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Short Summary of the Book:
LESSON 1: THE RICH DON’T
WORK FOR MONEY
The poor and the middle-class work for money.
The rich have money work for them.
“Dad, can you tell me how to get rich?”
My dad put down the evening paper. “Why do you want to get rich, Son?”
“Because today Jimmy’s mom drove up in their new Cadillac, and
they were going to their beach house for the weekend. He took three
of his friends, but Mike and I weren’t invited. They told us we weren’t
invited because we were poor kids.”
“They did?” my dad asked incredulously.
“Yeah, they did,” I replied in a hurt tone.
My dad silently shook his head, pushed his glasses up the bridge of his
nose, and went back to reading the paper. I stood waiting for an answer.
The year was 1956. I was nine years old. By some twist of fate,
I attended the same public school where the rich people sent their
kids. We were primarily a sugar-plantation town. The managers of
the plantation and the other affluent people, such as doctors, business
owners, and bankers, sent their children to this elementary school.
After grade six, their children were generally sent off to private
schools. Because my family lived on one side of the street, I went
to this school. Had I lived on the other side of the street, I would
have gone to a different school with kids from families more like
mine. After grade six, these kids and I would go on to the public
intermediate and high school. There was no private school for them
or for me.
My dad finally put down the paper. I could tell he was thinking.
“Well, Son…,” he began slowly. “If you want to be rich, you have
to learn to make money.”
“How do I make money?” I asked.
“Well, use your head, Son,” he said, smiling. Even then I knew
that really meant, “That’s all I’m going to tell you,” or “I don’t know
the answer, so don’t embarrass me.”
A Partnership Is Formed
The next morning, I told my best friend, Mike, what my dad had
said. As best as I could tell, Mike and I were the only poor kids in this
school. Mike was also in this school by a twist of fate. Someone had
drawn a jog in the line for the school district, and we wound up in
school with the rich kids. We weren’t really poor, but we felt as if we
were because all the other boys had new baseball gloves, new bicycles,
Mom and Dad provided us with the basics, like food, shelter,
and clothes. But that was about it. My dad used to say, “If you want
something, work for it.” We wanted things, but there was not much
work available for nine-year-old boys.
“So what do we do to make money?” Mike asked.
“I don’t know,” I said. “But do you want to be my partner?”
He agreed, and so on that Saturday morning, Mike became my
first business partner. We spent all morning coming up with ideas
on how to make money. Occasionally we talked about all the “cool
guys” at Jimmy’s beach house having fun. It hurt a little, but that hurt
was good, because it inspired us to keep thinking of a way to make
money. Finally, that afternoon, a bolt of lightning struck. It was an
idea Mike got from a science book he had read. Excitedly, we shook
hands, and the partnership now had a business.
For the next several weeks, Mike and I ran around our neighborhood,
knocking on doors and asking our neighbors if they would save their
toothpaste tubes for us. With puzzled looks, most adults consented with a
smile. Some asked us what we were doing, to which we replied, “We can’t
tell you. It’s a business secret.”
My mom grew distressed as the weeks wore on. We had selected a
site next to her washing machine as the place we would stockpile our
raw materials. In a brown cardboard box that at one time held catsup
bottles, our little pile of used toothpaste tubes began to grow.
Finally my mom put her foot down. The sight of her neighbors’
messy, crumpled, used toothpaste tubes had gotten to her. “What are you
boys doing?” she asked. “And I don’t want to hear again that it’s a business
secret. Do something with this mess, or I’m going to throw it out.”
Mike and I pleaded and begged, explaining that we would soon
have enough and then we would begin production. We informed her
that we were waiting on a couple of neighbors to finish their toothpaste
so we could have their tubes. Mom granted us a one-week extension.
The date to begin production was moved up, and the pressure was
on. My first partnership was already being threatened with an eviction
notice by my own mom! It became Mike’s job to tell the neighbors to
quickly use up their toothpaste, saying their dentist wanted them to
brush more often anyway. I began to put together the production line.
One day my dad drove up with a friend to see two nine-year-old
boys in the driveway with a production line operating at full speed.
