If you’re trying to build wealth in life, being able to make money just isn’t enough.
You’ve probably heard the horror stories before.
People come up from nothing, make really good money, and then lose it all as quickly (or quicker) than they made it in the first place.
That happens because of a lack of personal finance education and making the right decisions once they’ve actually earned the money.
To keep that from happening to you, reading personal finance and personal development books is one of the best things you can do for yourself.
At the top of the list of “must read” personal finance books is Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad, Poor Dad. By the time you’re done reading it, you’re never going to look at money the same way again.
In it, Kiyosaki relays stories and perspectives that he received from growing up in a divorced household and being taught lessons by both his working-class father and his wealthy stepfather.
We’re going to break down 10 of (what we think) are the best lessons you can take from the book.
And while the lessons below can give you a head start, we highly recommend grabbing a copy and reading through it at least a few times.
#1 – Money Is A Tool
“So many people say, ‘Oh, I’m not interested in money.’ Yet they’ll work at a job for eight hours a day.”
Unfortunately, in today’s society, most people are only working so they can get by.
They never actually get ahead in life and, if they do manage to build a financial cushion, they’re usually one emergency away from losing it all and having to start over again.
This happens because they view money as the means to an end. Money, to them, is a way to buy them comfortability and give them the chance to relax.
Wealthy people look at money completely differently, though.
Wealthy people make their money work for them. They buy income-generating assets so that their money can work harder for them than they work for it.
They also know that the personal finance game isn’t about how much money you make, it’s about how much money you keep — and how much what you keep grows year over year.
So if you’re looking at money as a way to buy things, like cars, clothes, dining out, entertainment, etc, you’re not looking at it as a tool that can buy you more money. Instead, you’re looking at it as a way to buy liabilities that will slow down how quickly you can build real wealth.
While you’re learning personal finance, hold onto as much money as you can. Then, as you learn how to buy assets that will create more income for you, you’ll have cash readily available to help buy them.
#2 – Never Stop Learning
“Don’t be addicted to money. Work to learn, don’t work for money. Work for knowledge.”
In the book, Kiyosaki talks about money not being your greatest asset. Instead, he focuses on your mind being the greatest asset that you’ll ever possess.
That means you are never going to be in a position where you can stop learning or stop growing.
If you are flexible and open-minded, always learning about how to make more money, be more efficient, conserve your wealth, and perform at a higher level than you did yesterday, you can create the environment where you get richer.
One of the best areas where you can focus your energy is on learning about money. How it’s used, how people make it, how people lose it, and the attitudes that wealthy people cultivate for themselves.
Because you can be extremely proficient at what you do, get raises in your job, experience financial windfalls throughout your life, but if you aren’t learning about money, you’ll lose it as quickly as it came.
The biggest cause of problems for people who experience financial hardships is simply not understanding how money truly works.
So just like you learned how to be proficient in your job or career, becoming just as proficient in how you handle money is equally as important — if not more important.
#3 – Liabilities Will Slow You Down
“Rich people acquire assets. The poor and middle class acquire liabilities that they think are assets.”
Liabilities are things that cost you money. They depreciate in value.
Think about things like cars, clothes, entertainment, dining out. All things that consumers love to spend their money on that doesn’t actually give them a financial return.
Assets, on the other hand, grow in value. They know that if they buy the right assets, the income generated from those purchases will help fund the liabilities that they want to purchase.
This keeps them from ever having to tap into the financial foundation they’ve worked so hard to create.
All the luxuries in the world may feel good right after you purchase them but if you ever encounter a financial hardship the first thing you’ll be selling off are those luxuries.
When that happens, you’re not only starting back from square one, you’re starting from behind because of the depreciation you experienced by purchasing those luxuries in the first place, on top of having to rebuild the foundation you already had in place.
One of the things he talks about in the book, to great length, is “delayed gratification”. Put off purchasing those luxuries and liabilities with the mindset being that you can purchase them when you’re actually able to afford them — when your assets can fund them while still growing your financial foundation.
#4 – Don’t Let Emotion Get In The Way
“To be a successful business owner and investor, you have to be emotionally neutral to winning and losing. Winning and losing are just a part of the game.”
When it comes to money, it feels no emotion.
As humans, though, emotion can quickly cloud our judgment, leading us to make really, really bad decisions around how we handle money.
Fear is a big one when it comes to building wealth, too.
Many people stay trapped by fear, working hard, making money, working harder, making more money.
But they’re always afraid of risking that money in order to climb one step higher on the ladder of life, so they hold onto the money they’ve earned as tightly as they can.
Wealthy people have developed the ability to push that fear aside and make logical decisions about how they intend to use their money.
They build strategic plans and understand exactly what the money they spend is going to buy them.
This gives them the ability to make quick decisions while limiting their risk and eliminating the fear and greed emotions that cloud so many people’s vision.
To them, money is a tool, like a shovel. They’re emotionally indifferent to the shovel and the only thing they think about is the hole that the shovel can help them dig. They view money the same way.
#5 – Acquire Skills First, Then Money
“Skills make you rich. Not theories.”
Skills pay the bills.
When you keep developing your skills, especially around things like investing, accounting, sales, leadership, marketing, speaking, writing, negotiating, etc, you set yourself up to make more of what you actually want… money.
In his book, he actually suggests that you learn a little about a lot.
