Immediately after writing my last post “How to Spend Money”—in which I advocate being frugal and not spending money unnecessarily, a library book I’d reserved came available: Robert Kyosaki’s Rich Dad’s Guide to Investing. The first section of this book is almost entirely dedicated to the concept of retraining and refocusing your mind to think like the rich do. In other words, instead of pinching pennies as part of a frame of reference where money is scare, change your mindset to one in which money is abundant and don’t be cheap.
This makes a lot of sense to me. I won’t make a full about-face in follow up to “How to Spend Money” but am inclined to adjust my thinking somewhat. The standard disclaimer I include with every blog post includes a note that I’m learning too, so here’s direct evidence of that! Most importantly, I’m learning and have a very open mind on financial matters as I’m not yet prejudiced by a lot of experience; I’m therefore willing to adapt and adjust my thinking on the fly and explore new ideas and concepts like this one.
A note: I realise this post isn’t directly related to property investment but—for me—property investment is simply a means (a “vehicle” in rich dad speak) to wealth.
Although I’ve not necessarily been cheap, I’ve definitely been frugal often and modesty always has been—and always will be—a pillar of what it means to be me.
Rich dad wisdom suggests being frugal is okay but there’s no sense in being rich but living poor. As an extension to that, it’s worth pointing out another Rich Dad pearl, which suggests having a low income and high expenses is superior to the traditional goal of having a high income and low expenses. In other words, use good expenses to reduce your taxable income (and to tie that back to our current discussion: don’t be cheap by trying to keep your expenses low). I’ll add this book is by far the best of the three Rich Dad, Poor Dad books I’ve read to date—it’s very conceptual but so worth the read—see the Amazon.com link above to check it out.
Frugality I would define as choosing to not be extravagant in your daily spending habits (for me this also relates directly to my greenie sensibilities: I choose not to be a consumer and pollute my environment with unnecessary packaging and products). I always prefer to buy quality and do not buy to throw away—this is and always will be a way of life for me. If I were cheap, I would buy poorly made, disposable things in quantity—at the very least.
To quote from Kiyoaski’s book: “My rich dad would say, ‘There are two ways to become rich. One way is to earn more. The other way is to desire less. The problem is that most people are not good with either way.’ […] this book [is] about how you can earn more so you can desire more.”
I’ve not been too bad on the desiring less front but I do look at people around me who seem content spending a lot of money and wish I could be less frugal, if not less cheap! I certainly want to be more generous and focus the money I must spend on the positive aspects of life.
Kiyosaki also cites another article on this subject which suggests the wealth you can build by living as though you were poor is finite (the article cited also discusses penny pinching in the context of becoming not just a “millionaire” but a “multimillionaire”).
The book doesn’t offer much in terms of definition between frugality and cheapness but the author does leave us with another rich dad quote: “‘If you want to be really rich, you need to know when to be frugal and when to be a spendthrift. The problem is that too many people know how to be cheap only.’” I think this point also extends beyond the black and white argument of frugality versus cheapness and into the broader educational context of the investor: do we understand the difference between good debt and bad debt, good expenses and bad expenses, assets versus liabilities, taxation laws, ownership structures, etc, etc? In other words, are we being constantly cheap or are we being selectively cheap? I mentioned in the previous post not spending money on a depreciating asset like a car; that’s not frugality but rather understanding how not to waste money quickly.
Notably, Kiyosaki goes on to write (later in the book) that rich dad focused on delayed gratification in the short term in favour of a long-term reward. I think this is key and really at the crux of what I was suggesting in my earlier post. Nonetheless, I do believe in the power of setting goals and ‘thinking yourself’ into the reality you desire.
As a final thought, I’ll suggest not being cheap doesn’t mean splashing out at every opportunity. Meanwhile, keep thinking rich!
I suppose a disclaimer is also worth posting: I'm just a guy, I'm not an accountant, lawyer, solicitor, tax agent, mortgage broker, banker, financial adviser, insurance agent, land developer, builder, government agent, or anything else so I disclaim your application of anything I write here is to be applied at your own risk. What I write may be incorrect and you are best to seek your own professional advice (tax, legal, financial, and otherwise) before entering into contracts or spending your money. Your situation is unique to you and what I write here reflects my experience only. This content is not professional advice and is not tailored to your situation. I'm learning too and expect to make many, many mistakes along the way.