There was fine white powder everywhere. On a long table were small
milk cartons from school, and our family’s hibachi grill was glowing
with red-hot coals at maximum heat.
Dad walked up cautiously, having to park the car at the base of
the driveway since the production line blocked the carport. As he and
his friend got closer, they saw a steel pot sitting on top of the coals in
which the toothpaste tubes were being melted down. In those days,
toothpaste did not come in plastic tubes. The tubes were made of
lead. So once the paint was burned off, the tubes were dropped in the
small steel pot. They melted until they became liquid, and with my
mom’s potholders, we poured the lead through a small hole in the
top of the milk cartons.
The milk cartons were filled with plaster of Paris. The white powder
was everywhere. In my haste, I had knocked the bag over, and the
entire area looked like it had been hit by a snowstorm. The milk
cartons were the outer containers for plaster of paris molds.
My dad and his friend watched as we carefully poured the molten
lead through a small hole in the top of the plaster of paris cube.
“Careful,” my dad said.
I nodded without looking up.
Finally, once the pouring was through, I put the steel pot down
and smiled at my dad.
“What are you boys doing?” he asked with a cautious smile.
“We’re doing what you told me to do. We’re going to be rich,”
“Yup,” said Mike, grinning and nodding his head. “We’re partners.”
“And what is in those plaster molds?” my dad asked.
“Watch,” I said. “This should be a good batch.”
With a small hammer, I tapped at the seal that divided the cube
in half. Cautiously, I pulled up the top half of the plaster mold and a
lead nickel fell out.
“Oh, no!” my dad exclaimed. “You’re casting nickels out of lead!”
“That’s right,” Mike said. “We’re doing as you told us to do. We’re
My dad’s friend turned and burst into laughter. My dad smiled
and shook his head. Along with a fire and a box of spent toothpaste
tubes, in front of him were two little boys covered with white dust
smiling from ear to ear.
He asked us to put everything down and sit with him on the front
step of our house. With a smile, he gently explained what the word
Our dreams were dashed. “You mean this is illegal?” asked Mike
in a quivering voice.
“Let them go,” my dad’s friend said. “They might be developing a
My dad glared at him.
“Yes, it is illegal,” my dad said gently. “But you boys have shown
great creativity and original thought. Keep going. I’m really proud
Disappointed, Mike and I sat in silence for about twenty minutes
before we began cleaning up our mess. The business was over on
opening day. Sweeping the powder up, I looked at Mike and said,
“I guess Jimmy and his friends are right. We are poor.”
My father was just leaving as I said that. “Boys,” he said. “You’re
only poor if you give up. The most important thing is that you did
something. Most people only talk and dream of getting rich. You’ve
done something. I’m very proud of the two of you. I will say it again:
Keep going. Don’t quit.”
Mike and I stood there in silence. They were nice words, but we
still did not know what to do.
“So how come you’re not rich, Dad?” I asked.
“Because I chose to be a schoolteacher. Schoolteachers really don’t
think about being rich. We just like to teach. I wish I could help you,
but I really don’t know how to make money.”
Mike and I turned and continued our cleanup.
“I know,” said my dad. “If you boys want to learn how to be
rich, don’t ask me. Talk to your dad, Mike.”
“My dad?” asked Mike with a scrunched-up face.
“Yeah, your dad,” repeated my dad with a smile. “Your dad
and I have the same banker, and he raves about your father. He’s
told me several times that your father is brilliant when it comes to
“My dad?” Mike asked again in disbelief. “Then how come we
don’t have a nice car and a nice house like the rich kids at school?”
“A nice car and a nice house don’t necessarily mean you’re rich or
you know how to make money,” my dad replied. “Jimmy’s dad works for
the sugar plantation. He’s not much different from me. He works for a
company, and I work for the government. The company buys the car for
him. The sugar company is in financial trouble, and Jimmy’s dad may
soon have nothing. Your dad is different, Mike. He seems to be building
an empire, and I suspect in a few years he will be a very rich man.”
