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My Rich Dad. My Poor Dad.

rich dad poor dad

PoF: Personally, I’m more of a John Bogle guy than a Robert Kiyosaki guy, but I’ve heard if you can separate the wheat from the chaff, there are some valuable lessons to be learned in his books.

The most famous of his books is Rich Dad Poor Dad. He may have made one of them up, but I’m not here to debate that. I’m here to present you with a post from Passive Income MD in which he discusses his two Dads, making up neither one of them.

Do you have a rich dad and a poor dad? Two rich dads or two poor dads? This Saturday Selection originally appeared on Passive Income MD.

My Rich Dad, My Poor Dad


It’s no secret that I (PIMD) am a huge fan of Rich Dad, Poor Dad, a fantastic book by Robert Kiyosaki. It’s one of the best inspirational books on financial education I’ve come across. In fact, you can check out my review of the book here. The book mirrors my own life surprisingly well, and I felt an instant connection with a good amount of what the author said. Why, you ask?

My Family


It’s often debated whether Kiyosaki truly had a “rich” and “poor” dad and whether the whole story was made up. Well for me, it’s a true story. I have a prime case study in my own family – specifically, in the example of my father-in-law and my own father. These two father figures in my life are similar in many ways:

  • Both are physicians that finished their training in the late 1970’s.
  • Both have an extremely hard work ethic.
  • Both work in well-paid specialties.
  • Both were the sole breadwinners for their families.
  • Both are still married to their respective first wives.
  • Both have several children that they helped put through school.
  • Both love going on family vacations.


But there are a few ways in which they differ, mainly:

  • My own father never had a clear investment strategy for retirement, and definitely didn’t have a financial plan written at any point. He dabbled in the stock market, tried to pick individual stocks, and often took financial advice from his friends.
  • In contrast, while my wife’s father invested somewhat in the stock market as well, he put more of his money into direct ownership of real estate. He also stayed disciplined in his investing strategy.

Can you guess whom I consider my “Rich Dad” and who is my “Poor Dad?”

Well, honestly, neither is truly “poor.” Neither of their families has ever experienced what it is to go hungry and both my wife and I feel like we had amazing childhoods. We’re both extremely grateful for what our fathers and mothers have provided for us growing up. The word “poor,” then, is a relative term.

My Poor Dad


For our purposes, the title of “Poor Dad” falls to my own father for a couple different reasons:

  • Though approaching seventy years of age, he’s still working. He still enjoys his work, certainly, but he isn’t quite ready to stop because he’s not sure he’ll have enough to last throughout his retirement.
  • He truly trades time for money – Time In = Money Out.
  • He’s endured some level of financial stress throughout the last decade or so as he’s changed practices a few times.
  • He’s worried about being in another “bubble” and how a correction could affect his portfolio and retirement.


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My Rich Dad


By contrast, consider my Rich Dad:

He receives passive income from multiple rental properties—income that far exceeds his physician’s salary. Because of this, he works for the pure enjoyment of it and has been doing it this way for years, really decades. Needless to say, retirement income is not an issue for him.

  • He makes money in his sleep, definitely doesn’t trade time for money.
  • His only real concern is how he’ll pass along his real estate portfolio to his children
  • He is able to travel how often and how much he’d like and isn’t dependent on the income “lost” from not working.


rich dad poor dad


Obviously, there are a lot of nuances to the story, and it’s not entirely cut-and-dry. For one, my father didn’t invest in broadly diversified, low-cost index funds until much later in life. Rather, he invested in individual stocks and in particular, the “hot stocks,” made up the majority of his portfolio for the majority of his earning years.


How They Did In an Economic Downturn


I saw both of them go through the crash of 2008 and the recession that followed. I watched my poor dad sweat bullets as a huge portion of his portfolio and nest egg disappeared. In fact, he ended up selling some of it off as he felt the floor was falling from under him.

All of this while my rich dad continued to get checks every first of the month. He didn’t enjoy watching his portfolio’s value decrease as well, but he knew it really didn’t impact his life. He never sold and actually continued to contribute to his investments.

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Would You Rather Be Rich or Poor?


Rich Dad, Poor Dad has shaped my investment strategy into what it is today, especially as a doctor myself. Not just the book, either. My own family has provided an example of both ends of that spectrum. I’ve realized that monthly cash flow and investing discipline brings true security, both now and in the future. This monthly cash flow can be derived from real estate, business ventures, dividends from your portfolio, etc. Appreciation in value of any real estate or stock portfolio then become purely all gravy.

While our definitions may be relative, I can tell you from my own family experience that the right investments can truly make the difference between being “rich” and being “poor.”


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12 thoughts on “My Rich Dad. My Poor Dad.”

  1. Wow, your situation sounds like a real-life Dr. North, Dr. South parable from the “millionaire next door.”

  2. Subscribe to get more great content like this, an awesome spreadsheet, and more!
  3. Pretty good example. I think the biggest difference is the investment strategy. If your dad invested in good stocks and stuck with it, he probably would have done very well. The financial crisis set us back quite a bit, but we’ve recovered and thrived since. You have to be discipline and follow a clear strategy. Good luck to both your dads.

  4. Great comparison. It is amazing to see how a well thought out plan can affect multiple areas of one’s life and those around them. I have a rich dad and a poor dad as well and I have learned alot from them (both good and bad.)

  5. Hmmm… interesting how the already diversified portfolio Dr in addition to taking the early steps right was also able to NOT sell in the downturn AND still contribute during the sale. That’s taking 3 steps forward without actively taking any step back. Meanwhile the other Dr who made the 1st misstep step continued to do so during downturn and is now more concerned with financial health in the golden years. Given the ages of both Dr’s I’d be hesitant to suggest the rich Dad try to advise the poor Dad. It might be in the best interest for the smart son to help out at this point.

