Rich Dad, Poor Dad…Owning Your Family History

by Debt Destroyer on August 18, 2008

I bet lots of you have read Robert Kiyosaki’s, “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” where he talks about the different ways his father and a friend’s father taught him about money. When looking back at my own life I see that I too had different perspectives shown to me.

My parents split up when I was 4, and went in very different paths upon their separation.

My Dad who was a plumber when he was married to my Mom, moved back in with his parents in the Twin Cities so he could go back to school and be close to better health-care (he was a multiple cancer & heart attack survivor). He was very outgoing and ended up being elected class president at the community college he went to. He studied business and became a real estate agent after graduating.

I remember him being a realtor for a while but it wasn’t his passion so when the market turned bad, he went back to being a part-time plumber. But his main source of income was disability payments.

My Mom was a rather shy and conservative bookkeeper. Due to my Dad’s poor health she was often the only one working while they were together, so she knew how to stretch a dollar. A few years after the divorce she married her boss. The business grew from 3 employees to 30. They partnered up with another couple and bought several rental properties. They’d work 60 hours a week and then work on their rentals on the weekend. They are the epitome of “hard work = success”.

On paper it seems like a clear case of whose financial advice I should follow:

  • My Dad declared bankruptcy two times.
  • My Mom saved almost everything she ever made and should have no financial worries.

But real life isn’t lived on paper.

My Dad was an optimist. Even though he struggled his whole life, he always thought things were going to turn around. Which probably explains why he tried so many pyramid schemes, excuse me, I mean multi-level marketing systems. While his situation did cause him stress, he was generally a positive person who was always smiling.

Where as my Mom is a walking ball of stress with a permanent scowl on her face. She is afraid of almost everything and believes that Murphy’s law is written in stone. Don’t get me wrong, she too is a very pleasant and caring person, but only those close to her know that.

My Dad always told me to find something that I loved doing and I would be a success. My Mom always stressed security.

I didn’t realize this until just now, but this duality has been messing with me my whole life. Like in college I majored in Radio TV & Film, but shortly before graduating I abandoned this due to it paying peanuts straight out of school. I instead took a marketing job and have been in a corporate mindset since. It also explains why I can go in long stretches of great financial discipline, but then blow it all away just like that.

Interesting…I think I just saved myself thousands in therapy :)

**You’ll note that I’m referring to my Dad in the past tense. He passed away in 1996. If he were alive today he’d probably be working for my uncle’s plumbing & heating business, be a fantastic grandfather, and he’d be trying to get us to become Monavie distributors. **

But enough about me, what about you?

Where did your financial philosophies come from? Are you following in someone’s footsteps or did you carve out your own path?

Until next time,


P.S. For those of you who were hoping for a review of the “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” book, here is a one liner:

I found it to be an easy read which opened my eyes to the benefits of passive streams of income, and not to think of my house as an asset.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

The First Creditor August 18, 2008 at 4:47 pm

Great post, a genuine read for sure. I definitely take after my father in that I am always thinking of some ‘get rich quick’ scheme. Although in my father’s eyes they were never quick, and weren’t really schemes. I grew up listening to his plans to breed dogs on the side, start an insecticide business, or just buy a rental property. He always thought about things to do, but never actually went through with any of them. But to be fair, when I pressed him on this matter, he said “I am living my dream”. He was referring to owning his own surveying business. But I always wanted to take it one step further than he did. So one of the first things I did out of college was buy a rental property. Here I am a few years later, looking for the next thing.


Nicole August 18, 2008 at 4:48 pm

This is so interesting. Growing up, my parents always seemed to be able to afford whatever we needed while the rest of my extended family seemed to really struggle. I was worried that one day we would run out of money but it never happened. I guess growing up with the two ideas made me see it was possible to manage money well but just because you were broke didn’t mean you did anything in particular to “deserve” it. I now feel I need to work at managing money and be generous when I am able to be.