With that, Mike and I got excited again. With new vigor, we began
cleaning up the mess caused by our now-defunct first business. As we
were cleaning, we made plans for how and when to talk to Mike’s dad.
The problem was that Mike’s dad worked long hours and often did not
come home until late. His father owned warehouses, a construction
company, a chain of stores, and three restaurants. It was the restaurants
that kept him out late.
Mike caught the bus home after we had finished cleaning up. He
was going to talk to his dad when he got home that night and ask him
if he would teach us how to become rich. Mike promised to call as soon
as he had talked to his dad, even if it was late.
The phone rang at 8:30 p.m.
“Okay,” I said. “Next Saturday.” I put the phone down. Mike’s dad
had agreed to meet with us.
On Saturday I caught the 7:30 a.m. bus to the poor side of town.
The Lessons Begin
Mike and I met with his dad that morning at eight o’clock. He
was already busy, having been at work for more than an hour. His
construction supervisor was just leaving in his pickup truck as I walked
up to his simple, small, and tidy home. Mike met me at the door.
“Dad’s on the phone, and he said to wait on the back porch,”
Mike said as he opened the door.
The old wooden floor creaked as I stepped across the threshold of
the aging house. There was a cheap mat just inside the door. The mat
was there to hide the years of wear from countless footsteps that the
floor had supported. Although clean, it needed to be replaced.
I felt claustrophobic as I entered the narrow living room that
was filled with old musty overstuffed furniture that today would be
collectors’ items. Sitting on the couch were two women, both a little
older than my mom. Across from the women sat a man in workman’s
clothes. He wore khaki slacks and a khaki shirt, neatly pressed but
without starch, and polished work boots. He was about 10 years older
than my dad. They smiled as Mike and I walked past them toward the
back porch. I smiled back shyly.
“Who are those people?” I asked.
“Oh, they work for my dad. The older man runs his warehouses,
and the women are the managers of the restaurants. And as you
arrived, you saw the construction supervisor who is working on a
road project about 50 miles from here. His other supervisor, who is
building a track of houses, left before you got here.”
“Does this go on all the time?” I asked.
“Not always, but quite often,” said Mike, smiling as he pulled up
a chair to sit down next to me.
“I asked my dad if he would teach us to make money,” Mike said.
“Oh, and what did he say to that?” I asked with cautious curiosity.
“Well, he had a funny look on his face at first, and then he said he
would make us an offer.”
“Oh,” I said, rocking my chair back against the wall. I sat there
perched on two rear legs of the chair.
Mike did the same thing.
“Do you know what the offer is?” I asked.
“No, but we’ll soon find out.”
Suddenly, Mike’s dad burst through the rickety screen door and
onto the porch. Mike and I jumped to our feet, not out of respect,
but because we were startled.
“Ready, boys?” he asked as he pulled up a chair to sit down with us.
We nodded our heads as we pulled our chairs away from the wall
to sit in front of him.
He was a big man, about six feet tall and 200 pounds. My dad was
taller, about the same weight, and five years older than Mike’s dad. They
sort of looked alike, though not of the same ethnic makeup. Maybe their
energy was similar.
“Mike says you want to learn to make money? Is that correct, Robert?”
I nodded my head quickly, but with a little trepidation. He had
a lot of power behind his words and smile.
“Okay, here’s my offer. I’ll teach you, but I won’t do it classroom style.
You work for me, I’ll teach you. You don’t work for me, I won’t
teach you. I can teach you faster if you work, and I’m wasting my time if
you just want to sit and listen like you do in school. That’s my offer. Take
it or leave it.”
“Ah, may I ask a question first?” I asked.
“No. Take it or leave it. I’ve got too much work to do to waste
my time. If you can’t make up your mind decisively, then you’ll never
learn to make money anyway. Opportunities come and go. Being able
to know when to make quick decisions is an important skill. You have
the opportunity that you asked for. School is beginning, or it’s over in
10 seconds,” Mike’s dad said with a teasing smile.
“Take it,” I said.
“Take it,” said Mike.
“Good,” said Mike’s dad. “Mrs. Martin will be by in 10 minutes.
