Wealth, like a tree, grows from a tiny seed. The first copper you save is the seed from which your tree of wealth shall grow. The sooner you plant that seed the sooner shall the tree grow. And the more faithfully you nourish and water that tree with consistent savings, the sooner may you bask in contentment beneath its shade.” Arkad from “The Richest Man In Babylon”
The best piece of advice I can give anyone who is serious about building wealth is this: You need to read The Richest Man in Babylon. Of all the books on financial planning and personal wealth I have read in my life, The Richest Man In Babylon is by far the best. I just finished re-reading this book for the third time. And here is the kicker: It was first written in 1926!
A Wealth Building Book from the 1920s?
Why would anyone today want to read a book on personal wealth that was written in the 1920s? (Did they even have indoor plumbing back then?) Well, in my case, I read the book because a billionaire I know told me to read it. That was all the convincing I needed!
Here is a little background on the book. The Richest Man in Babylon was written by George Samuel Clason (1874 – 1957). He wrote several informational pamphlets for banks and insurance companies. (In my mind, George Clason is the godfather of personal finance blogging.) These separate pamphlets were pulled together and published in 1926 as a book called The Richest Man In Babylon.
You may not have heard of this book, but I guarantee you already know some of its contents. Have you ever heard of the concept of saving 10% of each paycheck, or “paying yourself first?” Almost every wealth expert I listen to today presents this idea in some form or another as their own “secret formula for success.” Well guess what? Mr. Clason introduced this concept way back in the 1920s.
Controlling debt is a big issue today. Wealth experts everywhere pound us everyday with the concept of “living within your means.” Well that’s in the book, too. I’ve noticed dividend investing is becoming very popular these days. That topic is covered starting in Chapter 2. Want to protect your wealth from loss? The book provides lots of advice on that as well.
Most books I’ve read on finance and wealth creation are very technical and quite frankly, boring. The beauty of this book is its unique style. Topics are introduced through a collection of parables set in ancient Babylon. The stories are interesting, the characters are fascinating, and the contents are very informative. Not only will you enjoy reading about characters like Bansir (a chariot builder), Mathod (a money lender) and Arkad (the richest man in Babylon), you will also learn the foundations of wealth creation. Also, the book is relatively short with only 144 pages.
The Principles of Wealth Building Have Not Changed Since the Days of Babylon
So why do I recommend a book from the 1920s? My experience has taught me that the more things change, the more things stay the same. Despite the advent of computers, the internet, and Wall Street trading algorithms, the principles of wealth creation have not changed much since the ancient times Babylon.
I use the word “principles” deliberately when describing wealth creation because I do believe there are a set of rules that everyone can follow to be successful. In fact, the principles of wealth creation are quite simple, as The Richest Man In Babylon will show.
Of course, simple doesn’t always mean easy. Wealth building also involves discipline, dedication, sacrifice and hard work, and that is the part you need to supply.