This review and The Richest Man in Babylon summary will show you how the timeless teachings from ancient Babylon could help you grow wealth and put you on the path to financial success.
The Richest Man in Babylon was written in 1926, prior to the great depression.
It is a classic in the business world with its timeless principles on money.
Modern financial books like the famous Rich Dad, Poor Dad are influenced by lessons in The Richest Man in Babylon.
The author, George Clason, wrote a series of pamphlets that made use of the parabolic method with the thriving city of ancient Babylon as a setting.
The popular pamphlets joined together became the book we know today.
The book brought about the famous business principle pay yourself first, as well as a host of others that serve as pillars in the wealth-building process in just 144 pages.
Before the book review, here’s The Richest Man in Babylon summary that highlights some powerful lessons.
The Richest Man in Babylon Summary
Chapter 1: The Man Who Desired Gold
The book begins on the busy streets of Ancient Babylon on a sunny afternoon.
While the street bustles with the King’s slaves moving alongside the chariots of the rich, traders go about their business, and beggars prowl the streets.
Amid those activities, a man named Bansir has discouragement written all over him.
His spirit is so low he can’t work. Not even the disgruntled face of his wife pulls him out of his misery.
As he broods, his best friend Kobbi, who plays music, drops by.
Kobbi assumes Bansir has enough money for the day and proceeds to ask for a loan.
Bansir’s negative response and further unwillingness to work shook his friend, who doesn’t bother hiding his astonishment.
Then, Bansir tells him about a dream he had where he basked in riches.
Upon waking up to poverty, he sank into depression.
Bansir and Kobbi throw a pity party for a while, then the latter suggests meeting an old friend of theirs, Arkad.
Motivated by the thought of getting advice from someone who has a lot of gold, the friends go in search of Arkad.
Chapter 2: The Richest Man in Babylon
Arkad has a typical rag to riches success story, which saw him go from humble beginnings to become the richest man in Babylon.
He gets so rich he becomes the King’s personal adviser on matters of finance.
His success doesn’t end with him, however. His son, Nomasir, goes on to become rich.
Far from being a miser, Arkad is a generous man who spends well yet never seems to run out of wealth.
When his friends inquire about the source of his wealth, Arkad is more than ready to share his ‘secrets’ with them.
Arkad’s Success Story
Arkad was a young man who came to terms with the benefits of riches and got interested in making money.
He had no proverbial silver spoon in his mouth and no particular gifts, yet he remained determined.
As a scribe, he got in contact with Algamish, a moneylender who needed service.
Arkad could not meet the deadline for that service which got Algamish peeved.
Sensing an opportunity, Arkad offered a bargain.
He’d finish Algamish’s work if the latter would teach him how to be rich. Algamish accepted.
When Arkad finished the work, Algamish gave him his first lesson:
“I found the road to wealth when I decided that a part of all I earned was mine to keep. And so will you.”
In other words, pay yourself first.
Algamish revealed that when we spend, we pay others
When we save, however, we pay ourselves.
A simple 10% savings would not make us fall into lack, yet we get enough money we can make to work for us after a while.
To ensure that Arkad put the principle to practice, Algamish paid him.
Despite the temptation, Arkad followed what the moneylender taught him.
After a year, Algamish met him and was pleased to see the young lad kept to the rule but scolded him for making a bad financial decision.
Arkad gave his money to a brickmaker to buy jewels.
Then came the second lesson:
“If you would have advice about jewels, go to the jewel merchant. If you would know the truth about sheep, go to the herdsman. Advice is one thing that is freely given away, but watch that you take only what is worth having.”
Notwithstanding, Arkad saved once more and was smart enough to give the money to a knowledgeable person.
However, he made a second mistake of spending his profit.
Algamish pointed that out:
“You do eat the children of your savings. Then how do you expect them to work for you? And how can they have children that will also work for you? First, get thee an army of golden slaves and then many a rich banquet may you enjoy without regret.”
Arkad got it right the third time. Satisfied with his progress, Algamish gave him a job.
Chapter 3: Seven Cures for a Lean Purse
Arkad receives a summon from the King of Babylon.
The City is going through economic struggles, and the King wants Arkad’s advice.
In seven days, to an audience of hundred, Arkad gives his lessons:
1. Start thy Purse to Fattening
It boils down to the famous maxim of pay yourself first.
Rather than spend everything you earn, save 10% of it.
In a year, you should have enough to earn some more.
2. Control thy Expenditures
Arkad advises his audience—and us, by extension—to separate their needs from their wants.
Because humans are insatiable, a scale of preference is needed.
This scale must have our basic needs first.
Here, working with a budget is important.
3. Make thy Gold Multiply
The next cure is simple: make money work for you. Saving money is but one step in the wealth creation process.
