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Celebrity Q&A
Ben Stein
Making it to Boardwalk
"Rich Dad" author Robert Kiyosaki believes all of life's (financial) lessons are mirrored by the game of Monopoly.
Celebrity interview

Invest in your education

How do you see America as a two-class society? What are the forces producing such a disparity between wealth and poverty? How will this affect retirees?

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Those are very good questions because we used to have three classes, now we only have two classes -- rich --and everybody else. And that's why Donald Trump and I wrote a book, "Why We Want You to Be Rich" -- because the middle class is being wiped out. And what Donald and I are saying, again it goes back to a problem in our educational system not teaching people about money. So we have jobs moving overseas, as we know wages remain flat, but the price of oil has gone from $10 a barrel in 1997 to over $80 in 2007. That's an 800 percent increase in price. Our wages have not gone up 800 percent. I think that's really what's causing the problem, our wages are not keeping up with global commodities.

One key component of your take on real estate is the word "appreciation." Could you explain your criticism of home flipping and why you put appreciation last on your list of advantages?

People flip because of appreciation. In stocks it's called trading a stock. In real estate it's called a flip. It goes back to the basics of investing -- you either invest for cash flow or you invest for capital gains. If you invest for capital gains in real estate, you're a flipper. If you invest for capital gains for a stock, you're a flipper. In other words, say you buy Dell at $10 and it goes to $20, so you sell it.

Professionals invest for both capital gains as well as cash flow and the amateurs invest for capital gains only. They'll say the equity in my home is $1 million or my stock went up $10 -- big deal. That's capital gains, that's not cash flow. If you can play it for both, you actually have a lower risk and a higher rate of return.

What is the single best piece of advice you have to give someone who is poised on the brink of retirement -- especially someone who is in that 80 percent of those not financially prepared for it?

Your best asset is really your brain, and if you haven't educated it, then you've underused your best asset. I would be very concerned with this idea of saving money. The purchasing power of your dollar is going down and when the Federal Reserve reduces the interest rate, that means the interest on the revenue you receive from your savings goes down. Today you really have to learn how to invest. Let's say bread is $3 a loaf today and in 10 years it might be $8 a loaf. You've really got to start thinking in that kind of financial environment simply because the U.S. dollar is going to keep dropping. Americans who are holding dollars are in very big trouble.

I would really invest in getting some degree of financial education. If you're over 60, I don't think the idea of investing for long term is a reality. I would probably look at starting some business on the Web, something that is minimal physical output and you can learn how to buy and sell stuff on the Web. Hopefully that will keep you alive with the cash flow.

Any other predictions on what retirement will mean to the millions of boomers with their toe in the door?

The U.S. is technically bankrupt. Social Security and Medicare are in debt to the tune of $73 trillion and there is no way, absolutely no way they can cover their obligations. The idea of government taking care of you is really obsolete.

What is the biggest investment opportunity you see today?

Investing in silver. You go down to the coin store and buy U.S. silver dollars. Silver is a good investment because it's a consumable industrial metal as well as a form of money, so you've got two markets. There are only 300 million ounces of silver in the world -- that's a 15-year supply. It's less than oil. And silver is used in every cell phone, computer, television set and electronic gadget going. I think silver is the biggest opportunity for the little guy. Right now it's about $15 an ounce and they expect it to go past $100 to $200 an ounce. That's speculation, but it's pretty secure because you're still buying money. It's not like buying stock or a piece of real estate. That's its real beauty.

Bankrate.com's corrections policy -- Posted: Nov. 9, 2007
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