After I’m through with her, you’ll ride with her to my superette and
you can begin working. I’ll pay you 10 cents an hour, and you’ll work
three hours every Saturday.”
“But I have a softball game today,” I said.
Mike’s dad lowered his voice to a stern tone. “Take it, or leave it,”
“I’ll take it,” I replied, choosing to work and learn instead of playing.
Thirty Cents Later
By 9:00 a.m. that day, Mike and I were working for Mrs. Martin.
She was a kind and patient woman. She always said that Mike and I
reminded her of her two grown sons. Although kind, she believed in hard
work and kept us moving. We spent three hours taking canned goods off
the shelves, brushing each can with a feather duster to get the dust off,
and then re-stacking them neatly. It was excruciatingly boring work.
Mike’s dad, whom I call my rich dad, owned nine of these little
superettes, each with a large parking lot. They were the early version
of the 7-Eleven convenience stores, little neighborhood grocery stores
where people bought items such as milk, bread, butter, and cigarettes.
The problem was that this was Hawaii before air-conditioning was
widely used, and the stores could not close their doors because of the
heat. On two sides of the store, the doors had to be wide open to the
road and parking lot. Every time a car drove by or pulled into the
parking lot, dust would swirl and settle in the store. We knew we had
a job as long as there was no air-conditioning.
For three weeks, Mike and I reported to Mrs. Martin and worked
our three hours. By noon, our work was over, and she dropped three little
dimes in each of our hands. Now, even at the age of nine in the mid-
1950s, 30 cents was not too exciting. Comic books cost 10 cents back
then, so I usually spent my money on comic books and went home.
By Wednesday of the fourth week, I was ready to quit. I had
agreed to work only because I wanted to learn to make money from
Mike’s dad, and now I was a slave for 10 cents an hour. On top of
that, I had not seen Mike’s dad since that first Saturday.
“I’m quitting,” I told Mike at lunchtime. School was boring, and
now I did not even have my Saturdays to look forward to. But it was
the 30 cents that really got to me.
This time Mike smiled.
“What are you laughing at?” I asked with anger and frustration.
“Dad said this would happen. He said to meet with him when
you were ready to quit.”
“What?” I said indignantly. “He’s been waiting for me to get
“Sort of,” Mike said. “Dad’s kind of different. He doesn’t teach like
your dad. Your mom and dad lecture a lot. My dad is quiet and a man
of few words. You just wait till this Saturday. I’ll tell him you’re ready.”
“You mean I’ve been set up?”
“No, not really, but maybe. Dad will explain on Saturday.”
Waiting in Line on Saturday
I was ready to face Mike’s dad. Even my real dad was angry with
him. My real dad, the one I call the poor one, thought that my rich dad
was violating child labor laws and should be investigated.
My educated, poor dad told me to demand what I deserve—at least
25 cents an hour. My poor dad told me that if I did not get a raise, I
was to quit immediately.
“You don’t need that damned job anyway,” said my poor dad
At eight o’clock Saturday morning, I walked through the door of
Mike’s house when Mike’s dad opened it.
“Take a seat and wait in line,” he said as I entered. He turned and
disappeared into his little office next to a bedroom.
I looked around the room and didn’t see Mike anywhere. Feeling
awkward, I cautiously sat down next to the same two women who were
there four weeks earlier. They smiled and slid down the couch to make
room for me.
Forty-five minutes went by, and I was steaming. The two women
had met with him and left 30 minutes earlier. An older gentleman was
in there for 20 minutes and was also gone.
The house was empty, and here I sat in a musty, dark living room
on a beautiful sunny Hawaiian day, waiting to talk to a cheapskate who
exploited children. I could hear him rustling around the office, talking
on the phone, and ignoring me. I was ready to walk out, but for some
reason I stayed.
Finally, 15 minutes later, at exactly nine o’clock, rich dad walked out
of his office, said nothing, and signaled with his hand for me to enter.
“I understand you want a raise, or you’re going to quit,” rich dad
said as he swiveled in his office chair.
“Well, you’re not keeping your end of the bargain,” I blurted out,
nearly in tears. It was really frightening for me to confront a grown-up.
