Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Assets Are Not What You Think They Are

The boring old dictionary definition of an asset reads something like this--an asset is anything that is valuable or useful.

Does that mean toilet paper is an asset? An argument could be made that those little squares of white paper are both valuable and useful. The same could be said about a computer or a stove or a pick up truck. But are these really assets?

According to Rich Dad, Poor Dad author Robert Kiyosaki in his book, Unfair Advantage (c.2011), an asset is something that brings you positive cash flow...that's it. Your house you live in, by that definition, isn't even an asset. It's an expense.

Now, I confess that I'm not actually reading Unfair Advantage right now but someone very close to me is, someone who has not stopped talking to me about the content since he "borrowed" it from my desk a week ago. I was planning to read and review it, which is why it was on my desk available to be borrowed.

From what I can see, this book could be a game changer for readers who are looking for ways to maximize their personal and financial potential, even if they did not know they were intentionally seeking to maximize either of those things. According to my reader-friend, Kiyosaki's Monopoly-game approach to wealth-building and his straight forward prose loaded with personal stories is powerful.

I've been told that Kiyosaki is brutally honest and in your face about the stupidity of following conventional financial wisdom that says we all have to live within our means, save money and invest in a diversified portfolio of stocks, bonds and mutual funds. He says that all of those those ideas are lies that leave you poor and broke. Those are powerful thoughts indeed.

So if toilet paper and the houses we live in aren't assets, what are? Like a fresh-faced convert my reader-friend can answer this off the top of his head--businesses, real estate that earns income, commodities and income earning investments are assets, and anything else you buy is an expense, even those things in which your are hoping for capital gains.

In short, positive cash flow = asset. Is this life-changing financial knowledge? I'll let you know.

Copyright 2012. Laura Thomas. All Rights Reserved.
For reprint permission please contact moneyme at telus dot net.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Wealthy Barber Returns - Review

Let me say two things right off the bat.

First, I was sorry to see that David Chilton abandoned the "fictional" approach he used in his millions-of-copies-sold book, The Wealthy Barber. I am not sure why he chose to communicate with us in a an almost Tweet-like style of prose in his second personal finance book, The Wealthy Barber Returns. It's a terribly annoying style, but that's just the writer in me talking.

Second, it has taken me a long time to get around to blogging about Dave's new book (which was published last year) and the only excuse I have is that it's been like sucking on a jawbreaker. I just can't rush it. And, I confess, if I have a second excuse for putting off writing this review, it may have something to do with the fact that though he's the only person I know who responds to emails almost instantaneously, he also keeps putting off my requests for an interview.

Anyway, I've read and reread, skimmed and perused, trying to think how best to review it, which for me typically means rooting out the essential nuggets of wisdom and sharing them with my readers. This time though, every page has a wealth of nuggets so I don't know where to start with what is, essentially, one man's philosophy of money.
Some of the most interesting nuggets for me are:
  • The idea that we shouldn't hang out with people who can afford a richer lifestyle than we can because it is too tempting to go into debt trying to keep up.
  • Paraphrasing Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Dave writes, "When we covet things we can't afford, we grow poorer regardless of our incomes." He talks about maxing out on your mortgage as a big mistake which is entangled with this concept and with happiness in general.
  • This simple concept: save first, spend second.
On the homepage of his website, Dave has a note about the new book. At the end of this note he writes, "In a way, I’ve been writing this book for more than 20 years. I really hope you enjoy and benefit from its ideas. Even if you don’t, though, please tell others that you did."
Okay, Dave, I've told my readers that I love the book...how about that interview?

Within about half an hour of posting this review, Dave called me. He's promised me an interview, so I have asked him to be a guest on series three of Money Moment, which, by the way, is going to half-hour episodes.

Copyright 2012. Laura Thomas. All Rights Reserved.
For reprint permission contact moneyme at telus dot net.