“The Richest Man in Babylon” is a compilation of invaluable laws and principles of gold, unraveled from the fallen Babylonian Empire. The 186-paged book, written by George S. Clason, consists of stories of wealth and penury with little bits of laws and lessons.
We are taken back to Babylon to meet various personalities, such as “Arkad”- who was indeed the richest man in Babylon and one who gave ardent teachings of wealth creation. The different names and personalities found in the stories can be used to represent the various types of people in today’s world. That is, the rich, poor, comfortable, hardworking, the lazy, and the slave.
Generally, The Richest Man in Babylon talks about how we can amass wealth and be financially successful. Taking us through the vital process of wealth accumulation, it starts us off at simply having the desire for wealth, through the principles of luck and opportunity, the five laws of gold and all it takes to live in an overflow of wealth.
Every story stems from concrete points and disguised principles. The language of the author, however, is quite unconventional as a result of the use of early modern ‘Shakespearean’ English. Yet, the message remains clear all through, making the piece one of the best books on personal finance.
Here are two of the most popular segments of the book:
Seven Cures for a Lean Purse
- Start thy purse to fattening
- Control thy expenditures
- Make thy gold multiply
- Guard thy treasure from loss
- Make of thy dwelling a profitable investment
- Insure a future income
- Increase thy ability to earn
The Five Laws of Gold
- Gold cometh gladly and in increasing quantity to any man who will put by not less than one-tenth of his earnings to create an estate for his future and that of his family
- Gold laboreth diligently and contentedly for the wise owner who finds for it profitable employment, multiplying even as the flocks of the field
- Gold clingeth to the protection of the cautious owner who invests it under the advice of men wise in its handling
- Gold slippeth away from the man who invests it in businesses or purposes with which he is not familiar or which are not approved by those who are skilled in its keep
- Gold flees the man who would force it to impossible earnings or who followeth the alluring advice of tricksters and schemers or who trusts it to his own inexperience and romantic desires in investment
I recommend this book on one ground: Read only if you desire to be rich.
Just a few reversals here:
First, the laws are not infallible. That is, things may not work according to the laws set in the ancient scrolls. The glaring difference in era from when the book was carved on clay and now should nudge us to the realization that we do not follow Babylonian methods but rather complex systems. Hence, flexibility is paramount as dogmatic principles may not stand the test of time.
Next, in an attempt to ensure that we make careful investments, the rules are entirely risk averse.
“The first sound principle of investment is security for thy principal”
The above quote contradicts with the popular quote- “The higher the risk, the higher the return”. Warren Buffet would probably have a different view on the idea of ensuring your principal is safe.
Regardless, with the laws in this book applied rightly, especially on the aspect of saving, gold ‘clinking’ in thy purse would soon be a regular sound.
About the Author
George Samuel Clason (1874-1957) was a Soldier, Businessman and Writer. He served in the United States Army during the Spanish-American War. He is accredited to the writing of series of informational pamphlets on being thrifty and the achievement of financial success. With stories carved out in ancient Babylon, The Richest Man in Babylon is a compilation of some of the famous parables and stories.