“You said that you would teach me if I worked for you. Well, I’ve
worked for you. I’ve worked hard. I’ve given up my baseball games to
work for you, but you haven’t kept your word, and you haven’t taught
me anything. You are a crook like everyone in town thinks you are.
You’re greedy. You want all the money and don’t take care of your
employees. You made me wait and don’t show me any respect. I’m
only a little boy, but I deserve to be treated better.”
Rich dad rocked back in his swivel chair, hands up to his chin,
and stared at me.
“Not bad,” he said. “In less than a month, you sound like most
of my employees.”
“What?” I asked. Not understanding what he was saying, I
continued with my grievance. “I thought you were going to keep
your end of the bargain and teach me. Instead you want to torture
me? That’s cruel. That’s really cruel.”
“I am teaching you,” rich dad said quietly.
“What have you taught me? Nothing!” I said angrily. “You haven’t
even talked to me once since I agreed to work for peanuts. Ten cents an
hour. Hah! I should notify the government about you. We have child
labor laws, you know. My dad works for the government, you know.”
“Wow!” said rich dad. “Now you sound just like most of the people
who used to work for me—people I’ve either fired or who have quit.”
“So what do you have to say?” I demanded, feeling pretty brave
for a little kid. “You lied to me. I’ve worked for you, and you have not
kept your word. You haven’t taught me anything.”
“How do you know that I’ve not taught you anything?” asked rich
“Well, you’ve never talked to me. I’ve worked for three weeks and
you have not taught me anything,” I said with a pout.
“Does teaching mean talking or a lecture?” rich dad asked.
“Well, yes,” I replied.
“That’s how they teach you in school,” he said, smiling. “But
that is not how life teaches you, and I would say that life is the best
teacher of all. Most of the time, life does not talk to you. It just sorts
of pushes you around. Each push is life saying, ‘Wake up. There’s
something I want you to learn.’”
“What is this man talking about?” I asked myself silently. “Life
pushing me around was life talking to me?” Now I knew I had to quit
my job. I was talking to someone who needed to be locked up.
“If you learn life’s lessons, you will do well. If not, life will just
continue to push you around. People do two things. Some just let life
push them around. Others get angry and push back. But they push
back against their boss, or their job, or their husband or wife. They
do not know it’s life that’s pushing.”
I had no idea what he was talking about.
“Life pushes all of us around. Some people give up and others
fight. A few learn the lesson and move on. They welcome life pushing
them around. To these few people, it means they need and want to
learn something. They learn and move on. Most quit, and a few like
Rich dad stood and shut the creaky old wooden window that
needed repair. “If you learn this lesson, you will grow into a wise,
wealthy, and happy young man. If you don’t, you will spend your
life blaming a job, low pay, or your boss for your problems. You’ll
live life always hoping for that big break that will solve all your
Rich dad looked over at me to see if I was still listening. His eyes
met mine. We stared at each other, communicating through our eyes.
Finally, I looked away once I had absorbed his message. I knew he
was right. I was blaming him, and I did ask to learn. I was fighting.
Rich dad continued, “Or if you’re the kind of person who has
no guts, you just give up every time life pushes you. If you’re that
kind of person, you’ll live all your life playing it safe, doing the right
things, saving yourself for some event that never happens. Then you
die a boring old man. You’ll have lots of friends who really like you
because you were such a nice hardworking guy. But the truth is that
you let life push you into submission. Deep down you were terrified
of taking risks. You really wanted to win, but the fear of losing was
greater than the excitement of winning. Deep inside, you and only
you will know you didn’t go for it. You chose to play it safe.”
Our eyes met again.
“You’ve been pushing me around?” I asked.
“Some people might say that,” smiled rich dad. “I would say that
I just gave you a taste of life.”
“What taste of life?” I asked, still angry, but now curious and
ready to learn.
“You boys are the first people who have ever asked me to teach
them how to make money. I have more than 150 employees, and not
one of them has asked me what I know about money. They ask me for
a job and a paycheck, but never to teach them about money. So most
will spend the best years of their lives working for money, not really
understanding what it is they are working for.”
