The Most Important Theme of ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad”

Rich Dad, Poor Dad revolves around three main characters: poor dad, rich dad (Robert T. Kiyosaki’s second father) and the son (the author himself as narrator of the book). The essence of each character is:

  • Poor dad – educated but lacking the street smarts
  • Rich dad – very little education (eighth grade), tons of street smarts
  • Kiyosaki – the spectator who learns lessons from both but internalizes only rich dad’s traits

The story of Robert Kiyosaki and Mike starts in 1956 Hawaii, when both boys were a nine years old. Their first get-rich scheme was a counterfeit nickel making company. They made plaster molds of the nickels and melted lead toothpaste tubes and filled the molds to produce the nickels. Their plan was foiled by Mike’s father, who informed the boys of their illegal activity.

After that day, the boys dedicated their free time to leaning about finance and economics from Mike’s father, the rich dad. The first lesson Mike’s dad made the boys experience was hatred of the “Rat Race”. He was able to achieve this by making the boys work in one of his grocery stores for three hours for ten cents an hour pay. Within a few weeks, Kiyosaki, tired of being exploited for labor, demanded that he receive a raise, but instead, Mike’s father cut his pay and told him to work for free.

Eventually, both boys tired of being under appreciated (and unpaid) and they met individually with Mike’s father. In their meetings with rich dad, he apologized for lack of pay and he offered them either the moral of the lesson or a pay raise. Both boys chose to learn the moral of the lesson, while rich dad offered them pay raises. He started at twenty-five cents, a dollar, two dollars, and even five dollars, which would have been considered a large amount of money for an hourly wage, but the boys still remained strong with their decision to learn the moral of the lesson.

The lesson to get out of the “Rat Race” and instead of spending your whole life working to put a little money in your pocket and a bunch of money in someone else’s pocket, have people work hard to put money in your pocket. Out of all the lessons that were taught to the boys, this one was the most important.

Poor Dad

The author compares his poor dad to the millions of fathers who encourage their sons to do well in school so they could get a good job with a good company. Poor dad believed in the traditional principles of working hard, saving money, and not buying material things that one cannot afford. He believed that having a good job with a solid company is what one should aspire for; hence he expresses disappointment when his son leaves the employ of a large, reputable corporation.

Poor dad looks to education as the passport to success. He held a doctorate degree, went to Ivy League universities, but was always struggling financially. He believed he would never be a rich man and the author points out that this became a self-fulfilling prophecy. Poor dad was more interested in a good education than the subject of money. The author wrote that his poor dad would always say things like, “I’m not interested in money” or “money doesn’t matter.”

The author points out that poor dad was preoccupied with things like job tenure and security, Social Security, vacation and sick leaves, company insurance and salary raises and promotions. The author felt that his poor dad was more interested in these factors rather than on the job itself. This is what the author calls being trapped in the Rat Race.

His poor dad worked hard incessantly but somehow never made it ahead financially. Poor dad’s approach to the subject of money was based on working hard to have enough money to pay the bills (in contrast to rich dad’s approach to make one’s money work for him).

Rich Dad

The author wrote that it was when he was nine years old that he started realizing that his rich dad made much more sense than his poor dad. It was from rich dad that the author learned not to say, “I can’t afford it”, but instead to ask, “how can I afford it?” He explains this principle by relating an incident when he and his best friend Mike went to work for Mike’s father. Rich dad paid them very low wages deliberately so that would stir anger and a sense of injustice in them and eventually for them to realize that in order to get ahead, one must work for himself and not for others.

For example, in that part of the book when the author complains to rich dad that he can hardly afford to buy anything with the wages he is paid, rich dad tells him that he shouldn’t dwell on the fact that his wages are low, but instead ask “how can I make more money” because this stimulates the brain to take action. His rich dad says that when someone says, “I can’t afford it”, his brain stops working. It therefore kills initiative and promotes passivity.

The author adds that while his poor dad invested time and effort in education, he did not have any knowledge on investing. His rich dad, by contrast, was very skilled in the investment game because that’s all he did. The attitude of his rich dad about money was manifested in the saying “the lack of money is the root of all evil” (his poor dad, on the other hand, believed that the love of money is the root of all evil).

According to the author, rich dad also nurtured the idea that taxes punished producers and rewarded the non-producers. He was the type who encouraged money talk at the dinner table and was portrayed by the author as someone who learned to manage risk, instead of not taking risks.

The Son (Robert T. Kiyosaki)

The author takes a common sense approach to the subject of money and emphasizes the need for accounting knowledge so that the reader clearly understands what assets and liabilities are. He makes simple diagrams that show the inflow and outflow of money and how the rich build up the asset column and the poor build up the liability column (expenses). It is obvious that the author places much importance on accounting knowledge – no matter how boring it is – because he says it is “the most important subject in your life.”

By using numerous examples and anecdotes, the author drives home his messages effectively, revealing his pro-capitalist stance.

The author also shows his understanding of the mechanisms employed by the government and the tax man and concludes that it is the middle class that actually pay for the poor. The rich are the ones who are hardly taxed because they have the knowledge to use tax legislation to their advantage.

A Primary Theme in Rich Dad, Poor Dad

One theme that’s apparent in this book is that for an individual to be wealthy, he must aim to own the system or means of production, rather than work for another individual. The author stresses that there is obviously something confining about being an employee; it shuts the mind to other possibilities and it stunts initiative.

Financial intelligence is THE most powerful asset. By studying the precepts of accounting and investing, the author believes that individuals will be able to see the difference between an asset and a liability; in fact it is the more concrete application of learning what’s right and what’s wrong. Generating a string of expenses is wrong, building assets is right.

Unlike individuals who earn and then pay taxes on what they earn, corporations earn, spend what they want to spend, and pay taxes on what’s left. Corporations, therefore, hold a certain degree of power. The rich know how to use this power, the poor don’t.

The author also believes that true luxuries are experienced when they are the outward manifestations of intelligent investing and asset building. He cites the example of his wife purchasing a Mercedes Benz because it was the car she liked and worked hard to be able to purchase it. The author cautions however about keeping up with the Joneses and getting into debt because of this human frailty.

Fear, laziness, cynicism and arrogance are to be blamed for most of human inaction.

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3 thoughts on “The Most Important Theme of ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad”

  1. After reading only the theme of the book, I thought it is a very interesting book and I am going to buy this. I just saw how beautifully Robert Kiyosaki tells how the middle class father/dad thinks and remains on some sort of materialistic things like school then specialization on a subject then get a job security and last retire with some benefits whereas in the other hand the rich father/dad thinks we should develop creativity, money knowledge and most important courage then we should master on some skills and then use that skill for earning and for buying assets and at last {use money for making money} which is investing.
    As I am a teenager I believed this is the most exciting and knowledge providing book for teens and in my opinion you should read it and you will get motivated about not taking money as your first priority but skill and secondly, enough knowledge in the psychology(section) of money which can help you in your future in becoming smart (rich) in terms of money.

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    1. You are very wise. I bought this book for three of my children when they were in their teens (it has been updated since then). All three are very successful and they attribute it, in part to the book. Good luck. Thank you for commenting and we certainly appreciate your readership. Would love to know your thought after you have read it.

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