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The Richest Man in Babylon
A Money Book Summary

The Richest Man in Babylon, by George S. Clason, 160 pp..  (Also available in Audio)

Originally written in the 1920's, this beloved classic has sold millions and just keeps on selling. What's the appeal? The delightful story format, set in ancient Babylon, makes otherwise dry financial concepts come to life. 

Bansir has distinguished himself as a fine chariot-maker. Yet, he has no money. He decides to seek the wisdom of his old friend Arkad, who's known far and wide for his great wealth.  As youth, they were financial equals. Bansir assumed that fortune had simply looked more favorably upon Arkad. Arkad replies,

"If you have not acquired more than a bare existence in the years since we were youths, it is because you either have failed to learn the laws that govern the building of wealth, or else you do not observe them." (p. 10)

Thus, Arkad shares "the laws that govern the building of wealth" in the story of his own rise to riches. 

The premise: "Lo, money is plentiful for those who understand the simple rules of its acquisition." (p. iii)

The Wisdom: 

1. Seek the advice of the wise

"Counsel with wise men. Seek the advice of men whose daily work is handling money." (p. 20)

"Seek to associate thyself with men and enterprises whose success is established that thy treasure may earn liberally under their skillful use and be guarded safely by their wisdom and experience." (p. 85)

2. Start thy purse to fattening

"I found the road to wealth when I decided that...a part of all I earned was mine to keep.... It should be not less than a tenth no matter how little you earn.... Pay yourself first." (pp. 13,14)

3. Control thy expenditures

"Now I will tell thee an unusual truth about men and sons of men. It is this: That what each of us calls our 'necessary expenses' will always grow to equal our incomes unless we protest to the contrary." (p. 29)

4. Make thy gold multiply

"Every gold piece you save is a slave to work for you. Every copper it earns is its child that also can earn for you. If you would become wealthy, then what you save must earn, and its children must earn, that all may help to give to you the abundance you crave." (p. 14)

5. Guard thy treasures from loss

"...behind the impregnable walls of insurance, savings accounts and dependable investments, we can guard ourselves against the unexpected tragedies that may enter any door and seat themselves before any fireside." (p. 90)

6. Make of thy dwelling a profitable investment

"I recommend that every man own the roof that sheltereth him and his."

7. Insure a future income

"...invest thy treasure with greatest caution that it be not lost. Usurious rates of return are deceitful sirens that sing but to lure the unwary upon the rocks of loss and remorse." (p. 20)

8. Increase thy ability to earn

"Opportunity is a haughty goddess who wastes no time with those who are unprepared." (p. 18)

"...cultivate thy own powers, to study and become wiser, to become more skillful, to so act as to respect thyself." (p. 41)

"...I urge all men to be in the front rank of progress and not to stand still, lest they be left behind." (p. 41)

9. Beware of unwise debt

"...hopeless debt is like a deep pit into which one may descend quickly and where one may struggle vainly for many days. It is a pit of sorrow and regrets where the brightness of the sun is overcast and night is made unhappy by restless sleeping." (p. 80)

10. Help the less fortunate 

"...have compassion upon those who are injured and smitten by misfortune and aid them within reasonable limits. He must do deeds of thoughtfulness to those dear to him." (p. 41)

"Nothing revolutionary here," you might complain. True, it's just ageless principles of finance. But how many of us can put these principles into life? Arkad did. By reading this book, we see how he applied these principles in ancient Babylon. Somehow, seeing the principles of wise money management applied in a long lost culture , we see more clearly how to build wealth in our own culture.  

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