In 1926, George S. Clason published a series of pamphlets written in parables that was set in the ancient city of Babylon. The book became known as “The Richest Man in Babylon” and has become a classic in financial literature. I first came across this gem few years ago during the “Money and Transformation” seminar that I organised and which was taught by Mayuri Onerheim whose works and books I mentioned in the “Dear Rumi, tell me about money” article.
The Richest Man in Babylon tells the story, supposedly inscribed on ancient tablets, of a young man named Arkad and the richest man in a city of fabulous wealth. This rich man goes on to give advice to a class of one hundred pupils on the subject of gathering riches. The list of his seven cures for a lean purse are:
Pay yourself first. Leave 10% or one dollar unspent for every ten we earn.
CURE 2 “Control thy expenditures”
See Needs versus Wants in the “Tell me about money”
CURE 3 “Make thy gold multiply”
“Behold, from my humble earnings I had begotten a hoard of golden slaves, each labouring and earning more gold. As they laboured for me, so their children also laboured and their children’s children until great was the income from their combined efforts.”
CURE 4 “Guard thy treasures from loss”
“Guard thy treasure from loss by investing only where thy principle is safe, where it may be reclaimed if desirable, and where thou will not fail to collect a fair rental. Consult with wise men. Secure the advice of those experienced in the profitable handling of gold.”
CURE 5 “Make of thy dwelling, a profitable investment”
CURE 6 “Provide for future income”
“It behoves a man to make preparation for a suitable income in the days to come, when he is no longer young, and to make preparations for his family should he be no longer with them to comfort and support them.”
CURE 7 “Increase thy ability to earn”
“As a man perfecteth himself in his calling, even so doth his ability to earn increase – the more of wisdom we know, the more we may earn.”
“Thus the seventh and last remedy for a lean purse is to cultivate thy own powers, to study and become wiser and more skillful, to so act as to respect thyself.
Further readings and resources
- The Richest Man in Babylon summary by James Clear.
- Another useful post about the book. The examples and interpretations in this one are based on the American financial environment: “8 Lessons from the Richest Man in Babylon“
- YouTube audio book:
- Finally, if you decide to buy the book, please try and find one of the unedited versions with the yellow cover. The reviews for the updated (for 21st century) version by BN Publishing are not impressive.