Wisdom From Babylon

The Richest Man in Babylon, the book written by George S. Clason, is a regular revisit for me, at minimum on an annual basis. Written in story form and fairly short, it's a simple read, but full of the wisdom of handling money and building wealth. Here are some highlights of the great wisdom shared in this classic book. The concepts are fairly basic and practical, and yet most do not heed these simple rules of money that will, over time, create a fortune for them.

  • A part of all you earn is yours to keep - Set aside at least 10% of your income. Save it and invest it, don't spend it.

  • Seven Cures For a Lean Purse
  1. Start thy purse to fattening - Only live on 90% of your income. As stated above, you need to have the mindset and discipline that a part of all you earn is yours to keep.
  2. Control thy expenditures - Cut your expenses to the essentials. It's ok - and I believe necessary in order to keep your sanity and stay disciplined - to have some "fun" money set aside as an essential, but be realistic and keep it reasonable. You likely will have to cut some things out, but keep something you enjoy doing on the table. Use those things you want to do but can't fit in your budget to motivate you to get yourself in a position where you can add those things back in.
  3. Make thy gold multiply - Invest wisely the money you have been diligently setting aside. Put your money to work for you.
  4. Guard thy treasure from loss - Protect your principal from loss. Invest in secure investments, not "blue sky" propositions. Gain knowledge of what you're investing in. Find those who are knowledgeable and heed their advice.
  5. Make of they dwelling a profitable investment - Own your own home.
  6. Insure a future income - Put proper insurance and other protection in place to protect yourself and your family and provide for your needs as you get older.
  7. Increase thy ability to earn - Increase your knowledge and your skill set, and your ability to earn more will increase with it. Don't rely on policy or your boss for an increase in pay. Make yourself more valuable and the opportunities will come, or even better, you can create them for yourself.

  • The Five Laws of Gold
  1. Gold comes gladly and in increasing quantity to any man who will put by not less than one-tenth of his earnings to create an estate for his future and that of his family.
  2. Gold labors diligently and contentedly for the wise owner who finds for it profitable employment.
  3. Gold clings to the protection of the cautious owner who invests it under the advice of men wise in its handling.
  4. Gold slips away from the man who invests it in businesses or purposes with which he is not familiar or which are not approved by those skilled in its keep.
  5. Gold flees the man who would force it to impossible earnings or who follows the alluring advice of tricksters and schemers, or who trusts it to his own inexperience and romantic desires in investment.

    Here are a couple great little "one liner" pieces of advice as well:
  • Better a little caution than a great regret.
  • We cannot afford to be without adequate protection.
  • Where the determination is, the way can be found.
  • Opportunity waits for no man.
  • Men of action are favored by the goddess of good luck.
If you're in debt (and I'm talking here about "bad" debt such as credit cards or car payments, etc. There are plenty of instances, especially in business, where debt makes sense and can be used as a tool. We'll talk more about this in a future post) the book gives a simple formula to chip away at those balances that are hanging over your head. Live on 70%, use 20% to reduce your debts and pay off your obligations, and at the same time do not neglect to put aside 10% to save and invest. You can do it. Find a way.

I implore you to take these nuggets of advice seriously, and if you're not practicing them in your life, start doing it today. Not tomorrow, not next week, but today. Why won't most do this? First of all, it requires discipline, which is unfortunately severely lacking in our culture. Our "have it all and have it now" instant gratification mindset that is throw at us from every angle, easy credit and extremely little, if any, training on money before we get out into the real world all contribute to the reason why such a small number will even attempt this. Trying to keep up with your neighbors and their new cars, boat, RV and beautiful home (who, by the way, probably put themselves enormously in debt acquiring those things) will only strap you down and make you a slave to debt. Remember point 3 of the "Cures For a Lean Purse" - Money should be working for you. Make it your slave and make it produce a return for you. Don't put yourself in a position where it's the other way around.

Another reason most won't attempt these simple formulas is that it takes time. Again, in our culture, we want the instant gratification and the "quick fix". Everyone's hoping for a windfall. They sit there waiting for a "big hit" that (they think) will take care of all of their money issues. Just look at the number of people that play the lottery and you know it's true. Look closer at those who actually win, or who inherit a large amount of money, or who make it in acting or sports and all of the sudden have a huge sum of money but have no knowledge of the Rules of Money. Does their stroke of luck fix the situation? Rarely. More often than not they end up more broke than they were before. Why? It's because without the knowledge of how money works, more money flows through your fingers just as quickly as less. Money itself does not solve the problem. More money only makes you more of what you already are, and if you're terrible with money, with no plan or discipline, more money will just make you even worse with handling it. Knowledge and discipline are what gets you and keeps you in the place you want to be; with money working for you instead of you working for it.

Make your decision today to start following these simple but extremely effective rules of money. Remember, they're rules. They're how money works, so don't overthink, analyze or try to argue the points. Instead, embrace them and put them in action in your life. It will take time, it will take discipline, but I promise you will reap the rewards of it over the long term. Stay focused and stay disciplined. Teach these rules to your kids! Most of us aren't exposed to these philosophies until much later in life, when we've already lost time and made mistakes. If you haven't read "The Richest Man in Babylon" pick up a copy now and read it. You won't regret taking any of these steps now and not putting it off to another day.

1 comment:

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