Before I can really go into the details of my unpleasant “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” experience, it would probably be beneficial to go back in time a little bit, to explain how I ended up in this situation.
Whenever I graduated from high school, I enlisted in the U.S. Navy. I had actually enlisted in the Navy during my summer vacation from school between my junior and senior years of high school through their Delayed Entry Program. I could enlist in the Navy, complete my senior year of high school, and then enter the Navy after graduation. This is what I chose to do.
Unfortunately, my Navy career came to a very short end whenever I began having serious knee pain. After about a month of trying to get my knee to heal, I was released from the Navy after only two months of service. I was informed by the Navy personnel that I could re-enlist once my knee healed. This is what I had planned on doing, until I learned that I had hypertension.
With no chance of a military career, I had no choice but to find another line of work. I tried working at several factories, a beer distributor, a construction company, and finally, Bailey Marine Construction, where I am currently employed. I was nineteen whenever I began working at Bailey Marine Construction.
I should also point out that I was not very good at handling my money. I would get my paycheck on Friday, go to the mall or some other place with some friends on the weekends, spend every cent that I earned, and literally be broke by Saturday afternoon. I was young and still living with my parents, who told me that I didn’t have to be in any hurry to leave the nest, and that I could stay with them as long as I wished. With this being said, I decided to live with my parents, and have my fun while I was still young. I had no interest in saving money or trying to plan ahead. After all, I am still young; retirement is decades away! I’ve got plenty of time to worry about retirement. Besides, I can start collecting a Social Security check whenever I turn 65. I’m in good shape. This was literally the way that I thought as a twenty-something year-old young adult.
Then it should come as no surprise that this way of thinking got me in very deep trouble financially! Eventually, I found myself in a lot of debt! I applied for and received a Discover credit card back in 1996. My intentions were to only use the credit card to buy football tickets and rent hotel rooms.
But then life happened. One day, my truck broke down on the way home from work. I had no money to pay the wrecker service, so I charged the expense on the credit card. Over time, I eventually owed almost $9,000.00 to Discover! I also owed over $500.00 to my local bank for overdraft fees. I had financed three trucks over a span of five years, and had gotten myself mixed up in the payday lender trap. I was going nowhere fast. Eventually, I started getting behind on my debt payments; so much so that my creditors began calling me, demanding that I pay them what I owed. One creditor even called my employer at his home, and asked that he start deducting what I owed them out of my paycheck! By the time that I was 35, I was probably over $40,000.00 in debt, with no savings, no retirement investments, and seemingly no relief in sight!
I was tired of living my life this way. I knew that something had to change. However, at this point, I was still making unwise decisions. But one day, something happened that finally convinced me to change my financial ways once and for all---I had to watch my aging parents, who were 62 and 56 at this time, file for bankruptcy. I knew that I’d better change my ways, or I would be the next person filing for bankruptcy!
This is the situation that I found myself in whenever I learned for the first time about Robert Kiyosaki and his Rich Dad, Poor Dad series of books. I knew that I had to learn as much as I could about money and finances, and his was the first book that I happened to see on a shelf in an office supply store. I had heard of Robert Kiyosaki in the past, but I wasn’t really familiar with his teachings. I assumed that his book must have been legit, since an office supply store was selling it. Little did I know that this would turn out to be a very bad decision on my part!
I wanted to read everything that I could find on money, money problems, and how to solve them. I then consumed Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad, Poor Dad like it was life-saving waters. I eventually read about five more of his books and even convinced my sister to read the books as well.
One day, while visiting his website, I learned that he was going to be giving a “free” two-hour lecture in Jacksonville, Florida. At the time, this was the closest “free” lecture to us, so on an early Sunday morning, my sister and I embarked on a trip to Jacksonville to hear this lecture. I was led to believe that this lecture was supposed to teach you how to “put ‘Rich Dad’s’ teachings to work for you”.
