The following is an excerpt from the book Rich Dad’s Success Stories by Robert T. Kiyosaki and Sharon L. Lechter C.P.A.
Chapter 1 Money Matters:
ED AND TERRY COLMAN
If we watched a movie about 1960s free thinkers morphing into twenty-first-century rent collectors we would have chalked it up as a Hollywood fantasy. But the story is true. Three years ago, Terry and I began to buy real estate. We now own eight homes in three states worth over $1 million. How and why we changed our minds and moved from fiscal stagnation to financial action is, in a very profound way, the story of how many in our generation have changed, too.
Maybe our pre-real estate situation shouldn’t have been so surprising. Money had not been a topic of discussion in my house, so I didn’t receive any information, much less training, about it. My parents thought I was irresponsible where money was concerned; as soon I got it, I spent it. In contrast, my younger sister, the “responsible one,” always saved her money. Education was regarded as a good thing, but I was never told that I needed to get a good education that would lead to a solid job and that I’d be set for life. In order to be a well-rounded person, education was necessary. My sister graduated from college, but after three years at Antioch College, I left school.
While I was growing up in Los Angeles, Terry was across the country in New York. Still, she racked up two years of college in California. We met in 1980, married in 1987, and both of us stayed rooted in the hippie mode of the 1960s and 1970s.
We held on to the conviction that money, the currency of “filthy capitalist pigs,” wasn’t important. Many in our generation embraced a righteous indignation where money was concerned. Living check to check seemed natural and the ambition to accumulate a lot of money never bit us. “Free love” was the currency of our generation. We knew nothing about finance and we weren’t inclined to learn.
Fifteen years ago, when we were in our thirties, we worked in the motion picture production business. I was an assistant cameraman who kind of fell into the industry. My father, a freelance cameraman and director, had asked me if I wanted to give the job a try. My background was in graphic arts and photography and since I wasn’t really doing anything at the time I said sure. I didn’t see this as a particularly great opportunity or a step on a much desired career path. Work just meant money.
One day Terry came to the set where I was working and noticed the makeup specialist’s efforts. The skill appealed to her, and she became a makeup artist, as well as a hand model.
We were hired to do a lot of commercials, which entailed travel and hotels and a rather glamorous lifestyle. Sure, we worked job to job and put in fifteen-hour days, ten or twenty days a month, but the rest of the time was ours. We went to the beach and when we wanted to play tennis that’s what we did. Spending money was the goal. We had a great time living moment to moment.
On the surface, this was a very “free” and cool way to live but the reality changed the moment our son, Jake, was born almost fourteen years ago. His arrival was a loud wake-up call. With no plan for the future, we never considered what would happen to us-much less to our son-ten or twenty years hence. We carried more than $10,000 in credit card debt and counted less than $500 in our savings account. We had no goals, no assets, no investments, and no way out of the dire predicament we found ourselves in. “What do we do now?” we asked ourselves.
Terry stayed home with Jake while I worked. Unfortunately, my schedule was crazy. Sometimes I’d be gone for weeks at a time. By the time Jake was old enough to notice I wasn’t home and would ask “Where’s Dad?” we felt trapped. I couldn’t leave the film business. It was what I knew and I couldn’t imagine working in any other field even if anyone would hire me. We knew we had to make changes, but where to start? It was time to grow up.
Let me set the scene for you. By 1992, Terry and I, ready to act on our financial future, were willing to try something different. One sunny California morning, I was in a park, pushing Jake in a swing. Another dad was doing likewise. Already there was something different about this day because two dads entertaining their kids at a park on a weekday was unusual.
We began to talk and the man told me he was with the Amway business, which deals with network marketing. It turned out that his sponsorship was in Hawaii, a place both Terry and I loved. When Terry met him and heard about the Hawaiian connection her response was purely emotional. Here was a way for us to get back to Hawaii. We did much more than that. We started to build our own organization but we didn’t create a huge downline, that is, sponsor other people in the organization. But something very valuable did come out of this venture. Just when we were ready for it, we learned how to do business. The procedure training seminars, instructions on how to present the plan, sales training, and reading lists containing personal development and success principle books provided us with a terrific learning experience and spurred tremendous personal growth. We started to associate with successful people we could learn from. Mingling with millionaires who shared their wisdom unlocked our minds and cast out our narrow views about finance. How money could be used-in addition to how the world of money worked-was a mind-expanding experience.
The suggested book list was particularly valuable. The Richest Man in Babylon really opened our eyes to the way we were dealing with money. Two years after reading that book all our credit card debt had been eliminated and our savings account held thousands of dollars. How to Win Friends and Influence People was another enormously important book for us. Reading it gave us the tools to deal with others effectively.
Being in the right place at the right time-in this instance the swing set at the park-led to business training. Now we had graduated from the first phase of our financial education. What, we wondered, were we supposed to do next?
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