Assets vs Liabilities

Learning the difference between assets vs liabilities was a paradigm shift for us. You hear the advice that you should buy a lot of assets in order to increase your wealth. That's great news because who wouldn't want a home, a car, and a boat?

So, before my wife and I got married, we signed for a house and we already had two cars. All we needed was a boat.

This is what we were taught growing up. If you ask an accountant or a banker to illustrate your balance sheet, here's what he or she would probably show you:

Balance Sheet
AssetLiability
Home
Car
Boat
Credit Cards
IOUs
College Loans


The irony here is that if accumulating these things are good, then how come they seem to cripple people financially? The issue here is that what we were taught was incorrect. They are liabilities.

After reading the book Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki, we learned that if you ask the rich to illustrate a balance sheet with the same items above, they'd show you this:

Balance Sheet
AssetLiability
Credit Cards
IOUs
College Loans
Home
Car
Boat


Notice the red items. What once were wealth builders in our mind has shifted over to be liabilities. This is an "unconventional" way of defining the two. Yet, the distinction is simple.

Assets put money into your pocket. Liabilities take money out.

So let's take your home for instance. The mortgage on the home is the liability. Even if you are trying to pay off your mortgage early, money is leaving your pocket. You receive no income from your home. This is why it is a liability.

But then the question arises, "What if I pay off my mortgage?" Sorry, it's still a liability because you still have to pay property taxes and maintenance. Money is still leaving your wallet. You either have to sell your house or refinance to receive any cash.

"The fact is, when a banker tells you your house is an asset, they are not really lying to you. They're just not telling you the whole truth."

-Robert Kiyosaki



Now, if you have a property that you are renting out and the monthly rent produces positive cashflow (money leftover after the expenses are paid, like the mortgage), then the property is no longer a liability. It's putting money into your pocket.

My wife and I have a real estate property in Tennessee. After the expenses of the mortgage, taxes, insurance, and property management are paid, we have a positive cashflow of $45. It may not look like much, but come tax time, we can depreciate this investment and take other tax deductions (great tax saving tips).




What about your savings account?

Your savings account is earning you interest. So, on your bank's balance sheet, it's a liability to them. But, how do banks make money? They turn around and lend it right out.

Although you are earning interest, remember that it may not be keeping up with the rate of inflation (learn the time value of money). This can be eroding your wealth. Now, I'm not saying that it's bad to have a savings account or an emergency fund. But, just consider the fact that it may be taking money out of your pocket.

So what's the goal here?

The goal is to have enough positive cashflowing investments to generate enough income to cover your expenses. When this occurs, you can choose to either leave your current occupation or stay.

Your investments could be on autopilot, with little or not involvement from you. This is financial freedom.

Of course, it all begins with a little education on assets vs liabilities.

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