I sat there listening intently.
“So when Mike told me you wanted to learn how to make money,
I decided to design a course that mirrored real life. I could talk until
I was blue in the face, but you wouldn’t hear a thing. So I decided to
let life push you around a bit so you could hear me. That’s why I only
paid you 10 cents.”
“So what is the lesson I learned from working for only 10 cents an
hour?” I asked. “That you’re cheap and exploit your workers?”
Rich dad rocked back and laughed heartily. Finally he said,
“You’d best change your point of view. Stop blaming me and thinking
I’m the problem. If you think I’m the problem, then you have to
change me. If you realize that you’re the problem, then you can
change yourself, learn something, and grow wiser. Most people want
everyone else in the world to change but themselves. Let me tell you,
it’s easier to change yourself than everyone else.”
“I don’t understand,” I said.
“Don’t blame me for your problems,” rich dad said, growing impatient.
“But you only pay me 10 cents.”
“So what are you learning?” rich dad asked, smiling.
“That you’re cheap,” I said with a sly grin.
“See, you think I’m the problem,” said rich dad.
“But you are.”
“Well, keep that attitude and you’ll learn nothing. Keep the
attitude that I’m the problem and what choices do you have?”
“Well, if you don’t pay me more or show me more respect and
teach me, I’ll quit.”
“Well put,” rich dad said. “And that’s exactly what most people
do. They quit and go looking for another job, a better opportunity,
and higher pay, actually thinking that this will solve the problem. In
most cases, it won’t.”
“So what should I do?” I asked. “Just take this measly 10 cents an
hour and smile?”
Rich dad smiled. “That’s what the other people do. But that’s all
they do, waiting for a raise thinking that more money will solve their
problems. Most just accept it, and some take a second job working
harder, but again accepting a small paycheck.”
I sat staring at the floor, beginning to understand the lesson
rich dad was presenting. I could sense it was a taste of life. Finally,
I looked up and asked, “So what will solve the problem?”
“This,” he said, leaning forward in his chair and tapping me
gently on the head. “This stuff between your ears.”
It was at that moment that rich dad shared the pivotal point of
view that separated him from his employees and my poor dad—and
led him to eventually become one of the richest men in Hawaii, while
my highly educated but poor dad struggled financially all his life.
It was a singular point of view that made all the difference over
Rich dad explained this point of view over and over, which I call
lesson number one: The poor and the middle class work for money. The
rich have money work for them.
On that bright Saturday morning, I learned a completely different
point of view from what I had been taught by my poor dad. At the age
of nine, I understood that both dads wanted me to learn. Both dads
encouraged me to study, but not the same things.
My highly educated dad recommended that I do what he did.
“Son, I want you to study hard, get good grades, so you can find a
safe, secure job with a big company. And make sure it has excellent
benefits.” My rich dad wanted me to learn how money works so I
could make it work for me.
These lessons I would learn through life with his guidance, not
because of a classroom.
My rich dad continued my first lesson, “I’m glad you got angry
about working for 10 cents an hour. If you hadn’t got angry and had
simply accepted it, I would have to tell you that I could not teach you.
You see, true learning takes energy, passion, and a burning desire. Anger
is a big part of that formula, for passion is anger and love combined.
When it comes to money, most people want to play it safe and feel
secure. So passion does not direct them. Fear does.”
“So is that why they’ll take jobs with low pay?” I asked.
“Yes,” said rich dad. “Some people say I exploit people because
I don’t pay as much as the sugar plantation or the government. I
say the people exploit themselves. It’s their fear, not mine.”
“But don’t you feel you should pay them more?” I asked.
“I don’t have to. And besides, more money will not solve their
problems. Just look at your dad. He makes a lot of money, and he
still can’t pay his bills. Most people, given more money, only get into
“So that’s why the 10 cents an hour,” I said, smiling. “It’s a part
of the lesson.”
“That’s right,” smiled rich dad. “You see, your dad went to school
and got an excellent education, so he could get a high-paying job. But
he still has money problems because he never learned anything about
money in school. On top of that, he believes in working for money.”
