Monday, December 8, 2014

The Richest Man in Babylon - George S. Clason

This book has sold more than two million copies and contains success secrets of the ancients. It's something that Suresh read a long time ago and he was kind enough to gift me a copy. I only wish i'd read this book some twenty years ago - not that its not too late to start now - I just can't get over the fact that we missed such simple and practicable wisdom. Thanks Suresh.
Penguin, Rs. 350, 194 p

The Babylonian parables have a wealth of wisdom concerning how to 1) acquire wealth, 2) holding it and 3) making it earn. It pretty much deals with all things concerning money and in my opinion this book should be made compulsory reading for anyone who is about to embark on a career. If I'd known this when I passed out of college, I'd be much more financially stronger, way beyond what I can express.

The first parable is apt. A bunch of friends in Babylon, all hard working fellows who expected to somehow grow rich in their old age find that they are still struggling. However their friend has become the richest man in Babylon. He was like they had been, not even the brightest in the class. How then, they ask him, is it that you are so?

He tells them that they had 'failed to learn the laws that govern the building of wealth. or you do not observe them.'

1) Save 10% of all you earn. Pay yourself first.
'a part of all I earned was mine to keep", he said. Not less than 10%. How is it that you pay everyone but yourself? (This strongly resonates with the thought of how we have love for everyone but ourselves. It's so simple, pay yourself first.)

2) What you save must earn.
"Wealth, like a tree, grows from a tiny seed. The first copper you save is the seed from which your 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 you may bask in contentment beneath its shade.'
(Put your saved money away someplace where it earns and is not idle.)

3) Take advice from those who know
If you have to invest your money take advice from those who know. Seek advice from those who are competent through their own experience to give it.
This means go to the expert even if you look foolish - they make speak the truth and harshly but they will give good advice.

4) Don't eat the children of your savings. Make them earn for you.
Don't spend your earnings. Reinvest.

5) Live upon less than you earn
Simple enough but we just seem to miss this. Live on less or earn more.

6) A small return and a safe one is far more desirable than risk.
Don't get carried away by stories of easy riches, be safe.

7) Let not yourself get niggardly and afraid to spend. 
Spend on yourself 70% of what you earn and make your family happy. Life is good and rich with things to enjoy.

7 Cures for a lean purse
1st cure:
Start fattening the purse. Spend one less than you earn. Put back one more coin than you have used up. (Save!)

2nd cure:
Control expenditures. expenses grow with desires.
Write down all you desire. Get 100% value demanded for each coin spent.
(Spend wisely.)

3rd cure:
Make the gold multiply. Put each coin to labor that it may reproduce.
(Invest wisely)

4th cure:
Guard thy treasures from loss. Secure the principal in investments where it can be reclaimed if desired and collect a fair return on it.
(Don't lose what you earned or gained.)

5th cure:
Make a profitable investment of your dwelling. Build and own a home.
(Build a home and in a way that it becomes a good investment too.)

6th cure:
Provide in advance fro thy growing age and the protection of your family.
(Pensions, home, savings, royalties.)

7th cure:
Increase your ability to earn.
(Be more creative in how you use your abilities to earn.)

How to create wealth
Preceding accomplishment must be desire. Desires must be strong and definite. To be rich is no purpose.

The process in which wealth is accumulated - first in small sums, then in larger ones as man learns and becomes more capable.
For eg. Desire 5 pieces of gold - find the strength of purpose to achieve it. Then desire 10 pieces - similar ways.

To succeed over the others, be the best. Skill is required. The more wisdom we know, the more we may earn. The man who seeks to know more of his craft shall be richly rewarded.

Seek greater skill that you may better serve those upon who patronage you depend.

Things a man must do:

  • Pay his debts promptly
  • Take care of his family
  • Will of record
  • Compassion and aid to those who need

There is abundance for all.

Meeting the goddess of good luck
Procrastinator waits. Opportunity passes by. Crush the spirit of procrastination.

Make payment immediately when you are convinced that the bargain is wise. To attract good luck it is necessary to take advantage of opportunity.
Men of action are favored by the goddess of good luck.

The 5 laws of gold
Gold comes to any man who:

  • Puts not less than 1/10 of his earnings to make an estate for his future and that of his family.
  • Finds for gold profitable employment and multiplies it
  • Invests it under the advice of men wise in its handling
  • Stay away from those who invest in a business or purpose with which he is not familiar with or which are not approved by those skilled in its keep
  • Does not force it to impossible earnings, follow the advice of a trickster or trust it to his own inexperience and romantic desires.

The gold lender of Babylon
In this story Rodan the spear maker is given 50 coins of gold by the king. He wishes to give it to his sister whom he loves but seeks advice from the gold lender. Rodan has, through his efforts, only earned one gold coin a year from his savings. This reward is for a new design for a spear that he gives his king.
The advice on lending is thus:
The descending order of safety to lend is those
-  whose possessions are of more value than they desire
- have capacity o earn, human effort
- those who have neither earning capacity nor property

Keep the treasure safe. Make it earn. Be conservative.
Better a little comfort than a great regret.

On repayment of debt
In the camel traders parable where he cites his change in fortune from being burdened by debt to transform into a wealthy camel trader.

Debts were my enemies. Pay them back.
Where determination is, a way can be found.

The wisdom of the clay tablets from Babylon
1) 10% of all one earns to be saved - plan for future prosperity
2) 70% of all that is earned must be spent to provide a home, to take care of his wife, clothes to wear, food to eat and not lack in pleasures and enjoyment.
3) 20% of all that is earned to go to repay debts. Engrave names of all to whom one is indebted.

The luckiest man in Babylon
In this they talk of Arad Gula, who became a rich man from being a slave.
Work is the best friend I have known. If you find a master - work as hard as you can, even if he does not approve of you. Work makes you a better man.
Others will see your spirit.

There is no short cut. No sudden fortune. One must be wise and postpone gratification. Make use of skills to earn. Sharpen the skills to earn more. Pursue wisdom. Work as hard as you can and seek opportunity to earn more.

From what you earn, save 10% and no less. Make this money earn on safe investments guided by people who talk based on their experience. Look for safe investments and incremental growth. Don't be greedy and seek high return and lose your principal. Be conservative in investing.

Be careful with the money you earn or gain. Do not lose it. Do not lend to people who cannot repay you or who do not have the earning capacity nor properties that exceed that amount of the loan. Continuously increase your capacity to earn. Spend less than you earn. Don't lose what you earn.

Provide a good home. Provide for your future. Provide for your family. Spend wisely. Don't be niggardly though - enjoy the pleasures of life but within what you earn. Get value for every coin you spend.

It's a wonderful book. Thanks Suresh.

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