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The Richest Man in Babylon

If you read a lot of personal finance news articles and blogs, what’s contained in The Richest man in Babylon [3] isn’t going to be surprise you… except that it was by written Mr. George S. Clason in 1926. The book looks like a novel, is written like a novel, and reads like a novel but it pushes forth very important and basic ideas that many will find very familiar today.

The fact that the ideas, claimed to have borrowed from the Babylonians, he wrote in 1926 are still applicable is amazing. They were true then and they are true even today after a Great Depression, two World Wars and a multitude of other armed conflicts, numerous stock market bubbles and bursts, and countless other events that have changed the financial landscape. I’m willing to bet, unless we abolish currency/bartering and the concept of wealth and ownership, they’ll be applicable in another hundred years.

The book reads like a novel and puts Akbar, the richest man in Babylon, on a pedestal. All who seek riches go to him and in the course of time, he educates them on the principles by which he has lived his financial life. There are classic concepts such as saving part of what you earn (10%) and investing in those who are doing their strengths (don’t have a bricklayer buy gems for you, for he will return with pretty glass pieces for your gold). Many of the books you’ll read today are based on the parables found within this book.

I was reading some of the Amazon.com reviews and this one, from Dawn Walsh, was especially interesting:

I work in the Financial Advisor training program at Legg Mason. This book has been used in their training for years now, and teaches an invaluable lesson in wealth management and retention. (emphasis mine)

The book isn’t long, isn’t difficult to read, and you can probably find a copy at your local library. If you wanted to buy it, it’s price like a novel at around $7 a copy, so it won’t put a dent in your budget. I highly recommend the Richest Man in Babylon because it’s a fun and interesting read (once you get used to how the Babylonians speak) and because it’s an often-referenced book despite its diminutive size.