At the age of 9, I decided to listen to and learn from my rich dad about money. In doing so, I chose not to listen to my poor dad, even though he was the one with all the college degrees.
A Lesson From Robert Frost
Robert Frost is my favourite poet. Although I love many of his poems, my favorite is The Road Not Taken. I use its lesson almost daily:
The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveler, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair, And having perhaps the better claim, Because it was grassy and wanted wear Though as for that the passing there Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay In leaves no step had trodden black. Oh, I kept the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads onto way, I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence; Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.
And that made all the difference.
Over the years, I have often reflected upon Robert Frost's poem. Choosing not to listen to my highly educated dad's advice and attitude about money was a painful decision, but it was a decision that shaped the rest of my life.
Once I made up my mind whom to listen to, my education about money began. My rich dad taught me over a period of 30 years, until I was age 39. He stopped once he realized that I knew and fully understood what he had been trying to drum into my often thick skull.
Money is one form of power. But what is more powerful is financial education. Money comes and goes, but if you have the education about how money works, you gain power over it and can begin building wealth. The reason positive thinking alone does not work is because most people went to school and never learned how money works, so they spend their lives working for money.
Because I was only 9 years old when I started, the lessons my rich dad taught me were simple. And when it was all said and done, there were only six main lessons, repeated over 30 years. This book is about those six lessons, put as simply as possible as my rich dad put forth those lessons to me. The lessons are not meant to be answers but guideposts. Guideposts that will assist you and your children to grow wealthier no matter what happens in a world of increasing change and uncertainty.
Lesson #1 The Rich Don't Work for Money
Lesson #2 Why Teach Financial Literacy?
Lesson #3 Mind Your own Business
Lesson #4 The History of Taxes and the Power of Corporations
Lesson #5 The Rich Invent Money
Lesson #6 Work to Learn Don't Work for Money
Lesson One: The Rich Don't Work For Money
"Dad, Can You Tell Me How to Get Rich?"
My dad put down the evening paper. "Why do you want to get rich, son?"
"Because today Jimmy's mom drove up in their new Cadillac, and they were going to their beach house for the weekend. He took three of his friends, but Mike and I weren't invited. They told us we weren't invited because we were `poor kids'."
"They did?" my dad asked incredulously.
"Yeah, they did." I replied in a hurt tone.
My dad silently shook his head, pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose and went back to reading the paper. I stood waiting for an answer.
The year was 1956. I was 9 years old. By some twist of fate, I attended the same public school where the rich people sent their kids. We were primarily a sugar plantation town. The managers of the plantation and the other affluent people of the town, such as doctors, business owners, and bankers, sent their children to this school, grades 1 to 6. After grade 6, their children were generally sent off to private schools. Because my family lived on one side of the street, I went to this school. Had I lived on the other side of the street, I would have gone to a different school, with kids from families more like mine. After grade 6,these kids and I would go on to the public intermediate and high school. There was no private school for them or for me.
My dad finally put down the paper. I could tell he was thinking.
"Well, son," he began slowly. "If you want to be rich, you have to learn to make money."
"How do I make money?" I asked.
"Well, use your head, son," he said, smiling. Which really meant, "That's all I'm going to tell you," or "I don't know the answer, so don't embarrass me."
A Partnership Is Formed
The next morning, I told my best friend, Mike, what my dad had said. As best I could tell, Mike and I were the only poor kids in this school. Mike was like me in that he was in this school by a twist of fate. Someone had drawn a jog in the line for the school district, and we wound up in school with the rich kids. We weren't really poor, but we felt as if we were because all the other boys had new baseball gloves, ,,,y
new bicycles, new everything.
Mom and dad provided us with the basics, like food, shelter, clothes. :, But that was about it. My dad used to say, "If you want something, work for it." We wanted things, but there was not much work available for 9- , year-old boys.
"So what do we do to make money?" Mike asked.
"I don't know," I said. "But do you want to be my partner?"
He agreed and so on that Saturday morning, Mike became my first business partner. We spent all morning coming up with ideas on how to 1'make money. Occasionally we talked about all the "cool guys" at Jimmy's beach house having fun. It hurt a little, but that hurt was good, for it inspired us to keep thinking of a way to make money. Finally, that afternoon, a bolt of lightning came through our heads. It was an idea Mike had gotten from a science book he had read. Excitedly, we shook hands, and the partnership now had a business.
For the next several weeks, Mike and I ran around our neighborhood, knocking on doors and asking our neighbors if they would save their toothpaste tubes for us. With puzzled looks, most adults consented with a smile. Some asked us what we were doing. To which we replied, "We can't tell you. It's a business secret."
My mom grew distressed as the weeks wore on. We had selected a
site next to her washing machine as the place we would stockpile our raw materials. In a brown cardboard box that one time held catsup bottles, our little pile of used toothpaste tubes began to grow.
Finally my mom put her foot down. The sight of her neighbors' , messy, crumpled used toothpaste tubes had gotten to her. "What are you boys doing?" she asked. "And I don't want to hear again that it's a business secret. Do something with this mess or I'm going to throw it out."
Mike and I pleaded and begged, explaining that we would soon have enough and then we would begin production. We informed her that we were waiting on a couple of neighbors to finish using up their toothpaste so we could have their tubes. Mom granted us a one-week extension.
The date to begin production was moved up. The pressure was on. My first partnership was already being threatened with an eviction notice from our warehouse space by my own mom. It became Mike's job to tell the neighbors to quickly use up their toothpaste, saying their dentist wanted them to brush more often anyway. I began to put together the production line.