Before we really get going with this blogening, allow me to admit I have a bit of a soft spot for Rich Dad Poor Dad, the controversial book by noted shill Robert T. Kiyosaki. The T stands for Takin’ Your Money, probably.

The first personal finance book I ever read was The Wealthy Barber. The second was Rich Dad Poor Dad, and it was all the motivation I needed. I was going to open my own business and make something of myself, dammit.

Kiyosaki lays it all out there in black and white. The book is filled with invaluable lessons about the basics of ownership, the benefits of working for yourself versus slaving away for (dun dun dun) THE MAN, how the rich buy assets while the poor just waste their money on crap, and so on.

This is pretty basic stuff for me in 2017, but in 1999 I drank all this stuff up. I didn’t really understand it, but I LURVED it.

The problem with Rich Dad Poor Dad

The plot of the book is simple. Kiyosaki has two dads. One is his actual dad while the other is his friend’s dad. The friend’s dad is super successful even though he dropped out of high school, while his real dad struggles despite going to a good university and having a prestigious government job. Rich dad ends up teaching Robert how to become rich. Robert retires young and then writes this book to help out the kids.

There’s just one problem. We’re pretty sure large parts of that story were made up.

Kiyosaki describes his rich dad having a large array of assets in his native Hawaii, owning everything from fancy Waikiki Beach real estate to a fleet of convenience stores. People actually researched it and couldn’t find anyone who fit the description. Kiyosaki has also strongly hinted Rich Dad was a composite character based on a few different people.

Kiyosaki also advocates some unethical stuff in the book, including weaseling out of contracts by putting in clauses that say “subject to partner approval” and to trade stocks on non-public information. He also recommends deducting vacations from your taxes because you were there to look at real estate.

I know somebody in real life who actually does the last thing, btw. It scares the bejesus out of me and I don’t even do it. Don’t do tax fraud, kids.

My favorite part is when Kiyosaki claims his net worth is between $50 and $100 million, “depending on the day.” Because hey, doesn’t everyone’s net worth fluctuate 50% a day?

And then there’s the Rich Dad Academy, where a high-pressure salesperson will teach you everything there is to know about real estate for the low, low price of a couple thousand bucks. The internet is filled with horror stories about Rich Dad education ripping off unsuspecting suckers faster than Scientologists.

OH GOD I’M SORRY PLEASE DON’T SEND LEAH REMINI AFTER ME.

Why it’s still a good book

Back in 2005, Yahoo asked Kiyosaki and a bunch of other experts to pen personal finance articles. I remember reading some of his and they were terrible. They advocated buying gold and avoiding stocks and other questionable things. I’ve also heard his additional books are hot garbage.

But if I was recommending a book for somebody who wants to start their own business or who wanted to get started buying rental property, I’d recommend Rich Dad Poor Dad in a heartbeat.

The average personal finance book teaches somebody how to save and to pick ETFs over mutual funds. It’s the safe way to get rich.

Rich Dad Poor Dad is different. First of all, it’s inspirational as all hell. The story might be made up, but it’s still good. And the lessons presented within are timeless.

I’ve talked to dozens of people over the years who told me how it was Rich Dad Poor Dad that started them on the path of thinking like an investor and not like a consumer. Successful people, too. It’s amazing how many real estate investors love the guy.

The bottom line

Yeah, there are parts of the book that suck, and you can certainly call Kiyosaki’s morals into question once you know about Rich Dad Academy. But there’s a reason why it’s the number one selling personal finance book of all freakin’ time. There’s some good stuff in it.

It’s silly to read something like Rich Dad Poor Dad and proclaim yourself an expert. But something has to get that journey started, and this book has been the kick in the ass millions needed to get started. Maybe we should remember it that way, rather than focusing on the stuff that’s wrong with it.

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