“And you don’t?” I asked.
“No, not really,” said rich dad. “If you want to learn to work for
money, then stay in school. That is a great place to learn to do that.
But if you want to learn how to have money work for you, then I will
teach you that. But only if you want to learn.”
“Wouldn’t everyone want to learn that?” I asked.
“No,” said rich dad, “simply because it’s easier to learn to work for
money, especially if fear is your primary emotion when the subject of
money is discussed.”
“I don’t understand,” I said with a frown.
“Don’t worry about that for now. Just know that it’s fear that keeps
most people working at a job: the fear of not paying their bills, the fear
of being fired, the fear of not having enough money, and the fear of
starting over. That’s the price of studying to learn a profession or trade,
and then working for money. Most people become a slave to money—
and then get angry at their boss.”
“Learning to have money work for you is a completely different
course of study?” I asked.
“Absolutely,” rich dad answered. “Absolutely.”
We sat in silence on that beautiful Hawaiian Saturday morning. My
friends had just started their Little League baseball game, but for some
reason I was now thankful I had decided to work for 10 cents an hour.
I sensed that I was about to learn something my friends wouldn’t learn
“Ready to learn?” asked rich dad.
“Absolutely,” I said with a grin.
“I have kept my promise. I’ve been teaching you from afar,” my rich
dad said. “At nine years old, you’ve gotten a taste of what it feels like to
work for money. Just multiply your last month by fifty years and you
will have an idea of what most people spend their life doing.”
“I don’t understand,” I said.
“How did you feel waiting in line to see me, once to get hired and
once to ask for more money?”
“Terrible,” I said.
“If you choose to work for money, that is what life will be like,” said
“And how did you feel when Mrs. Martin dropped three dimes in
your hand for three hours of work?”
“I felt like it wasn’t enough. It seemed like nothing. I was
disappointed,” I said.
“And that is how most employees feel when they look at their
paychecks—especially after all the tax and other deductions are taken
out. At least you got 100 percent.”
“You mean most workers don’t get paid everything?” I asked
“Heavens no!” said rich dad. “The government always takes its
“How do they do that?” I asked.
“Taxes,” said rich dad. “You’re taxed when you earn. You’re
taxed when you spend. You’re taxed when you save. You’re taxed
when you die.”
“Why do people let the government do that to them?”
“The rich don’t,” said rich dad with a smile. “The poor and the
middle class do. I’ll bet you that I earn more than your dad, yet he
pays more in taxes.”
“How can that be?” I asked. At my age, that made no sense to me.
“Why would someone let the government do that to them?”
Rich dad rocked slowly and silently in his chair, just looking at me.
“Ready to learn?” he asked.
I nodded my head slowly.
“As I said, there is a lot to learn. Learning how to have money work
for you is a lifetime study. Most people go to college for four years,
and their education ends. I already know that my study of money will
continue over my lifetime, simply because the more I find out, the
more I find out I need to know. Most people never study the subject.
They go to work, get their paycheck, balance their checkbooks, and
that’s it. Then they wonder why they have money problems. They think
that more money will solve the problem and don’t realize that it’s their
lack of financial education that is the problem.”
“So my dad has tax problems because he doesn’t understand
money?” I asked, confused.
“Look,” said rich dad, “taxes are just one small section on learning
how to have money work for you. Today, I just wanted to find out if
you still have the passion to learn about money. Most people don’t.
They want to go to school, learn a profession, have fun at their work,
and earn lots of money. One day they wake up with big money
problems, and then they can’t stop working. That’s the price of only
knowing how to work for money instead of studying how to have
money work for you. So do you still have the passion to learn?” asked
I nodded my head.
“Good,” said rich dad. “Now get back to work. This time, I will
pay you nothing.”
“What?” I asked in amazement.
“You heard me. Nothing. You will work the same three hours
every Saturday, but this time you will not be paid 10 cents per hour.
You said you wanted to learn to not work for money, so I’m not going
to pay you anything.”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
“I’ve already had this conversation with Mike and he’s already
working, dusting and stacking canned goods for free. You’d better
hurry and get back there.”