You focus your energy on learning just enough about everything we just mentioned so that you’re capable enough to talk to the people who are professionals and have devoted their entire lives to each of those areas.
You don’t necessarily have to be the best at any of them. But being proficient in each, and every one of them will help take you further, faster, while you’re trying to build wealth.
These are the types of skills that you can’t learn in school, either. You learn them by staying curious, by reading, by being around people who have already mastered them.
Because success leaves clues and as you get further on into your journey to build wealth you’ll realize that smart people love sharing what they know. As long as you’re curious and open to learning from them, you’ll acquire the money that comes with acquiring those skills, first.
#6 – Failure Is The Difference Maker
“Success is a poor teacher. We learn the most about ourselves when we fail, so don’t be afraid of failing. Failing is part of the process of success. You cannot have success without failure.”
If there’s one thing poor people have in common, it’s being afraid to take risks and possibly fail.
Rich and wealthy people, though, know that taking risks and failing is just a natural part of the process.
It separates the winners from the losers in life.
Now, this doesn’t mean that rich people are immune to losing or failing.
It means they’re not afraid to take the chance once they’ve understood the risk involved and did whatever they could to stack the game in their favor.
Because both rich people and poor people will lose money. The difference, though, is what they’re doing when they lose it.
Rich and wealthy people lose money by taking risks where the upside potential is greater than the potential for loss. Poor people, though, lose it by trying to hold onto their money too tightly.
Playing the game not to lose, the way poor people play it, means that you’re never actually going to be able to win in the game of money.
#7 – Learn How To Manage Your Risk
“In today’s rapidly changing world, the people who are not taking risks are the risk takers.”
Poor people tend to view investing as risky.
But, as Kiyosaki says in his book, investing isn’t actually the risky part. Not understanding the investment is where the risk comes into the picture.
Which leads us back to lesson #2 — never stop learning.
If you’re going to use your money as a tool, you need to make sure you understand each investment you intend to make with it.
Look at your money like an ax and think about a quote from President Abraham Lincoln, which said “If you give me 8 hours to chop down a tree, I’ll spend 6 hours sharpening my ax, and 2 hours cutting it down.”
If you’re looking at making an investment, spend more time ensuring you completely understand the investment before you actually make it. Not only will you be more confident when you move forward, but you’ll know the odds are stacked in your favor — limiting your overall risk going into it.
#8 – Start A Business That Solves A Problem
“Job is an acronym for “Just Over Broke”.
If you’re currently in a job or pursuing a career, keep your job and keep pursuing your career.
However, start a business on the side and devote some of your time and energy to it.
Build the business around solving a problem that people are willing to pay for.
Then, as you’re advancing in your career, receiving pay raises, experiencing financial windfalls, pour that money back into your business so it grows even faster.
Then, when your business reaches the point that it makes more than your salary, start putting foundations in place to support you being able to leave your job.
But don’t leave your job until your business has gotten to that point.
Before you leave it, you want to make sure you have at least 12 months of living expenses in an emergency fund and business revenue that is either trending upwards or has stayed consistently higher than your salary for at least 6 months.
If you follow those two rules, making the transition out of your job will be significantly easier and give you more time to focus on growing the business — so you can grow your wealth.
#9 – Understand Your Reason “Why”
“As I said, I wish I could say it was easy. It wasn’t, but it wasn’t hard either. But without a strong reason or purpose, anything in life is hard.”
Simply “wanting more money” or “wanting a better lifestyle” isn’t enough to become wealthy.
If you want real wealth in life, you need to spend time thinking about what the money you’re earning is actually going to buy you.
What does that “better lifestyle” actually look like? How are you spending your days when you get it?
How will you know when you’ve actually gotten it?
Why do you “want more money”?
On your journey to building wealth, there’s going to be times when you get discouraged and want to just throw in the towel, get a job, and accept being comfortable.
It’s during those times that understanding WHY you’re doing what you’re doing will carry you through.
Knowing why you’re trying to achieve more helps give you energy when you’re just not feeling like pushing forward. It will carry you through the dark days when you feel like nothing is going your way.
Spend time getting crystal clear on why you want to be wealthy. Write down all the ways you’re going to be spending your days when you become wealthy.
If you skip this step, it’s going to be really hard to stay focused on what you truly want from life.
#10 – Always Get Paid First
“The philosophy of the rich and the poor is this: the rich invest their money and spend what is left. The poor spend their money and invest what is left.”
Warren Buffet said it best when he said, “Spend what is left after you’ve saved.”
Kiyosaki talks about it quite a bit in the book, but the lesson behind that quote is: always pay yourself before you pay anyone else.
Most people have this backwards and save what is left after spending on things like bills, luxuries, and entertainment. That’s what helps keep them poor.
Wealthy people, though, shrink their lifestyle to meet their income levels.
If you’re building wealth in life, save anywhere from 10% to 20% of what you make BEFORE you start paying bills, buying luxuries, or spending on entertainment.
This helps you get a better idea of the lifestyle you can actually afford — and creates a scenario where if you want more you know you have to earn more.
Personal development and personal finance isn’t something you ever stop learning. You never get to a point where “enough is enough”.
That means you’ll always want to stay curious about how you can build more wealth and do it more efficiently than you are right now.
Robert Kiyosaki’s book, Rich Dad Poor Dad is an excellent guide to help you get started down the path of building wealth. We recommend reading it at least a few times and picking it up at least once a year as you become more familiar with the concepts he teaches inside of it.