Review: How Come that Idiot’s Rich and I’m Not by Robert Shemin

How-Come-that-idiots-rich-and-Im-notOverview: This book teaches financial principles that can lead to wealth. It has several good ideas. However, it wastes your time in getting to those good ideas. More time is spent trying to sell the Robert Shemin brand (now called “Rich Idiot”) than in giving actual advice that can lead to wealth. I’m sure this is done by Shemin in an attempt to make more money through selling more books and other products.

Who will benefit most by reading this book: Those who have never saved or invested in anything and have always been skeptical of those who have, but now want to take their life in a different direction and so they’re now pursuing information about investment basics. Ideally these should be people who don’t think for themselves and like buying several products from the same place, regardless of their actual value.

How the rest of us can benefit: I wouldn’t read this book unless you’ve read several other books dealing with financial literacy. There are certainly good ideas contained therein but it isn’t worth wading through the garbage to get there.  Even then, if you’ve already read several good books on financial literacy than you probably don’t need this one.

Complete Review

I don’t like the book because there are 12 CDs that are used in the audio program, making in an extremely long program. However, there aren’t 12 hours worth of good information. Over half of the audio program is spent selling the Robert Shemin brand.

The Rich Idiot mindset . He claims that everything that you’ve ever learned about money is wrong and you need to completely change your mindset regarding wealth accumulation. His system, of course, is the right way to go about that. In truth he doesn’t tell you anything that is new or that isn’t covered in most other personal finance books. He doesn’t have innovative and new ideas, he simply repackages what is already out there, changes the names of a few financial principles, and calls it “the Rich Idiot way.”

Buying the Robert Shemin brand . His hidden agenda isn’t to give you a great hidden chapter at the end (he does this in all his books)… he is trying so hard to sell you on his brand because he has products that he wants you to buy. He repeatedly (not just in this book but in all his books) advertises the multi-level marketing company, Pre-Paid legal. He doesn’t send you to their website or an objective site telling you about their services but sends you to his website so that you can sign up through him (allowing him to take advantage of the referral bonus). That is perfectly fine if this was a service that could be useful to you but most people don’t need regular advice from a lawyer, so unless you’re already doing everything Shemin is advocating in his books this is a waste of money for you. The same could be said of becoming a travel agent and establishing a site through him (again, he gets the referral bonus and you get little by way of a useful service). He also has financial games and other books that he wants you to buy so he directs you to his website repeatedly throughout the book so you can order them.

Talking about time. Shemin accurately talks about becoming truly wealthy by freeing up more time. He discusses the benefits of having more time but insinuates that you will become wealthy if you spend less time working. This doesn’t make any sense. While it is true that working less allows you more time for the most important things, most people can’t simple stop working.

He advocates starting a business as well as getting heavily involved in real estate development. This makes sense but both of these activities take a lot of time. If you did everything he asks you to in just this book (his action steps) it would take you hundreds of hours.

Claim: Rich idiots have more time because they have property managers do the work and create lease-options, etc. These are all great and true in theory but the reality is that it takes considerable time finding these deals, putting together your Rich Idiot team, understanding what lease-options really are and how they can benefit you, how to set up the right deal, get the right financing, etc. He ignores the time spent up front learning this knowledge in skill. I’m surprised by this because he reminds us throughout the book that he is a voracious reader who has spent a lot of time learning about these principles of wealth accumulation. He has years of experience doing things right and years of experience doing things wrong. He should be emphasizing this fact not trying to convince the reader they can get rich quick by simply adopting his methods.

Talking about Education. He feels getting a formal education is a waste of time because that takes you away from doing the things that he’s done to get wealthy. He feels this way despite the fact that he did spend a lot of time in higher education (he went to law school). His legal expertise has probably made him millions of dollars in the span of his career, but he dismisses this experience and focuses on the student loans he had to take out for that worthless degree. What about the benefits of being in higher education? How much of his work ethic can and should be tied to what he learned while in school?

Talking about Mentors. This is something he gets right. In fact, this is probably the only thing in the book that I wish he would have spent more time discussing. He makes a pretty good argument for the need for mentors—having relationships with people who can regularly give you expert advice and have invested some time in you. He doesn’t give much direction in how to set out making these connections (getting a mentor). Some practical steps here would be useful.

Ethics. He has many great ideas throughout the book (action steps), but he remains vague in how to actually go about creating wealth, and I suspect he does this intentionally. Because he stays vague he doesn’t advocate unethical behavior (smart move on his part). He does share a few examples of his own unethical behavior (i.e., having “going out of business” sales every weekend for months), but never actually encourages the use of unethical behavior in accumulating wealth—at least not explicitly.

Gratitude & Giving. His inclusion of gratitude and cultivating an attitude of gratitude is great. This is important in creating a millionaire mindset. Someone who is grateful “gives back.” Shemin talks about giving back a % of your available cash. This doesn’t make sense to me because what is “available” to you is likely different than what’s available to someone else. This isn’t a matter of principles and priorities, but is simply a personal preference. For example, I have $0 available to me almost all the time. That is because I don’t carry cash in my wallet. I also have little available in easy to access bank accounts. I do have considerable cash invested—but that money isn’t really “available.” Does that mean that if I find a way to give $1 to a charitable cause that I am being exceedingly generous? Of course not, which is why he is careful not to give specifics about his own giving. This is a personal choice.

Goals. His discussion about goals and goal setting is ridiculous. He tells you to throw away all of your goals because you only need one goal. That goal, of course, is to become a Rich Idiot. How do you accomplish that? Well, by setting goals and accomplishing them, of course! So take your goals back out of the trash… you’ll need them to accomplish the one goal that rules them all—becoming a Rich Idiot! He tells you a few of the goals you should have (writing yourself out a wealth check, writing a mission statement, action plan steps, etc). Aren’t these goals? I don’t understand his rationale here. I get the impression that he isn’t against having goals he just want to insure that your goals are the exact ones he has because then you will buy into the Rich Idiot brand and he will benefit financially.

Action . He emphasizes throughout the book that Rich Idiot’s are those who take action. Hurray, he is right about this. It isn’t a new idea, almost all personal finance literature advocates action, nevertheless, he is also encouraging action and this is a good thing.

Rich Idiot action steps
Here are a few of his “Rich Idiot” action steps…

  1. Design your perfect life (your map)
  2. Forgive others, forgive yourself.
  3. Write yourself a wealth check
  4. Live rich today
  5. If you rent buy your first house, if you own a house buy your next one
  6. Write your simple business plan
  7. Make a blessing list and say thank you for each one
  8. Have fun

Published: 2008, 256 pages, 12 CDs
Reviewed: May 2008
Other Reviews: n/a
Official Site:

Tyler Christensen
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Tyler Christensen

Tyler is a husband and dad, professor, writer, web designer, and DIYer.
Tyler Christensen
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