After you save money, you need to make it multiply. Invest the money in profitable businesses.
4. Guard thy Treasures from Loss
We all have come across investment businesses that seem too good to be true.
That’s because they are, and you should avoid them. Your saving is your treasure.
Take necessary steps before investing your money.
5. Make of thy Dwelling a Profitable Investment
As your income increases, take steps towards getting your own house.
It is a profitable venture to have a home you can call your own.
6. Insure a Future Income
Life is unstable, and we are like mist. You could be here today, gone tomorrow.
If you live long, you won’t always be young.
Thus, you need to make sure you have a good retirement plan and insurance for the hard times of life.
7. Increase thy Ability to Earn
Another remedy or cure for a lean purse is learning.
If you have a job, you stand a better chance at a promotion if you gain more skills.
If you have a talent, become an expert in it. Self-development cannot be underrated.
Chapter 4: Meet the Goddess of Good Luck
Everyone wants to be lucky. We see a person succeeding, and we exclaim with a mixture of admiration and envy, “you are so lucky.”
The desire to be lucky, however, is not a 21st-century malady.
Babylonians went to temples to pray to Ishtar, goddess of good luck.
During a learning process with Arkad as a teacher, a weaver asks to know how to be lucky.
The discussion reveals insights on the subject of luck:
- Luck meets a person who works hard.
- Opportunity comes to those proactive enough to grab them.
- Make the best of every opportunity that comes your way.
- Good decisions influence luck.
- Luck doesn’t come without effort.
- Kill procrastination.
Chapter 5: The Five Laws of Gold
An old man tells his servants the story of Arkad and his son Nomasir.
When Nomasir gets to the age of getting his inheritance, Arkad decides to train him.
With a bag of gold and a clay tablet containing the Laws of Gold, Arkad sends Nomasir out to the world.
Ten years later, Nomasir comes back with his family to give an account.
While he squandered the gold Arkad gave him, he was able to rebuild his wealth with the words of wisdom on the tablet.
The following are 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 laboureth 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 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.”
Chapef 6: The Gold Lender of Babylon
Rodan, a spear maker, makes a fortune of fifty gold coins.
His sister requests a loan for her husband. Not knowing what to do, he meets a gold lender, Mathon.
From their discussion, we get valuable wisdom on the subject of borrowing and lending:
- Lend with caution to avoid loss.
- Know what the borrower needs the money for and if they actually have knowledge of the business.
- Figure out the possibilities of getting back your money. Caution is better than regret.
Chapter 7: Walls of Babylon
We get the tale of Old Banzir, a warrior.
Babylon is under attack from Assyria. As the war rages on, Banzir assures worried Babylonians of their safety.
He turns out to be right. The walls of Babylon protect the city.I
n the same way, insurance, secure investments, and a savings account are like the Walls that protect us.
Chapter 8: Camel Trader of Babylon
This is a story of debt and determination. Tarkad is a man of low means, waiting for a friend from whom he wants to borrow.
Suddenly, he meets a creditor of his. The creditor is Dabasir, a camel merchant.
When Dabasir asks for his debt, Tarkad says he cannot pay it.
After that, Dabasir drags Tarkad along to where the former is to have lunch.
There, he tells Tarkad a story of how he got so indebted, became a thief, and ended up as a slave.
When the woman he worked for sensed the ‘spirit of a free man’ in him, she gave Dabasir camels to go back and repay his debt.
With determination, he succeeds.
Chapter 9: Clay Tablets
In 1934, archeologists discovered clay tablets that belong to Dabasir of the previous story.
The Clay tablets contain a detailed financial plan for debt clearance.
Chapter 10: The Luckiest Man in Babylon
The penultimate story to the final piece details the conversation between a prince merchant and a young lad.
The lesson is clear: Hardwork pays.
Chapter 11: Historical sketch of Babylon
The book rounds up with a historical account of Babylon in its golden era.
15 Timeless Lessons from the Richest Man in Babylon Summary
With so much wisdom and lessons on the pages of this book, here are timeless principles that will help you increase your wealth and live a better life.
1. Don’t ask a fisherman for a fish; let him teach you how to fish
Arkad got on Algamish’s good side and learned invaluable finance lessons because he asked to be taught, not for gold.
It is tempting to ask for money when we meet rich folks.
However, a better option is to learn from them.
How did they get successful?
What challenges did they face?
How can you apply that to your personal life?
2. Pay yourself first
The narrator repeated this lesson a lot for good reasons. It is the first step in wealth building.
We tend to think the money we earn from our jobs and businesses is ours.
However, we use this money to pay bills and buy stuff, which means it never was ours.
The amount that belongs to us is the one we save. That is our treasure.
3. Money is a slave, not a master
When money becomes a master, you get obsessed with it and anxious you won’t have enough.
