How Savings Saved My Husband and Me

When I first read Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad, Poor Dad, I thought, “Yeah, right. I’m going to go out and buy real estate and use that money to build a financial empire. And then I’m going to strap on some wings and fly to the moon.”

I knew he was right about the dangers of depending on a paycheck, but my husband had a good job and I was recovering from a long and debilitating illness. So I donated my copy to the book to the library and continued socking away money in the bank.

And it’s a good thing I did, because by the time my husband’s job disappeared, I’d saved enough to cover our expenses for a full year. I’d seen the trouble coming – we live in metro Detroit and the small start-up he worked for was closely tied to Ford. So as soon as I heard that Ford and GM had been downgraded to junk-bond status, I knew it was just a matter of time until his company got into trouble.

Now it’s almost a year later, and thanks to some freelancing, we’ve used less than half of our savings. But the economy here is getting worse every day, and the freelancing dried up last March.

So what do we do now?

My husband is working at a low-paying job in retail, as much to get out into the world as for the money. And I, having just about recovered from my illness, am starting a business. I’m writing ebooks and I’ve found a partner who knows how to market them on the web. And once I get enough money from the ebooks, I’m going to start investing in more solid assets with passive income, beginning with Treasuries.

Kiyosaki doesn’t like saving – he thinks it’s a slow way to develop assets. I, on the other hand, agree with Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin, who wrote Your Money or Your Life. That book is about figuring out what’s enough for you to be comfortable (it’s a lot less than you may think), and then socking away the money you’re not spending in Treasuries until you’re earning enough interest to cover your expenses.

But that’s not going to be enough for me. I’ve been reading several more of Kiyosaki’s books, and I’m starting to understand the way he thinks. I’ve never been a good employee, since I always want to do things my way. And now that I’m living in an economy that’s creating more opportunities with every job it destroys, I’m finally in my element.

Kiyosaki is absolutely right when he says that the folks who are trying to play it safe with a paycheck and retirement accounts are actually putting themselves at risk. We’re turning into a freelance and contract nation, and the solid jobs are melting away faster than ice on hot asphalt. And since most retirement accounts are forced into stocks and mutual funds, we have almost no control over our money. We’ve heard enough stories about the devastated folks at Enron and WorldCom to know that our retirement accounts could become just about worthless by the time we’re ready to use them.

We all need to start thinking like entrepreneurs. We need to exercise control over our money by paying close attention to how we spend it and constantly looking for new ways to earn it. We need to force ourselves to look clearly at the world we live in and the changes that are coming. And then we need to keep changing ourselves to stay alive.

There is no safety. For about fifty years – 1950-2000 – we lived with a lovely and paralyzing illusion. But the stock market crashes and 9/11 and the war in Iraq and our worsening economy destroyed it. And if we’re smart, we’ll use the pain of losing that impossible paradise to build a sturdier, more realistic world.

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