Instead, it turned out to be nothing more than a sales pitch for a three-day real estate investing workshop, located in Jacksonville, Florida six weeks later. The cost of the real estate investing workshop was $995.00, but we were all told that for “today only”, we could buy this workshop for $495.00.
Looking back on this now, I should have known that something was wrong with this entire picture. But I didn’t. The speaker spent a majority of the time promoting the three-day workshop, and very little time revealing “the secrets of the rich” like we were promised. Even Gary, another attendee, tried to warn me in the lobby that they were going to try to sell me something. However, since my sister and I were now believers in Robert Kiyosaki and his teachings, we pushed this out of our minds and signed up for the three-day real estate investing workshop.
Whenever we returned home, we told all of our family and friends that we signed up for the workshop. Everyone tried to talk us out of going, but I refused to listen to them. After all, I had read so many of Robert Kiyosaki’s books. I was convinced that he was the real deal and that if my family and friends were so wise, then why weren’t they wealthy like this “wise” man? Even two people in the real estate business tried to warn my sister and I that this was a bunch of garbage. I almost considered not going to the three-day workshop after all of this, but after I had already paid my $495.00 to attend, I wasn’t about to back out now.
My sister and I counted the days until we could return to Jacksonville and learn so much knowledge and wisdom about real estate investing. We just knew that we were well on our way to financial freedom.
The first day of the three-day real estate investing workshop finally arrived. The workshop was held in a large banquet room of the hotel where my sister and I were staying. What an atmosphere! I just knew that this is going to be a pleasant experience, and that all of my family and friends were wrong about this!
The “instructor” was an Englishman, who came forward to introduce himself. He began by telling everyone in the room his story about how he had always dreamed of coming to America, and that one day, he just decided to come.
He then laid down the “rules” that were to be obeyed by all in attendance. Lateness would not be tolerated. If we were late, we were told that we would have to approach the microphone, introduce ourselves, and then apologize to everyone in the class for arriving late. Whenever the instructor first mentioned this, I thought that he was kidding. But he didn’t crack a smile. We were warned to stay away from the internet during the three days of this class. He also warned us that “negativity would not be tolerated” and that if they learned that if anyone was spreading “negativity” to the rest of the class, then they would be asked to leave the class. Ironically, not long after this, we had some late arrivals show up, and immediately the man interrupted the instructor, telling him that his ideas wouldn’t work. After lunch, he and his wife were immediately asked to leave the class. As I think back on this, I am now convinced that these people were “plants”, and were part of the scam.
Almost immediately, the instructor informed us that we couldn’t possibly learn everything that we needed to know about real estate investing in three days, and that we would need “additional training”. He also asked everyone to call their credit card companies during the lunch break, and try to get us all to get our credit limits raised as high as possible. The instructor claimed that this was in case we ever came across that “deal” that was too good to pass up, but you didn’t have the cash on hand. What do you do? You charge it to your credit card. I later learned the real reason that they wanted our limits raised.
For the rest of the day, the instructor provided very little useful information about real estate investing. If anything, he spent a majority of the time promoting the “additional training” classes and boasting about how wealthy he now was because he was a “successful real estate investor.” If someone would question him about the cost of the advanced training classes, he would tell them, “Don’t worry about the price”, or “The price is not important.” Or, he would simply ignore them altogether.
At the end of the first day, I was exhausted. All sorts of thoughts raced through my mind. A part of me was beginning to believe that my family and friends were right all along. Maybe this is a scam, like they tried to tell me. But surely, it can’t be, can it? After all, Robert Kiyosaki’s name is on this! I can trust him, can’t I? He would write in his books about helping out your fellow man and giving back to the community. In fact, the instructor and the rest of the staff made it clear to us that they are here to help us, when they could be out doing almost anything else with their millions that they earned in real estate investing. This wasn’t making any sense to me. I wanted to believe Robert Kiyosaki, and that this was a legitimate opportunity. But then, there was a part of my brain that was trying to tell me that this is a scam! It was as if my brain was fighting against itself.
