Ep2 SSBC Podcast: The Richest Man in Babylon

On today’s episode, we’ll review The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason, listen in on a post-movie chat about American Animals with myself and Steven, and take a look at the calendar for literary events around the country.

Short Story Book Review

The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason

It becomes more apparent that it’s true what they say about lifestyle changes being required to achieve financial success. Nowhere does it say that you can just think your way to riches or think your way to having the money you want without doing any work. So, when I found a copy of The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason, I wasn’t too surprised by what I’d read.

In fact, The Richest Man in Babylon seems to have been one of the earliest books on personal finance if you don’t count the Bible itself. It seems Clason may have written The Richest Man in Babylon with the Bible in mind. It is set in about the same period and Middle Eastern location of the Christian Bible and uses parables as a means of teaching financial lessons in the same way that Jesus taught moral and spiritual lessons through parables to his disciples and others. Yet Clason’s parables aren’t religious. You might think that since it echoes the Bible that it would have religious undertones. It turns out to be just the opposite.

The Richest Man in Babylon is a nondenominational book with straightforward financial lessons that anyone seeking the freedom that comes with wealth will need to learn.

The name of the richest man in Babylon happens to be Arkad. Each chapter of Clason’s collection of parables illustrates lessons that either Arkad learned or that others learned from Arkad’s teachings. In this manner, the book also reminds me of Rich Dad, Poor Dad. There is an everyday man with real access to wealth who others turn to for wisdom about how to build to real wealth.

In one parable, there is a man with much work to do. However, rather than do his work, he sits off to the side thinking about how he could be rich. A friend walks by and sees him thinking. The friend reasons that the man must have finished his work since he is sitting by idly. The man shares his thoughts with his friend, and his friend, who is apparently quite wise, says that rather than sitting there muddling maybe he should get back to work or, even better, talk to Arkad and ask how he became so wealthy. They agree that this is a great idea, and upon receiving their request, Arkad agrees to teach them without hesitation.

Among the many lessons that Arkad teaches the men is that they should:

  • Save 10 percent of everything they earn
  • Put their money to work and have it bring interest or multiply
  • Avoid deals with swindlers
  • Ensure a passive income
  • Increase their ability to earn

Of course, I am paraphrasing, but those were some of the main teachings from Arkad put in everyday language.

The Richest Man in Babylon goes on like this throughout the book. Every chapter and every parable has a new set of life lessons. These are essentially the new financial behaviors that anyone looking to financial freedom would be wise to develop.

As a financial book, The Richest Man in Babylon is a good primer for people who are new to finance. This is not to say that the book is simple any more than the parables of Jesus were. Rather, if you are someone who has never had more than a few hundred dollars to your name, then Clason’s book meets you where you are. It’s a fact that not everyone grew up with a proper financial education. Things like not spending every penny you earn is a hard lesson to learn when everyone around you lives paycheck to paycheck.

Really, that’s what the Bible’s parables were all about: teaching people major life lessons by using simple words and a bit of creative storytelling.

So, I would say The Richest Man in Babylon is an excellent book. It is perfect for people just getting started with personal finance. Its parable format makes it excellent as a teaching tool and makes learning life lessons about money easier to understand.

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