'Rich Dad' author's advice falls flat as he hits financial trouble
"I love debt," personal finance guru Robert Kiyosaki declared a month before he tipped one of his companies into bankruptcy.
Mr Kiyosaki shot to prominence in 1994 with his book Rich Dad Poor Dad, which has apparently sold more than 26 million copies.
The Japanese-American is now a regular on the speaking circuit, television talk shows and has gone on to write 11 more books, including one with Donald Trump.
But in August his company Rich Global LLC, based in Scottsdale, Arizona, filed for bankruptcy in Wyoming.
That follows a court judgment in April ordering Rich Global to pay nearly $US24 million to Learning Annex and the promotions company's founder, Bill Zanker.
Mr Kiyosaki used Learning Annex to organise high-profile speaking engagements and the court decided it was entitled to a cut of the profits.
Savers are losers
In July, when the Rich Dad author must have known Rich Global's bankruptcy was looming, he shocked hundreds of investors at a Las Vegas convention with his blunt views.
He told Freedom Fest attendees that people who take advantage of cheap money, debt financing and tax shelters are the richest people in America.
On the flip side, those who save money, buy a home, pay off their debts and save for their retirement – "they are the losers", he says.
“They teach students to stay in school, get a degree, get a job, work hard, save money, buy a house, get out of debt and invest for the long run in the stock market."
He says this “safe” approach is the “worst advice”.
Such government dependence leaves you exposed should the market collapse or the government run out of money, he argues.
The United States is still counting the cost of the sub-prime mortgage crisis, which caused global financial turmoil.
And while there are signs of rebound, commentators warn the housing market is not in full blown recovery.
Half a billion in debt
This doesn't worry Mr Kiyosaki, however, who in July was still advocating his leverage message.
It turns out Mr Kiyosaki and his wife Kim are primarily property speculators who have more than 3500 rental units. They generate millions of dollars in rent each year, yet they owe little or no tax because of their debt.
"I love debt," he boasted in Las Vegas. "I have about half a billion dollars in debt.
“The government and the Fed punish savers and reward debtors."
Mr Kiyosaki's other investments include gold and silver, and especially oil, because of the tax credits.
“America is the biggest tax-free country in the world,” he boasted.
As one market analyst notes, you can be tax-free if you know how to play the game – but such a game is not for the faint-hearted.
Also, there is a cautionary note that most businesses fail and making money from real estate is not easy, otherwise everyone would be doing it.
A tale of living richly
Mr Kiyosaki's website bills Rich Dad Poor Dad as the No 1 personal finance book of all time.
His "poor dad" was his father – the highly-educated head of the Hawaiian school system.
He earned a decent salary but complained about being broke and how he couldn't afford things.
The "rich dad", the father of Mr Kiyosaki's best friend, dropped out of high school to build a business.
While he wasn't wealthy, he enjoyed the finer things in life and always asked, "How can I afford it?"
Both were good men, Mr Kiyosaki says, but only one lived richly.
Neither Mr Kiyosaki's Wyoming-based lawyer, Mark Macy, nor his PR company Plata Publishing replied to NBR ONLINE's requests for an interview.