.” “I’m not good enough.” “So ‘$ and so is better than me.” Or our doubts often paralyze us. We play the.“What if?” game. “What if the economy crashes right after I invest?” Or “What if I lose control and I can’t pay the money back?” “What if things don’t go as I planned?” Or we have friends or loved ones who will remind us of our shortcomings regardless of whether we ask. They often say, “What makes you think you can do that?” Or “If it’s such a good idea, how come someone else hasn’t done it?” Or “That will never work. You don’t know what you’re talking about.” These words of doubt often get so loud that we fail to act. A horrible feeling builds in our stomach. Sometimes we can’t sleep. We fail to move forward. So we stay with what is safe and opportunities pass us by. We watch life passing by as we sit immobilized with a cold knot in our body. We have all felt this at one time in our lives, some more than others.

Peter Lynch of Fidelity Magellan mutual fund fame refers to warnings about the sky falling as “noise,” and we all hear it.

“Noise” is either created inside our heads or comes from outside. Often from friends, family, co-workers and the media. Lynch recalls the time during the 1950s when the threat of nuclear war was so prevalent in the news that people began building fallout shelters and storing food and water. If they had invested that money wisely in the market, instead of building a fallout shelter, they’d probably be financially independent today.

When the riots broke out in Los Angeles a few years ago, gun sales went up all over the country. A person dies from rare hamburger meat in Washington State and the Arizona Health Department orders restaurants to have all beef cooked well-done. A drug company runs a national TV commercial showing people catching the flu. The ad runs in February. Colds go up as well as sales of their cold medicine.

Most people are poor because when it comes to investing, the world is filled with Chicken Littles running around yelling, “The sky is falling. The sky is falling.” And Chicken Littles are effective because everyone of us is a little chicken. It often takes great courage to not let rumors and talk of doom and gloom affect your doubts and fears.

In 1992, a friend named Richard came from Boston to visit my wife and me in Phoenix. He was impressed with what we had done through stocks and real estate. The prices of real estate in Phoenix were depressed. We spent two days with him showing him what we thought were excellent opportunities for cash flow and capital appreciation.

My wife and I are not real estate agents. We are strictly investors. After identifying a unit in a resort community, we called an agent who sold it to him that afternoon. The price was a mere $42,000 for a two-bedroom townhome. Similar units were going for $65,000. He had found a bargain. Excited, he bought it and returned to Boston.

Two weeks later, the agent called to say that our friend had backed out. I called immediately to find out why. All he said was that he talked to his neighbor, and his neighbor told him it was a bad deal. He was paying too much.

I asked Richard if his neighbor was an investor. Richard said “no.” When I asked why he listened to him, Richard got defensive and simply said he wanted to keep looking.

The real estate market in Phoenix turned, and by 1994, that little unit was renting for $1,000 a month-$2,500 in the peak winter months. The unit was worth $95,000 in 1995. All Richard had to put down was $5,000 and he would have had a start at getting out of the rat race. Today, he still has done nothing. And the bargains in Phoenix are still here; you just have to look a lot harder.

Richard’s backing out did not surprise me. It’s called “buyer’s remorse,” and it affects all of us. It’s those doubts that get us. The little 1 chicken won, and a chance at freedom was lost.

In another example, I hold a small portion of my assets in tax lien certificates instead of CDs. I earn 16 percent per year on my money, which certainly beats the 5 percent the bank offers. The certificates are secured by real estate and enforced by state law, which is also better than most banks. The formula they’re bought on makes them safe. They just lack liquidity. So I look at them as 2 to 7-year CDs. Almost every time I tell someone, especially if they have money in CDs, that I hold my money this way, they will tell me it’s risky. They tell me why I should not do it. When I ask them where they get their information, they say from a friend or an investment magazine. They’ve never done it, and they’re telling someone who’s doing it why they shouldn’t. The lowest I yield I look for is 16 percent, but people who are filled with doubt are willing to accept 5 percent. Doubt is expensive.

My point is that it’s those doubts and cynicism that keep most people? poor and playing it safe. The real world is simply waiting for you to get rich.

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