The Richest Man In Babylon – Book Review

I recently finished reading the book Richest Man in Babylon, a book by George S Clason. There were some interesting parts in the book, and I thought it was a decent read for someone who isnt aware of their personal finances and struggles with it. I realize that there are plenty of folks out there who struggle with grasping the concept of saving and investing and fall into the traps of overspending their hard earned money. However, I just couldn’t figure out why this book is so popular and recommended by one and all. Don’t get me wrong, I thought there was some value in the concepts outlined, but anyone who spends a little bit of time thinking about personal finance can figure these concepts out and there are plenty of other resources available in these days, that can educate starters more easily. The book is also elaborate with quasi-repetitive stories, which I thought was unnecessary and could’ve been wrapped in less than half the pages dedicated to the stories.

Takeaways

Some of the takeaways that I liked and were central to the book were:

1. Save 10% of your income.

2. Each gold piece is a slave. Each copper that is born from that slave is another worker for you (compounding).

3. Bad investments are learning tools (the author shares a story where the protagonist buys rare jewels by getting an investment tip from a brickmaker). “Advice is one thing that is freely given away, but watch that you take only what is worth having.”

Three laws of successfully building wealth – learning how to acquire money, how to keep it, and how to use it.

Another point that stood out that I liked in the book was:

“Enjoy life while you are here. Do not overstrain or try to save too much. If one-tenth of all you earn is as much as you can comfortably keep, be content to keep this portion.”…”Life is good and life is rich with things worthwhile and things to enjoy.”

The words above resonated with me as I have seen some people overstrain themselves by cutting everything enjoyable out of life. To each their own, and yes frugality is important in saving and building wealth, but if one starts to cut corners in the important parts of life in order to save a buck or two, sooner or later regret will set in. In addition to the lost time when life should’ve been enjoyed, people start seeing decline in their health or other important aspects of life, which I think is crucial to keep in mind when we are on our journey to achieve financial independence.

Recommendation

Overall, I thought this book was average. While the fundamentals are basic, some of the stories are repetitive and simplistic. I envision that this book was written for teenagers (or adults who have no grasp of personal finance) to help them understand how to build wealth over time.

Have you read this book? Do you agree with my take on it? One way or another, leave a comment below and share your thoughts.

12 thoughts on “The Richest Man In Babylon – Book Review

  1. R2R,

    I read the book and really liked it. More than anything it reinforced many of the things I had figured out on my own. I always like positive reinforcement that tells me what I am doing is on track. It also proves that the basic laws of finance are universal and age old. No need chasing the latest greatest fad, just stick to the basics, be prudent and patient. The rewards will follow.
    Thanks,

    Deets

    • Deets,
      Yes, you are right. Some of the basics are universal no matter which era it is. I can see why this book is recommended to a lot of folks starting out when they are young. Unfortunately, the basics of personal finance, which should be taught in schools is missing.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.
      regards
      R2R

  2. Haha buddy, I just can’t believe you hadn’t read it before. No, it’s not my favorite finance/investing book…….but it fills an important niche by teaching “life’s lessons” through fable/parable. Often times we are too close to our own lives to be self aware. Instead this book causes the reader to look for the lessons in the story……and naturally compare these lessons to our own lives.

    Not a must buy book…..but worth picking up at the library. I hope you and the Mrs. are doing well!
    -Bryan

    • I think you are right, Bryan. The book fills a niche that is important for some ppl starting out. For ppl who are bit more self aware, its not quite the best read imo. Nice summary.

      We are doing well….just waiting for this winter to go away 🙂 Hope you and the family is doing well.

      R2R

  3. R2R,

    I have read the book several times and I like its simplicity. Maybe because I am simple. 🙂 In a world full of options, derivatives, 2 and 3 times bull and bear ETFs, its a good reminder to focus on the basics of saving money each day, each month, each year, and so on. If the majority of folks out there did nothing but save 10% of their income even in just a savings account, the financially difficulties people experience would drop significantly.

    MDP

    • I hear you, MDP. Simplicity is good and as DivMantra just posted a topic yesterday, you are better off trying to keep things simple. Its a shame that our education system is so bad that high schoolers come out without learning the basics of how to make and maintain a budget. It is left to them to figure it out in the real world, which is such an essential life skill and lot of ppl fall into the trap of overspending.

      Thanks for the input
      R2R

  4. I read this book more than a decade ago. I wish I would have followed the advice at that age. I don’t remember the contents of the book that well but for a beginning investor it is worth a read. Thanks for the review.

    • DD,
      I agree that for beginners, its a good read. It paints a decent picture of how people can build their fortune over time and it doesnt take a herculean effort to do so. Unfortunately, such a simple message is lost on the masses.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts
      R2R

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