Title: "Unfair Advantage: The Power of Financial Education — What Schools Will Never Teach You About Money"
Author: Robert T. Kiyosaki
Publisher: Plata Publishing, 2011; 176 pages; $8.90 at amazon.com
Robert Kiyosaki is perhaps still best known as the author of the "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" series of books, which almost 15 years ago began indoctrinating the world on his then-unconventional wealth-building strategies.
The books emphasize the use of leverage (debt) to build real estate investment portfolios and businesses, and largely eschew stock market investments, savings accounts and conventional "get a good job" wisdom.
Kiyosaki raised more than a few eyebrows when he declared that your personal residence was a liability because it was cash-flow negative. Then the market meltdown proved his point.
Less well-known are Kiyosaki’s insistence that his adherents manage their spending, consumer debt and taxes wisely — sage advice Suze Orman would likely agree with, despite the public spat between Orman and Kiyosaki in the wake of the real estate market crash.
But I digress.
Over the years, Kiyosaki’s writings have evolved into a full-fledged financial education empire. He continues to contrast how the rich use their knowledge with what poor but well-intentioned folks do. Kiyosaki’s declared mission is to be a modern-day Robin Hood, empowering the poor with knowledge he’s gleaned from the wealthy.
Continuing in that vein is his latest book, "Unfair Advantage: The Power of Financial Education — What Schools Will Never Teach You About Money."
1. Serious investors do more than "buy low, sell high."
Kiyosaki argues that only amateur investors believe that buying low and selling high are all it takes to make a smart investment decision. In fact, capital gains — the profits on an investment — are taxed. Being obsessed with straight profits is what lured many to take subprime mortgages in their belief they were making a solid bet that the real estate market would only ever go up.
Kiyosaki says serious investors do take the ability to buy low and sell high into account, but also prioritize businesses and investments that will generate positive cash flow over the long term, beyond just the value of the hours the owner puts in, and have favorable tax advantages.
2. Financial education compounds, just like interest.
Kiyosaki says that just as dogs are merely trained to do tricks on cue, some people receive only financial training, not a financial education.
Kiyosaki says financial training includes those core messages we’ve all heard like go to school, get a job, and send someone else your money to invest. Financial education, on the other hand, includes the deep understanding of things like financial history, basic definitions, tax rules and debt. Only those with such an education are able to "take information and process it into knowledge," he said.
Just sending your money to someone else to invest is a risky and unprofitable strategy, Kiyosaki said. He argues that over time, a commitment to get and stay financially educated will result in greater and greater wealth, similar to the exponential growth of compounding interest with which we’re all familiar.
3. Investing is a game.
Kiyosaki says many of the "Rich Dad" insights draw on lessons he learned playing the board game Monopoly. If you buy and own four small green houses, for instance, you can parlay that into one much more lucrative hotel.
One of the cornerstones of Kiyosaki’s own educational empire was another board game, the Cashflow Quadrant, around which whole communities of students have grown worldwide. If the process of memorizing a bunch of definitions turns you off, check out your local craigslist to find some folks playing financial board games. Many a player swears they have changed their lives.
Throughout "Unfair Advantage," Kiyosaki attempts to actually provide much of the financial education he thinks Americans need to move out of financial dependency and underachievement and into the ranks of the business owners and big-picture investors who pay lower tax rates and earn more while working less.
The book is chock-full of easy-to-digest educational tidbits readers of other "Rich Dad" books will recognize, like FAQs, pithy (if slightly hyperbolic) definitions and diagrams. Nothing about "Unfair Advantage" is rocket science, but it — like the rest of the "Rich Dad" series — will undoubtedly serve as an inspiration or reboot to many readers’ efforts to take control of their money matters.