It wasn’t until halfway through the second day of the workshop that the instructor finally dropped the bomb on us about the real cost of the advanced training courses. The price: $9,000.00 to $44,000.00!! And that was the “discount” price, available for the duration of the workshop only! If one waited until after the workshop was over to buy into the classes, the price then soared to $13,500.00 to almost $90,000.00!! Whoa!! I was literally sick to my stomach whenever the instructor made this announcement. I wanted to throw up!
You could have heard a pin dropping on the carpet whenever the instructor finally revealed the prices! He then asked the class if anyone wanted to register. No one moved or said a word. Since there were no takers, the instructor asked us all to stand up, take a deep breath, clear our minds, and to think with him for a moment. He then tried to paint a wonderful picture of how wealthy we will all become, but first, we have to pay for the classes! Oh, and the best part of all: they wouldn’t finance the cost of the classes, so it was up to us to come up with all of this money by the end of the third day!
Then, another member of the staff came forward, to tell us how we could raise this money. It was everything from borrowing the money from your family and friends, taking out a home equity loan on your home, raiding your IRA’s, 401(k)s, and retirement accounts, and---of course, charging the purchase to your credit cards! Now, this makes perfect sense! This is the real reason that they wanted us to get our credit card limits raised!
I felt so betrayed! I knew at this moment in time that I had made a terrible mistake by coming to this real estate investing workshop. I could already feel the knots developing in my stomach, as I was literally beginning to feel ill! What was worse, I had convinced my sister, a (then) single mother of two toddler boys, to come with me. Now, I had to go home and face my family and friends, and tell them that they were right all along.
If this wasn’t enough, the instructor and his staff tried to bully and manipulate everyone into signing up for the classes. They told everyone that, “only those that are serious about becoming wealthy will do whatever it takes to come up with the money for these classes”. We were told that those of us that didn’t register for the advanced training classes would be just as broke in two years as we are at this moment, while those that did buy into the training would be so much better off financially. They then tried to convince everyone that paying for these training classes was equivalent to getting a college degree!
They even went so far as to say that those of us that wouldn’t buy the advanced training classes were “losers” and “left-sided thinkers”…whatever that meant.
I was so glad whenever the second day of this three day workshop finally came to an end. By this time, I just wanted to be finished with this experience. After the class was over for the day, I disobeyed the instructor and went into the hotel lobby to get onto the internet. I decided to search for information on Wealth Intelligence Academy, the name of the “school” where you could take these “advanced training classes”. Just as I suspected, they had a negative rating with the Better Business Bureau. No wonder the “instructor” didn’t want us searching the internet! Gee, what a surprise!
I was so exhausted and so emotionally drained that I just wanted to pack up my suitcase, check out of the hotel, grab my sister, and go home! I just wanted this nightmare to be over with.
The morning of the third day of the workshop arrived. As I laid there in bed, I seriously contemplated not even attending the third and final day of the workshop. Unfortunately, I knew that my sister wanted to go for the final day, and I didn’t want my sister to face these crooks alone. So, I mustered up all of the remaining energy that I had, and made myself attend. I kept telling myself that this would all be over very soon.
Apparently, this experience began to have its effects on the other students as well. Like me, several of the students came straggling into the room, as if it took every last bit of energy that they had to do so. It was sad to look into the faces of everyone there, and watch as their hopes and dreams seemed to be crushed right in front of them. One student also confessed to violating the instructor’s rules; he went to Barnes and Noble and decided to search for all of the books on real estate investing that he could find. He told us all sitting at our table that we could probably do this ourselves, if we would just go to Barnes and Noble and buy the books, rather than spending tens of thousands of dollars on these “training courses”.
The third day was nothing more than one final attempt to pressure everyone else that hadn’t registered for the “advanced training” to do so. We were all instructed to meet with the “Success Team” in the back of the room before we left the workshop. I was actually looking forward to this, because I had been told whenever I paid for the three-day workshop that the “Success Team” would help you with your five-year goals, and to work out a plan with you to help you accomplish them.