When you have it, you’d want to use it with no thought of earning more.
This book has taught that money should be seen as a slave. Put it to work and watch it multiply.
4. Procrastination must be overcome
What we see as luck is someone making good use of an opportunity.
It is impossible to do this if you are a procrastinator.
Like the famous cliche suggests, procrastination is poisonous to our dreams.
We need to overcome the tendency to put things off till later. Some opportunities fade.
5. Knowledge is power
From financial literacy to improving on one’s craft, knowledge boosts our ability to earn more.
We would become stagnant and redundant without knowledge.
Make knowledge a priority, far more than money. It is the knowledge that gives us the chance to make money, after all.
6. Be conservative with your investment
If an investment plan promises an outlandish ROI and seems too good to be true, it is.
Your money should be guarded and invested in a business you are sure is legitimate.
You also need to understand what the business is about.
If you don’t know anything about real estate, for instance, it is best not to invest in it.
7. Don’t dislike work; embrace it
Sometimes, we have a negative view of work, especially when we struggle to leave the comfort of our bed.
We see it as a necessary evil, something we would instead do without were it not for money.
However, work has more rewards not limited to money.
It brings about qualities like self-growth, satisfaction, good values, and resilience.
View work as a friend, not an enemy.
8. Leave a good financial legacy for your children
Arkad’s son got wealthy thanks to the counsel Arkad gave him.
The perception you give your children about money goes a long way in determining their views of it.
Ensure your children have a healthy opinion of money.
Of course, this begins with making sure you have a good relationship with money.
9. Get only expert advice
You can never run out of advice. Every corner you go, there is someone willing to drop a suggestion or give counsel.
You need to ensure you get quality financial advice, and the way to do this is to go to professionals in the field you’re interested in.
If you want to invest in the stock market, go to a broker.
If you are interested in forex, find a forex trader.
10. Strive to remain debt-free
Getting indebted to someone puts you in a financial cage.
Thus, clearing your debt should be a priority.
Once you set aside 10% into savings, the next item on your list should be paying your creditors.
11. Lend with caution
As you invest with wisdom, take precautions when you want to lend to someone.
Too often, the drama associated with loans and debts can be traumatizing.
It is simple—be prudent when lending.
12. Don’t hoard needed information
If you know something that is beneficial to those around you, share it with them.
We all are in the business of success, and there is no limited slot.
13. Mistakes are teachers
Arkad tried three years before he grasped the lessons of the moneylender.
He made foolish decisions and learned from them.
On the road to financial success, you may make mistakes. Take them as teachers.
14. Live below your means
You set yourself up for lack when you attempt a lifestyle that is tasking on your income.
Manage your expenses, know your priorities and avoid comparisons with other people.
15. Don’t rush the process
Unless your goal is to win a lottery, being wealthy takes time.
Avoid shortcuts and promises of instant gratification.
Rather than wish for a large sum of money, set up streams to gain a steady income.
The Book Review
The Richest Man in Babylon is a book to read if you are serious about knowing how to manage money and build wealth.
The financial principles therein have stood the test of time and remain unchanging.
Getting rich does not just happen; it requires effort on your part.
The strength of the book comes from its storytelling qualities, exotic settings, and small size.
You could read the book numerous times in a week.
Plus, the lessons are easy to memorize.
However, the book may come across as simplistic and archaic to modern readers.
It presents a simple reality that did not take into account the complexities of the 21st century.
The diction is also different from what we are used to.
Having said that, the principles still apply. If it does not make you rich, at least you’d learn how to manage your money and earn more.
1. Is The Richest Man in Babylon a good book?
Good is a relative word. It may not be so for everyone.
However, the knowledge it contains is important, and you should know them if you want to improve your personal finance and achieve financial freedom.
2. What is the main point in The Richest Man in Babylon Summary?
Being rich requires a sound financial plan, hard work, determination, and readiness.
3. Is The Richest Man in Babylon a true story?
No. The Richest Man in Babylon is a series of parables set in Ancient Babylon with characters and fictional events.
4. Should I read The Richest Man in Babylon?
Yes. The Richest Man in Babylon is a book you should read as it contains timeless wisdom.
You can improve your personal finance and build wealth with the lessons.
5. How do you get rich in Babylon?
There are principles of wealth you need to follow to get rich.
It starts with keeping a part of what you earn for yourself—pay yourself first.
The Bottom Line
On the journey to wealth and riches, the lessons from The Richest Man in Babylon are like a compass you should have.
Money is good. It helps you solve problems, provide for your family, and experience beautiful things on earth.
However, riches is not a magical art. Anyone can improve their finances and be wealthy.
Hopefully, you enjoyed this piece on The Richest Man in Babylon summary and book review.