Kiyosaki, like Suze Orman are two frequent columnists at Yahoo! Finance that I regularly read. Even though I read their ramblings I generally do not entirely agree with them. Whether it is a conflict of interest (online or off), tone or simply advice that is overly generic, something is typically amiss. On Monday when I saw Mr. Kiyosaki had updated his column I clicked through expecting to see some rhetoric as to how his father made him rich or why the poor deserve to be poor. Instead I was pleased to find something that was actually worth reading: the lack of financial education for children.
That problem is a lack of financial education. Why don’t we teach kids about money in school? Rich or poor, smart or not-so-smart, we all use money. Yet, while there are a few schools beginning to offer some financial education, it seems that most educators believe money isn’t a subject worthy of the hallowed halls of our learning institutions.
It is true, there is virtually no formal financial education in our school systems. Most education comes in the form of a very broad overview of economics. Granted, understanding how the economy works is important, but it is also very dry and has little to do with personal finances. Ask any student in high school how a mortgage works or what the APR on a loan or credit card actually means and you would likely be faced with a blank stare. They might be able to recite every bone in the human body or ask where the bathroom is in Spanish but couldn’t explain what a credit score is or how compound interest works.
Kiyosaki goes on for a bit about the history of debt in this country but he finishes up with some important observations. First, debt is not necessarily a bad thing. Debt is simply the leverage of using other people’s money. Wall Street does it, people who buy homes do it, it can be a great wealth building tool. The root of the problem is not with debt itself, it is that people don’t use debt as a tool for financial gain. Instead they use debt because they fail to grasp the consequences of using it improperly.
But their problem isn’t credit cards — it’s a lack of financial know-how. And at the root of that lack of knowledge is our school system and its archaic curriculum, which is out of touch with the way people really live.
Clearly, advising people to cut up their credit cards won’t solve the problem of excessive credit card debt. A pair of scissors won’t make anyone financially smarter, but some financial education just might.
So while I rarely comment on many of the finance pundits because of the points I mentioned above I found this installment of Why the Rich Get Richer actually had some value. If the schools fail to educate our children it is up to the parents. Lead by example and ensure your children are on the path to financial independence from day one.
Author: Jeremy Vohwinkle
My name is Jeremy Vohwinkle, and I’ve spent a number of years working in the finance industry providing financial advice to regular investors and those participating in employer-sponsored retirement plans.