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Guides to getting rich often prove worthless

Update: October, 27/2013 - 16:48

by Trung Hieu - Thuy Ha

People have an eternal desire to get rich.

Books about how to make quick money have appeared on shelves in recent years like mushrooms after rain. Written for young people including university students and even high school students, they often sell like hot cakes. But is it possible to turn the dream they promote into reality?

After reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki, Luong Anh understood why her parents were always fatigued: they had to think constantly about money.

"If I cannot escape from that vicious cycle, my future will not be better than theirs," Anh thought aloud.

The more she read, the more she got angry with herself, feeling she had spent too much time learning useless things. She had been focusing on studying the skills of an employee and how to enrich others; she had spent no time thinking about making money on her own.

At that time, she worked at a government agency and made barely minimum wage.

"On my way to work and back home, while I was at work, even when I slept, I thought about how to 'make money give birth to more cash' and 'force money to serve me'," she says.

When Anh found the book Secrets of the Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Eker, it encouraged her more. She declared to her family that she would quit her job to become an entrepreneur.

Her parents felt shocked that their daughter, who was trained in languages, suddenly wanted to turn to business. But despite opposition from her family, Anh decided to make her dream come true.

The four walls of her room are covered with plans to trade teenagers' clothing, open a restaurant serving countryside food and open a milk shop. She has painted statements like "I want to be rich" on the wall.

While Anh's moneymaking projects remain on paper, Quy Long has already acted.

"Money and happiness are here!" he screamed after reading the bestseller How to Make Money in Stocks by William J. O'Neil.

As a student, Long started skipping school every day to watch the security markets and observe others buying and selling stocks.

Following advice from the book, Long did not want to wait until leaving school to invest, so he begged his parents to sell their fish pond so he could use the money to invest in securities. His parents were persuaded and Long was very confident, as he had studied at the University of Foreign Trade for three years and read many books about investment.

Suddenly Viet Nam's stock market reversed and fell sharply, a downtrend that extended until the following year. Watching his account evaporate, Long felt sick.

He had to sell his motorcycle and laptop and even borrow from his family to buy stocks at average price in an attempt to break even.

But the prices kept falling and Long was badly in debt. As his mind became panicked, Long gazed at his bedside books - the cause of his downfall.

Books about getting rich overwhelm bookstores and are exhibited in the most eye-catching places. On the internet there are many forums set up to discuss the good and great points of these books.

The industry is all about promotion, with fascinating introductions, eye-catching covers, advertisements on mass media such as interviews with celebrities who have read the book and applied its information and courses teaching people how to get rich.

But what about the young people who read them?

We can't deny that these books inspire readers to seek out wealth.

But their authors are mostly Americans writing about situations in the US.

Dang Minh Ngoc, a social researcher and self-declared bookworm, says readers should not take these books at face value.

"Take the famous book Rich Dad, Poor Dad. It's never been confirmed that the author has a rich dad in real life," she says.

"Moreover, if you carefully study many of these books, you can see that the authors' theories about how to get rich have many shortcomings. There's no one in the world or in the country who has declared, 'I got wealthy thanks to reading this book or that book.'"

The people who write these books are mostly speakers, who earn a fortune from speaking and writing about making money and describing how famous people get rich.

Hanoian psychologist Le Thi Tuy says reading books on how to get rich was like reading romantic novels in that they could lure you into thinking unrealistically.

"Above all, you need to have an objective attitude," Tuy says. "These books are actually just another product. The more compelling and convincing the books are, the more copies they can sell and the more money the authors can make."

But we can't blame the books entirely.

Young people have too many illusions about sudden wealth. After reading a book about how someone found glory and success, they race to get rich themselves, even though they have not accumulated enough knowledge and experience.

"Making money is a long process that involves many trials and failures. Through ups and downs, people discover their own paths. There's no generic formula for getting rich," social researcher Ngoc says.

Books have an important motivational function. But you could read these books time and again and still not become rich. If you cannot separate these ideas from reality, it might be time to put the book down. — VNS

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