Sid Savara August 18, 2008 at 5:05 pm

My financial philosophy comes from my father, and also my uncle. Both of them succeeded in their respective jobs, and then took their money and bought and/or started businesses. I also took away the same thing from Rich Dad Poor Dad you did – your house is not an asset. I still believe owning property is the way to long term wealth though.


fern August 19, 2008 at 3:52 pm

what an interesting description of the differences between your parents. In my case, it was just the opposite. My parents divorced when i was 6, but my dad still argued with my mother when i went to college; he wanted me to major in something practical, that would lead to a good job, while my mother urged me to pursue what interested me. I ended up majoring in anthropology, which had absolutely no bearing on my career path, but what did i know as a 19-yr-old?

i was an avid reader in childhood and blessed with an ability to write, so that’s what i’ve done these past 30 years in a variety of business settings and including marketing, advertising, PR, you name it.

Still, growing up with mom, we never had enough money, so i learned how to save money early on. Those habits have lasted me in good stead.


M3 August 20, 2008 at 2:03 pm

Hmmm…what an awesome post! My mother’s first divorce came when I was three, then she married my “dad”, who adopted me, and they divorced when I was 17. I’ve never thought about the messages separately, but they are very different. My dad plugs away at life (he’s a Timex!) and loyal to a fault, and ends up with a lot of nice things, but isn’t very generous with them. He is a rock who is the same now as he was then. My mom is dramatic and cares about “current” and “in” (She’s a quality knock-off of a diamond encrusted Rolex). She is a “see and be seen” person who redefines herself with every man and every era and cares how things look to other people, which means out with the old and in with the new–be it people, things, or fashions. She’s very generous in a “Lady Bountiful” kind of way. So, how did that shape me? I work hard for our life, but I like more color and flair than my dad. Stability matters more to me than it does to my mom. I’m optimistic, so I have found my way into debt more than I should (isn’t debt just faith you’ll be able to pay it off sometime?). I recognize appearances don’t tell the whole story. I guess I fall somewhere between the two…I need to think more on it. Thanks for the awesome post!


Scott @ The Passive Dad August 20, 2008 at 5:56 pm

I think you just saved me some therapy as well :) I love reflecting back on the past and think my spending/saving philosophy came directly from my grandparents. My grandma was a saver and investor and always stressed the importance of finding the best deals and putting money aside for a rainy day.

I really enjoyed reading your post and will include this on “Post that motivate and inspire” this week.


GP Garry August 20, 2008 at 8:26 pm

This is an awesome post, I cam see a lot of parallels in it to events in my life and that of my family…I am now doing something that I like to do after not finding that throughout my life, and hopefully, it will pay off. Thanks for the great post!


JBO August 21, 2008 at 3:40 am

Great post! – I like to think I am driven to succeed with business although there is a very fine line between being drive, and making it your whole life. It sounds like your mom has dedicated her whole life to business and lives to work – not works to live?

To succeed in any business I think you do have to work really hard and I can see how doing that for a period of time can suck you in to that cycle which for some, is hard to break.

I like to try and balance it but mostly it’s either more work or more play depending on my mood of the time – I guess for now, that works for me!


John (Debt Defier) August 21, 2008 at 1:26 pm

Thanks for the comments, I’m glad you liked this post.

@First Creditor – LOL My Dad always wanted to breed dogs too (Chinese Sharpies). He ended up trying to breed Boa Constrictors, but the only thing he bred were rats (snake food).

Congrats on the rental, and good luck finding the next thing.

@Nicole – I think your last line is good advice for everyone.

@Sid – Sounds like you had a couple of great examples to learn from.

@fern – Interesting how our stories are similar but different.

@M3 – I loved the comparison of your parents to watches.

@Scott – Aren’t grandparents wonderful things :) I’m glad you liked my post. Thanks for including it in the inspire & motivate list.

@ GP Garry – Good for you doing something you like. I’m SUPER jealous!

@JBO – “Lives to work” is exactly how my Mom could be described. When asked what she’d like to do on vacation, she said yard-work :)

You are correct that there is a fine line between balance and obsession.


Jared|Speakwealthnow February 28, 2009 at 11:01 am

Sadly, I’m currently making my own philosophy not from my parents but from those that I don’t even know personally. See, both my parents (like your mom) are very good with budgeting money. So good that pursuing a higher level of financial status is not of their concern. They’re stagnant as to where they are right now. As for me, I want to pursue more, to remain optimistic and take advantage of the opportunities around me.


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