Best known as the author of “Rich Dad Poor Dad” — the No. 1 personal finance book of all time — Robert Kiyosaki has challenged and changed the way millions of people around the world think about money. He is an entrepreneur, educator and investor who believes the world needs more entrepreneurs. With perspectives on money and investing that often contradict conventional wisdom, Kiyosaki has earned an international reputation for straight talk, irreverence and courage, and has become a passionate and outspoken advocate for financial education. Kiyosaki is also the author of “Who Stole My Pension?” (co-authored with former SEC attorney and pension-fraud whistleblower Edward Siedle) and “FAKE: Fake Money, Fake Teachers, Fake Assets.”
Recognized by GOBankingRates as one of Money’s Most Influential, here he shares the importance of educating yourself about finances, why he never says “I can’t afford it” and explains the noteworthy difference between “good” debt and “bad” debt.
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What advice would you give your younger self about money?
Choose your teachers wisely. The most important piece of real estate we own is the six inches between our left ear and our right ear. I’d have told my younger self to be very careful about what ideas get planted in that piece of real estate.
What is the best thing you did to improve your own financial wellness?
For years, I attended investment seminars on a quarterly basis. Today I attend seminars daily on YouTube. Today I can access the best teachers on my schedule — and they teach for free.
What are some easy strategies or tools people can use to make sure they are thinking about their money smartly?
I forbid myself from saying, “I can’t afford it.” I have disciplined myself to ask instead, “How can I afford it?” Asking myself how I can afford something opens and challenges my mind — to think. The words we say to ourselves and the words we believe are the most powerful forces in the world. In my experience saying, “I can’t afford it” is what poor people say. That is why they are poor. There is a difference, I’ve found, between “broke” and “poor.” Poor is a state of mind that we all have the power to change.
What is the biggest mistake people make when it comes to managing debt?
Without financial education, most people don’t realize that there are two kinds of debt — good debt and bad debt. Good debt makes me rich and bad debt makes me poor. One skill set every investor must have is the ability to both understand debt and how to use debt to make them richer, not poorer. The average American is loaded with bad debt. That is the price of not protecting those six inches of real estate between your left ear and your right ear. Look for and take advantage of opportunities to get smarter about money…and how to use good debt.
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Jaime Catmull contributed to the reporting for this article.