“That’s not fair,” I shouted. “You’ve got to pay something!”
“You said you wanted to learn. If you don’t learn this now, you’ll
grow up to be like the two women and the older man sitting in my
living room, working for money and hoping I don’t fire them. Or like
your dad, earning lots of money only to be in debt up to his eyeballs,
hoping more money will solve the problem. If that’s what you want,
I’ll go back to our original deal of 10 cents an hour. Or you can do
what most adults do: Complain that there is not enough pay, quit,
and go looking for another job.”
“But what do I do?” I asked.
Rich dad tapped me on the head. “Use this,” he said. “If you use
it well, you will soon thank me for giving you an opportunity and
you will grow into a rich man.”
I stood there, still not believing what a raw deal I was handed. I came
to ask for a raise, and somehow I was instead working for nothing.
Rich dad tapped me on the head again and said, “Use this. Now
get out of here and get back to work.”
Lesson #1: The Rich Don’t Work for Money
I didn’t tell my poor dad I wasn’t being paid. He wouldn’t have
understood, and I didn’t want to try to explain something I didn’t
For three more weeks, Mike and I worked three hours every
Saturday for nothing. The work didn’t bother me, and the routine
got easier, but it was the missed baseball games and not being able
to afford to buy a few comic books that got to me.
Rich dad stopped by at noon on the third week. We heard his
truck pull up in the parking lot and sputter when the engine was
turned off. He entered the store and greeted Mrs. Martin with a hug.
After finding out how things were going in the store, he reached into
the ice-cream freezer, pulled out two bars, paid for them, and signaled
to Mike and me.
“Let’s go for a walk, boys.”
We crossed the street, dodging a few cars, and walked across a
large grassy field where a few adults were playing softball. Sitting
down at a lone picnic table, he handed Mike and me the treats.
“How’s it going, boys?”
“Okay,” Mike said.
I nodded in agreement.
“Learn anything yet?” rich dad asked.
Mike and I looked at each other, shrugged our shoulders, and
shook our heads in unison.
Avoiding One of Life’s Biggest Traps
“Well, you boys had better start thinking. You’re staring at one of
life’s biggest lessons. If you learn it, you’ll enjoy a life of great freedom
and security. If you don’t, you’ll wind up like Mrs. Martin and most of
the people playing softball in this park. They work very hard for little
money, clinging to the illusion of job security and looking forward to a
three-week vacation each year and maybe a skimpy pension after fortyfive
years of service. If that excites you, I’ll give you a raise to 25 cents
“But these are good hardworking people. Are you making fun of
them?” I demanded.
A smile came over rich dad’s face.
“Mrs. Martin is like a mother to me. I would never be that cruel.
I may sound unkind because I’m doing my best to point something out
to the two of you. I want to expand your point of view so you can see
something most people never have the benefit of seeing because their
vision is too narrow. Most people never see the trap they are in.”
Mike and I sat there, uncertain of his message. He sounded cruel,
yet we could sense he was trying to drive home a point.
With a smile, rich dad said, “Doesn’t that 25 cents an hour sound
good? Doesn’t it make your heart beat a little faster?”
I shook my head no, but it really did. Twenty-five cents an hour
would be big bucks to me.
“Okay, I’ll pay you a dollar an hour,” rich dad said, with a sly grin.
Now my heart started to race. My brain was screaming, “Take it.
Take it.” I could not believe what I was hearing. Still, I said nothing.
“Okay, two dollars an hour.”
My little brain and heart nearly exploded. After all, it was 1956
and being paid $2 an hour would have made me the richest kid in
the world. I couldn’t imagine earning that kind of money. I wanted to
say yes. I wanted the deal. I could picture a new bicycle, new baseball
glove, and the adoration of my friends when I flashed some cash.
On top of that, Jimmy and his rich friends could never call me poor
again. But somehow my mouth stayed shut.
The ice cream had melted and was running down my hand. Rich
dad was looking at two boys staring back at him, eyes wide open and
brains empty. He was testing us, and he knew there was a part of our…..to be continued