How to be financially literate

Bernard Ng

The key to riches is to become financially literate. That seems to one of the messages I got from Robert Kiyosaki’s “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”.

Although financially literate does not automatically guarantee that you will be rich, the lack of financial knowledge does guarantee that you are unlikely to reach your financial success. Being financially literate will definitely help in making better judgment in your decision making, and thus enhance your chance and make the path to your finance success smoother and swifter.

Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad in “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”, understood this very well and tried to expose Kiyosaki to financial principles to build up his financial literacy at a young age.

Robert Kiyosaki described building wealth as like building a building. Both need strong foundation. While the foundation of a building is made cement and steel, the foundation of wealth building is financial literacy. If you are going to build a 80 storey building, you need to dig deep and pour in a strong foundation. Similarly, if you want to build wealth and hold on to them, you need a strong foundation in financial literacy. If not, it would like trying to build a 80 storey building on 8 inch slab, and ended up with a learning tower of debt.

To be financially literate requires certain level of proficiency in these areas such as:

  • Accounting
  • Taxes
  • Economics
  • Investing
  • Money management
  • and even business building.

All these are not easy subjects to master and do require some time and effort to accumulate the knowledge. However, it is not next to impossible. Do not be sacred off by the level of difficulty in mastering them. It’s possible if you choose to do so.

Start off with something simple or something which you are familiar with. For instance, you might have heard of the term balance sheet or assets vs liabilities. Start from there, dig more into them and they will lead to you to other subjects area. Proceed to learn at your own pace through the subject materials and soon you will be amazed at how much knowledge you have picked up.

Do not worry if you used to not do well as a student in school. School grades do not matter. Do not worry that Robert Kiyosaki started his financial literacy education since the age of 9 but you are way pass your prime. Your age does not matter. Do worry that your financial situation. It does not matter. Colonel Sanders was 66 and broke when he started Kentucky Fried Chicken. Do not worry if the 12 year old kid next door has more knowledge about investing than you. (He might be collecting limited edition Star Wars action figures and reselling them at double the price after 3 months!) What really matters is whether you have the desire and the willingness to learn and educate yourself constantly.

How can you go about becoming financially literate?

You do so by opening your eyes and ears and also your mind to information surrounding you. Your learning materials do not only include financial subject textbooks or formal educational courses from institutions. They can be seminars or talks organized by community services or financial organizations.

They can be financial books and periodicals found in the libraries or your local bookstores. They can be the financial magazines like Forbes, Business Weeks and newspapers such as Wall Street Journal. They can be the business page or money page on your local newspaper.

They can be financial news broadcasts on the radio or TV. They can even be the conversations between your colleagues or the 12 year old kid next door, talking about his investment on his Star Wars action figures! And of course, not forgetting the Internet, where you can easily get tons of information, both from authority sites as well as from personal sites.

And if you truly want to accelerate your process in acquiring financial literacy, you can look for a mentor. Look for someone who is successful that can dispense timely advices based on the experiences he had. Someone who had gone down the path and someone whom you think you can model after.

Lastly, remember to learn and apply. Financial literacy has no value if you don’t put it to good use.

Bernard Ng keeps a blog "Wisdom of Rich Dad" at where he talks about the teachings and principles from Robert Kiyosaki’s books such as "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" and "Cashflow Quadrants".
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