Don't Believe Everything You Read in Get-Rich-Fast Books

Robert Kiyosaki, says he went from bankrupt homeless person at 38 to retired multimillionaire at 47. His story has inspired me to start writing a paperback telling fatties they should eat more chocolate and watch more TV if they want to look like supermodels.

The success of the Rich Dad, Poor Dad franchise shows that a book titled Making Money Is Extremely Hard Work just won’t sell. This may be why most of the books I recommended have to be ordered while you’re bound to find Kiyosaki’s paperbacks in your CNA.

Kiyosaki – now 63 and still scribbling away suspiciously much for a supposedly retired tycoon – tells stories about how his hard-working university graduate dad ended up poor while the high school drop-out dad of the kid next door became rich.

It is enjoyable fiction, unfortunately pretending to be fact. Much of Kiyosaki’s advice is extremely dangerous, especially for the lazy, uneducated market at which it is pitched.

Wall Street Journal personal finance writer Jonathan Clements kicked off his review Rich Men, Poor Advice: Their Book Is Hot, But Their Financial Tips Aren’t: “My entire career has been a pathetic waste of time. Or so Igather from Robert Kiyosaki and Donald Trump.

“You know all those articles I have written about saving diligently and buying mutual funds? This ‘may be good advice for the poor and middle class, it is not good advice for people who want to become rich,’ according to Why We Want You to Be Rich, the new book from Messrs Kiyosaki and Trump.

Clements concludes: “Don’t rush to dump your funds quite yet.”

Another harsh critic of Kiyosaki and Trump is rival business book writer John T Reed, whose website has a comprehensive “BS detection checklist”.

Kiyosaki gets flagged in 17 out of 55 warning signs that we are dealing with an obvious “BS artist”.

Reed suspects Kiyosaki’s “rich dad” is fictional. No-one who grew up in the same area of Hawaii has any idea who he might have been.

Surprisingly, his research into one of Kiyosaki’s tallest-sounding tales – that he was a Marine helicopter pilot in Vietnam – reveals that the story is at least partially true.

Though Kiyosaki transferred from the merchant marine to the fighting Marines without going through the notorious boot camp, the US Marines still boast of Kiyosaki on their list of famous alumni – something that enrages fellow Vietnam veteran Reed, since Kiyosaki claims to be a deserter.

Kiyosaki wrote that after aiming at an unarmed child and starting to pull the trigger, “I put my gun away that day forever. I committed myself to finding new ways of doing things, instead of simply responding to what I’d been told to do by a person who supposedly had more authority than I.”

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West Point graduate Reed is understandably offended by Kiyosaki’s statement that shooting unarmed children “was the code of war we were taught as military officers” .

Even if Kiyosaki’s claim to be a brave rebel against military authority is codswallop (if he really deserted, why did he get an honourable discharge?), it would be harmless if it were not propaganda for multilevel-marketing (MLM) schemes.

“Over time, I have received numerous reports that Kiyosaki is primarily a creature of Amway (now Quixtar) and other multilevel marketing organisations,” Reed wrote on his website. “Reportedly, his books were not selling until he allied himself with that crowd. Then the volume of sales to those MLM guys made him a ‘best-selling author,’ which caused normal non-MLM people to think the book must be good.”

So a reason to be “scared to go to the basics, Rich Dad, Poor Dad books” is they have prompted countless gullible people to chuck in their day jobs – rebel against that awful authority of nine-to-five in the cubicle farm – to pursue their dream of owning a Rolex watch like Kiyosaki’s by selling Amway products.