Book Review, Rich Dad, Poor Dad
Title: Rich Dad Poor Dad
Author: Robert T. Kiyosaki
Publisher: Plata Publishing, LLC
Copyright date: 2011 (first printing 1997)
Find it at your local library: WorldCat
Authors’ keys to building wealth: Make money work for you
Best for those who: (this title is not recommended)
Overall: 1 out of 5
Review: This title is beloved by many across the globe. Thousands of smart people credit it with helping them in their business or life. The allegorical prose and simple writing style make it easy to understand why it is so influencial. If it helped you build your business or learn personal finance in a way that other titles were unable to, please let me know what this book did that was different for you in the comments.
There were many the things I liked about the book. Of the 82% of the book which wasn’t an advertisement for other books or products of his, perhaps 10% gave solid advice. Here is my comprehensive list of useful take-aways from this book.
how desire and fear make people stay in jobs instead of striking out for themselves
how more money doesn’t solve problems (and above a certain economic point, this is 100% true)
the importance of tracking cash flow for becoming financially secure
that people should reflect and question whether their actions make sense
how the rich don’t rely on a paycheck for their money, rather they have income generating assets which they use to make money to buy more income generating assets
how people with little money buy luxury items to look rich, which is self-defeating
that failure happens and it’s important to learn and try again, not give up
that you get money by what you know and lose money by what you don’t know
how you need a strong reason for pursuing your dream, otherwise you will fail
My professional opinion is that readers should spend their time and money on other titles. The book has far too many glaring inaccuracies, redundant themes, conflicting advice, incorrect blanket statements, redundant themes, immoral recommendations, lack of references, and redundant themes to be worth your while – especially if you don’t have experience with this subject. Did I mention how redundant this book is? Let’s continue.
The lack of references begins before you even open the book. There is a faux gold award label that touts the book as the “#1 Personal Finance Book of All Time.” I have been unable to find the metric they are using or the conferring authoritative body which allows the publisher to make this claim. The back cover, where you normally find a summary, list of accolades, and quotes from other prominent people about how great the book is, instead has the same image of the author as on the front, a five point list for what you will learn, a larger and brighter paragraph about how great the author is, an excerpt from the book, another mention of it being the “#1 Personal Finance book of All Time” and finally, a blurb from USA Today that says this book “is a starting point for anyone looking to gain control of their financial future.” Not exactly enthusiastic so much as a summation of the contents. It reminds me of the TV show “30 Rock” when Liz wrote a book and put Jack’s blurb on the back, “Lemon [Liz] numbers among my employees.”
Kiyosaki opens with a comparison of his two “dads,” the biological one and the one that is rich. The entire premise of the book – a comparison of his two dads – is most likely completely false and that he pretends otherwise is disingenuous. Of these fake fathers, one has a PhD, the other never finished 8th grade. Spoiler alert: it is not the PhD who is rich. He belittles his biological father for working because his father loves it and finds it personally rewarding. His disdain for educators/education in general is pervasive; all the while telling the reader how much he loves and values education, lest we get the wrong idea. Was that confusing for you to read? I spent 178 pages trying to square that circle. The twin themes of loving and denigrating education sound over and over again throughout the work, never increasing the clarity of the author’s intentions. What I did take away was his lack of respect for people who love their job, despite low pay, and want to make the world a better place.
The inaccuracies sewed throughout show a lack of editing or attention to quality of the content. If you were coming to this book with no understanding of business or personal finance, and followed its teachings, you could go to jail. He insists you can write off vacations (p. 89), criminally delay payments to creditors or the IRS (p. 157), and even list your own cat as a business partner (p. 169). As bad as all these are, what really dumbfounded me was a misquoted saying that he builds an argument on. This is an editor’s low-hanging fruit. Even the greenest of editors should have corrected this. When something this obvious isn’t caught, it makes me wonder what else got through.
This quote is on page 52 – “A fool and his money is one big party.” But this isn’t an American or even English saying. The very well known saying he probably meant is “A fool and his money are soon parted.” I gave Kiyosaki the benefit of the doubt as sayings evolve across distance and time, and turned to Google’s autofill function to see if this is a common alternate version. It’s not the most scientific of methods, but it does tell you what the rest of the googling universe thinks of this saying:
It does not appear to be an alternate version. Further research shows his version to be an African saying. If he knew both sayings and was choosing to use the obscure one, all he had to do was mention it is an African saying. Since he did not introduce it as such and this is not the only occurrence of misinformation in the book, I am left to assume he is mistaken.
Here are some other inaccuracies, absolutely brimming over with wrongability. This is not a comprehensive list: there is a story about a 1923 meeting in Chicago that never happened (p. 42), he claims the word “emotion” stands for ‘energy in motion’ (p. 32), he claims the American school system was created in the Agrarian Age (p. 43), he has a balance sheet that does not include owner’s equity (p. 47, and every other balance sheet in the book), and he states that “originally, in England and America, there were no taxes” (p. 80) - - does he mean in the Americas before Europeans came? Because the Aztec government took its share through taxation and tribute. Or does he mean just in the USA after the American revolution was famously kicked off due to taxation on tea? Does he mean in England before William the Conqueror? Or before the Saxons? Or during the Roman period? England has been inhabited for a really, really, really long time, to say “originally” you literally have to go back 800,000 years and I bet the proto-humans still had to pay tribute to their leaders.
On top of the these are his unsupported blanket statements such as “the main cause of poverty or financial struggle is fear and ignorance” (p. 33), “History proves that great civilizations collapse when the gap between the haves and have-nots is too great” (p. 36), and “poor people simply have poor spending habits” (p. 147). If you are building an argument from such a statement, you need to back them up with supporting evidence. If you do not, you leave gaping holes in your unpersuasive argument.
To sum up, he supports the gold standard (p. 38), calls Robin Hood a crook (p. 79), makes incorrect statements, doesn’t understand accounting (p. 47-51), encourages lying to business partners for your own gain (p. 39-40, 169), and advocates joining a multi-level marketing scheme (p. 122).
With so much untrustworthy and dubious information inside and given all the quality books out there on business and personal finance, I see no reason to spend your time sifting through this one.