  6. I always think it’s funny when people talk about Rich Dad Poor Dad and point to whether or not the dads were real. I haven’t followed the “controversy” closely enough to know, nor do I care, because the core lessons he’s trying to pass along stand on their own. If he had just put “rich mentor, poor mentor” it would’ve held the same weight… but not sound as good. 🙂

    • Right – limiting parables to 100% fact would be rather boring! And I know nothing about the facts of his life, but it would be easy to argue that there are two close role models within one family that form the basis. I have a “rich dad” in my father in law and my brother, and a “poor dad” in my own father who pulled out a bunch of stocks in 2008 and is doing OK only because of his lifelong “work hard and save” mentality which allowed him to break his back for years to tread water.

  7. I’ve seen many approaches to allegedly achieving “financial independence” but I what I cannot figure out is age-adjusted and inflation-adjusted and future health status adjusted … what I should have saved for retirement.

    I have a LOT of 98 year olds! A lot. Some of them live in their own homes and manage fairly well.

    Please by all means tell me how long I’m going to live, what medications I’ll be taking and what they will cost… how many hip replacements, knee replacements, pacemakers, skin cancers removed …. tell me the same for my wife.

    My kids are about to graduate from college and I waaaaaay over saved and invested and calculated for their college needs. So I overshot that one which is good. They can each pay cash for their own homes if they want to or go on to graduate school. My son is going into the military hoping to be in combat. Will he return from a war zone with special needs or will he return fully intact?

    Will my kids marry and have kids?

    What about my elderly parents? What will they need over the remaining 10 or 20 years of their lives?

    I have hundreds and hundreds and hundreds or variables to think about.

    Whenever I speak to a “financial plannner” I feel like I’m speaking to an idiot thinker who reads from a template.

    I’ve also been disappointed with “retirement planners” who likewise think very linearly.

    Nobody can save like my Dad. It would be unimagable for him not to keep saving and keep his expenses always under his income all the way to the grave. Owe nobody nothing ever. Cash is king. Sometimes do without if in doubt.

    I have learned a few things.

    Keep at least a full year or two or three of operational cash at all times at the ready.

    Invest in Berkshire Hathaway. The two old men were old men when they were in their twenties. Young people are impulsive and inpatient. Never sell no matter what. If a mushroom cloud appears, the next day is the best possible day to deploy cash prudently but decisively.

    Don’t get sick. Never smoke or become overweight.

    Don’t get a divorce.

    Whenever the stock market goes down start thinking about buying when quality goes on sale. The market for whatever reason sells both low quality and high quality at the same time. I’ve never understand that.

    Trust no one else but yourself. Be skeptical of sceams and people who toot that they are making a fortune.

  8. Hi Pof! Great personal example of this book. I, on the other hand, came from a working-class family and my father, and my father in law also offer examples of how this advice applies. My father (who never even finished high school) began investing in real estate fairly early on at the urging of his wife (mom) and in spite of having 4 children lived a life of entrepreneurship (with a lot of freedom) and a very adequate income once he did retire. On the other hand, my father in law and his wife never even owned the home they lived in and while income was relatively stable from blue-collar jobs, they never managed to save much at all. After retirement, they lived on SS. Not something to strive for at all. But my father taught me that by living frugally and being creative a person could still do very well, retire when wanted and live happily. That’s why I tend to lean toward what I call a “rightsized” lifestyle rather than FIRE. Not all of us can or want to pursue a high-income profession and then sock away the money for a retirement early or late down the road. Rightsizing — at least to me– give me my best life now. Thanks for helping me clairfy that for myself. ~Kathy

  9. I loved the contrasting lives in Rich Dad/Poor Dad. It had an influence on my decision to follow two doctors through their lives in my book, The Doctors Guide to Starting Your Practice Right. I called them Dr. Timex and Dr. Rolex. You can imagine how their lives turned out.

    Rich Dad/Poor Dad also had an influence in my own life. I’m living off the cashflow I created by buying rental real estate. It covered my expences after only about 12 years.

    Thanks for the nice story.

    Dr. Cory S. Fawcett
    Prescription for Financial Success

  10. Thanks for sharing these real world examples bring so much more wisdom than anything you can get from elsewhere.
    Most people would never think that a 70 year old MD would be working because he has to and is worrying about money.
    I saw the same thing durning the last downturn my stocks and realeasate both went down but my rent checks never did.

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  12. Awesome comparisons of your “two Dads.” It is as close as we can get to a controlled study. I think I will use this as an example when teaching physicians. It clearly illustrates the role of choice and planning. It reminds me a bit of Dr. North and South in the MND but this is more about the role of investing than that of savings.
    I love Rob Kiyosaki’s (technically incorrect) definition of an asset as something that puts money in your pocket. Cash Flow is Key.

  13. All roads lead to cashflow.

    Mis-managing it is the number one reason most people are broke.

    Mastering it is the number one reason most people are rich.

    Great post! It’s interesting thinking about the two dads I now have, it’s clear that the thing that separates them both on the rich-poor spectrum is their attitudes to risk.

    My fairly rich dad (In comparison) has always dabbled and started a small business here and there. And so in retirement, that cashflow is still there and he isn’t depending on us (his children).

    Conversely, my other dad has never started a business nor invested. And today, he relies on his children in retirement.

    This is reality today and is driving my decisions in my 30s and how it will likely affect our children in years to come.


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