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Keys to personal financial freedom --Sharon Lechter provides useful insights

By: Elizabeth Nyaadu Adu
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Sharon Lechter, co-author (with Robert Kiyosaki) of ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad.’
Sharon Lechter, co-author (with Robert Kiyosaki) of ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad.’

When someone writes a book that sells over 32 million copies in 51 languages across 109 countries and ends up on the New York Times bestsellers list for over six years, he or she is worth listening to over and over again.

In April 2012, Albert and Comfort Ocran interviewed Sharon Lechter, co-author (with Robert Kiyosaki) of ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad.’ The conversation focused on personal financial management. Among other things, she spoke about the family challenge that pushed her on this journey and ten principles which she described as very simple but far more difficult to practise.

Last Sunday, on Springboard, on Joy FM,  the full interview was aired. Below are excerpts.

Question : How did it start?

Answer : Well actually, my background is accounting so l grew up with the concept of understanding money. It was when my older son went to college at the age of 18 and he ended up getting himself in a credit card debt.
I was so devastated, I was more angry with myself than him, I was also pretty mad at him. I realised he was with me while I used my credit card, he wasn't with me when I paid them off every month.

He went to college and got enticed with all these college life; even though I had taught him about money in school but I hadn't taught him about the difference between bad debt and food debt and understanding the importance of staying out of debt.

That was when I really dedicated the rest of my professional career to financial education, creating tools that are recordable that help people in their financial lives not only for themselves, but for their families.

What is the situation like?
It is global , no matter where I go, what country or geographical location,  or languages been spoken, we have a global issue of not teaching our children about money. We have an issue about parents wanting their children to be successful and so it is an issue that we need to deal with around the globe because exactly as you just said, it is a life skill.

It does not matter whether you are the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) or the secretary , the janitor or entrepreneur, we all have to deal with money and we are not being taught these important skills and once we start doing that, we will continue having these problems.

On ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’
Over 30 million copies sold, in over 50 languages and it has been sold in over 100 countries. Yes it has been a real blessing,  the explosion of that growth was not because of us ,but because people like yourself read it and found value and shared it with their friends. And when people shared it, it became popular and that is the part that is so important. We understand that we are responsible for helping ourselves and helping those we care about.

Ten tips to personal financial management
1. Spend less than you earn and 'invest the rest' 
It's not what you do for your pay cheque that matters, most people say I need a different job, it's how much you do for your pay cheque that is what you do with your pay cheque. Your future is determined by the choices you make when you receive your pay cheque. Are you going to spend it all or are you going to spend some of it and invest the rest?.

2. It's not what you do for your pay cheque but what you do with your pay cheque: and this happens a lot, people end up going to get a bigger house, a new car, or they get a big screen TV so they spend their living expenses to exceed their salary.

3. Understanding your wants versus your needs. And so take a moment and think about what it is that you truly need to live. And when you get that promotion, maybe instead of getting that bigger house or getting that new car, wait and use that promotion and raise in new salary to start an investment instead of spending it.

4. Goal setting ; whether you are a parent or looking at your child you think you have not raised them properly but for your own personal finances, set a goal. And say it, instead of saying it and that is the next point.

5.Dont say, I can't afford it, say how can I afford that? Set a long-term goal and then set smaller ones. Achieving the small goal gives you the impetus or motivation to go after the bigger ones. Don’t let fear paralyse you. Instead, let fear motivate you to keep going because a large mountain as it is achieved begins to look smaller.

6.  Has your money worked for you? Understand that money is a tool, money can help you create your future if you have it in your asset column and so you want to start investing, even if it is a small amount. So set an automatic payment plan, so every time you get paid,  pay yourself first, making sure that you start setting a small amount aside, creating an emergency fund.

7. Understanding the difference between assets and liabilities.  Assets put money in your pocket. Liabilities take money away from you. The same thing can either be an asset or liability. A car bought on credit can be an asset as a taxi, Uber or if it’s working for you but a liability if it’s just for fancy usage.

8. The two minutes rule: this has to do with the impulse buyers,  when they see something in the store they want to buy it, so l ask myself, for instance, when I go into a store to buy a blouse, I end up getting three or four. So when I go to the store and I see something I want that is not on my list, I walk away from it for two minutes then I say is this really a want or a need? If I allow myself that space of time it gets rid of the emotion.

9. Personal success equation: It is taking up passion which could be something that you love or something that makes you angry and combining it with your talent. Thinking about things that you are good at. For me, it was the fact that I was in the financial world to begin with and I had a publishing background so I was able to combine that with my passion about financial literacy, writing books and creating tools to help people and teach them about making money.

10. Add value to someone else; give back: This is my definition of success. Many people think success is determined by how much money you have in your bank account. And each and every day we have the opportunity to give back and you may not have a lot of money but you can give your time, help a friend in need, add value to the lives around you and by doing that, you will actually see rewards come back in 10 folds.