This was not the case. Instead, all that we were asked was if we were interested in the “advanced training”. Whenever my sister and I told them that we were interested, but that we didn’t have that kind of money, they couldn’t get rid of us fast enough! As far as they were concerned, their meeting with us was over! Whenever I asked them about my five-year goals and about creating a game plan to make this all happen, one of the team members told me that they didn’t have time to go over a game plan with me. Funny, since they had all of the time in the world to promote their so-called “advanced training courses”.
While my sister and I were in Jacksonville, we learned that a similar “free” lecture would be coming to Savannah, Georgia in the near future. We then decided that maybe we could attend the Savannah workshop also. Despite all that we had seen and heard, these people made the rewards sound so great, that we were still tempted to buy into this garbage, even though I knew in the back of my mind that this was a bunch of crap! Whenever I mentioned to the “Success Team” that my sister and I might attend the Savannah workshop as well, we were then told that this was a “once in a lifetime offer”, and that if we didn’t take advantage of this “wonderful opportunity” right now today, then we would forever lose our opportunity to do so in the future. This concluded our meeting with this “Success Team”.
Finally, the instructor asked everyone that didn’t purchase the “advanced training courses” to leave the room, while he worked with the “winners” that had. After three, long exhausting days, the workshop was finally over!
Even as the three-day workshop was finally winding down, millions of thoughts were still racing through my mind. A part of me felt as if I had allowed a great opportunity to slip through my fingers, while another part knew that I had been lied to and was finally glad that the experience was finally over! Before returning home to South Carolina, we decided to stay in Jacksonville one more night.
Believe it or not, the day after the workshop ended was actually the most pleasant day of them all! Now, we had to return to South Carolina, and face everyone that tried to tell us that this was a scam and for us not to waste our time.
As I was driving back to South Carolina that morning, I replayed in my mind the events of the past three days of the workshop. The more that I thought about this, the angrier I became. It was as if I was finally seeing for the first time what these people were trying to do to my sister and I, as well as everyone else that attended the three-day real estate investing workshop.
For starters, the workshop was so faced paced that you didn’t have time to think about anything that you “learned” before they moved on to another topic. Whenever they did discuss a real estate topic, they didn’t give you enough information on that topic to actually go out and make such a deal. For example, if they were talking about buying foreclosures, they would tell you a little about them, but not give you enough information to actually go out and buy a foreclosure. Well, I didn’t feel as if I had enough information anyway.
After I returned home, I gathered up all of Robert Kiyosaki’s books and hauled them to the trash! I thought about trying to resell them on eBay or donating them to the library, but I didn’t want anyone else to have the same negative experience that my sister and I had.
I then contacted my local news station and shared with them my experience, because I knew that these same people were coming to Savannah in the very near future. I even talked with Don Logana on the telephone, who wanted me to come to the TV station and be interviewed by him. Unfortunately, this never materialized because after talking to the Better Business Bureau, Don was told that this wasn’t really a scam! I also logged onto 98.7 The River’s website, and posted my experience on their blog. Since then, I have made this my personal crusade to dissuade others into attending these so-called “free” lectures and seminars. I went onto the internet and posted my “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” experience on every blog and website that I could post it on. I can’t believe that I was ever this naïve.
Fortunately, this story does have a happy ending for me. It was while I was exploring the internet and posting my story on all of these blogs and websites that I “accidentally” discovered Dave Ramsey and his teachings. I read Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover, Financial Peace, and More Than Enough. In February of 2009, I began taking Financial Peace University at Savannah Christian Church. On July 11, 2009, I became debt-free for the first time ever in my working life! And I am also happy to report that these Rich Dad fools were wrong: I was not broke two years later for not having attended their so-called “advanced training courses”. In fact, since following Dave Ramsey and his Financial Peace principles, I am better off financially for the first time ever in my life! I am not where I need to be for someone of my age, but thankfully, I am not where I was. Thank the LORD that I didn’t fall for this “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” nonsense!