The Richest Man in Babylon – George S. Clason

1. Introduction

When we speak of history, Babylon is a city that we associate with much wealth and prosperity. However, it wasn’t always like that. The city of Babylon is a clear example of mankind’s ability to achieve a lot, even though they had little at their disposal. Babylon had only two natural resources: fertile soil and river water. Through this and the wisdom they possessed, they were able to build one of the greatest cities ever. They engineered dams which allowed the water to flow onto the fertile soil, encouraging the growth of crops in abundance. It is believed that the trading of these crops was the stepping stone for their wealth and splendor.

Unlike other well known cities in history, Babylon did not require the use of raiding to increase their profits. Their defenses, the sky scraping walls they built, almost considered as great as the pyramids of Egypt, were crucial in their survival, and it is claimed as one of the seven wonders of the world.

It is believed that the Babylonians were ahead of their time. They were skilled arts man, painters, weavers, jewelers, etc. They were clever financiers and traders.
Babylon, though constantly besieged, was never overthrown or entered by outside forces until 540 years B.C. However, it wasn’t because the opposing army penetrated the impregnable walls. The king at the time was advised to go forth to meet the oncoming army. In doing so, he was unfortunately defeated leaving the city open and unguarded. The city never achieved the greatness it once possessed and over time it became a desolate waste. Nonetheless, though the city is no more, the wisdom of the Babylonians lives on, and we all can learn a great deal from the great city of Babylon.

2. Key ideas and insights of the book

The book starts off with a man who desired gold. Like every other human being, we all want to be better and live better, to accumulate items we like and to bless ourselves with gifts. Bansir, a chariot builder, was discouraged at his lack of fortune. Every day, he did the same thing and barely got by. While others were living life ecstatically, he wanted more. He observed the only way to increase his monetary value was to ask his good friend who’s done what he wanted to achieve and has gone where he wanted to go. The lesson goes like this: ”It costs nothing to ask wise advice from a good friend” or in ancient terms: “Thou makes me to realize the reason why we never found any measure of wealth. We never sought it.”

The book continues with the advice of Bansir’s good friend and how he achieved his wealth and greatness. He tells his story about how he became the richest man in Babylon. Likewise, this man wasn’t handed a silver spoon, neither was he a prince with an inheritance. He too, had to ask one more well off than him how to obtain wealth and gold for himself. The grand advice he received was: “A part of all you earn is yours to keep.”

From this, the richest man in Babylon understood that he must pay himself first. From everything that he earned, one tenth was his to save, or more based on what he could afford. This is because wealth, like a tree, grows from a tiny seed.

The 7 Cures for a Lean Purse

The rich man than went on to include other things he has learned from his mentor. He called them the Seven Cures for a Lean Purse:

1) Start thy purse to fattening. This means: to put aside a tenth of what you earned, and over time it will accumulate.

2) Control thy expenditures. Carefully consider what is necessary and what isn’t. Don’t throw your coin to that which isn’t required.

3) Make thy gold multiply. Look for ways to get your gold to work for you, for example by investing.

4) Guard thy treasure from loss. This ties in with number 2, i.e. to be careful with where we spend our money. We shouldn’t be rash with spending or intrigued by ‘get rich quick schemes.’

5) Own thy own home, Make of thy dwelling a profitable investment. Meaning: invest in obtaining your own land and/or house. You can’t fully enjoy life unless you have something you can call your own.

6) Insure a future income. “Save for a rainy day” comes to mind with this rule. We don’t know what the future holds. Therefore, we must save accordingly for bad days that come upon us unexpectedly.

7) Increase thy ability to earn. “The more of wisdom we know, the more we may earn.” Increase your knowledge to better yourself and earn more money. “The man who seeks to learn more of his craft shall be richly rewarded.” In other words: The more you learn, the more you earn.

These 7 methods for creating wealth were in the first half of the book. The author continues to include key knowledgeable concepts within the pages, from topics to “good luck” and “working for others”. To keep it short: there’s so much one can learn. The points are fundamental and simple but without a doubt very crucial.

3. Personal conclusion

I’ve begun to adapt some methods and can see the effect it will have in the future. This book isn’t complicated or brain wrecking. It’s simplified tremendously, but the impact regardless is grand. It also goes into detail concerning the seven cures for a lean purse and many other economical situations.

Most would study universities courses in economics, but this read I feel is a fundamental basis for any monetary exchanges and wealth management. This isn’t just advice for the ‘well off’, but also for those who have little to nothing. Like the chariot builder and the richest man in Babylon, these individuals had nothing. But they made that nothing into something.

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Kieran Edwards
Hey I'm Kieran, a book lover from Bermuda. Reading is a win-win situation for me. Besides the fact that I enjoy it, it exposes me to knowledge, ideas, and experiences I otherwise would not have come across. I hope to share whatever I encounter in the instance that it can improve your life and make you aware of how you can love the life you live and live the life you love. Happy reading.
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Kieran Edwards

About Kieran Edwards

Hey I'm Kieran, a book lover from Bermuda. Reading is a win-win situation for me. Besides the fact that I enjoy it, it exposes me to knowledge, ideas, and experiences I otherwise would not have come across. I hope to share whatever I encounter in the instance that it can improve your life and make you aware of how you can love the life you live and live the life you love. Happy reading.