The Richest Man in Babylon Summary & Study Guide

George Samuel Clason
This Study Guide consists of approximately 36 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Richest Man in Babylon.
This section contains 697 words
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The Richest Man in Babylon Summary & Study Guide Description

The Richest Man in Babylon Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

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George S. Clason presents a series of stories about the ancient Babylonians that are meant to teach the reader lessons about personal finance. The stories begin with that of Bansir, who is a chariot maker struggling to provide the luxuries his family desires. Each chapter then builds upon this initial story, reiterating past lessons and introducing new ones so that the reader is able to gain a gradual understanding of how to manage their personal finances based on simple principles.

Clason's structuring of the stories allows the reader to gradually work through the basic tenets of Babylonian finance. The author begins slowly by presenting a character that the reader can easily identify with, Bansir. Bansir is a man who works hard at his job but still feels that he is not earning as much as he would like too and wishes to be able to buy the finer wares in the marketplace for his family. Bansir's problem is that he does not know how to alter his station in life when he makes a fixed income and must care for his family from that amount. Bansir is wise enough to seek the advice of a friend who has achieved the exact thing to which Bansir aspires.

Arkad was once a menial laborer like Bansir but with determination and perseverance he has been able to improve his station in life until he holds the title of the richest man in Babylon. Arkad willingly tells Bansir the secret of his success although he tells him that the piece of advice alone is not enough to make Bansir wealthy. Bansir will have to learn how to apply the advice if he is to have enough to live the type of life he desires. The foundational building block for those desiring to increase their wealth is this: part of everything you earn is yours to keep. Arkad tells Bansir that this means he should pay himself at least one-tenth of all he earns before paying his debts. In this way Bansir will be able to begin saving some of his money. From this basic piece of advice all the other principles of Babylonian finance grow.

Subsequent chapters relate how one can cure a lean purse. Arkad again is the dispenser of this wisdom as he spends seven days explaining the seven cures for a lean purse. The first cure is the original bit of wisdom passed on to Bansir: saving one-tenth of one's earnings. The others include controlling one's expenditures, making one's money multiply, guarding one's savings against loss, making one's home a profitable investment, providing for one's future, and increasing one's ability to earn. Arkad explains each of these ideas in turn and at length giving his students plenty of time to digest his meaning.

Arkad also dispenses the five laws of gold to his son, Nomasir. These five laws are remarkably similar to the seven cures. One is first advised to put aside one-tenth of all his earnings. Secondly, one's savings should be properly invested so that the money increases but this should be done only under the advisement of a wise counselor. Money invested in unfamiliar practices or given to tricksters is easily lost and should not be expected to be recouped. These principles are restated in each story as each story tells of a man who did not initially follow the principles and so lost out on a great deal of money.

The final chapters of the book tell how these ancient principles are still applicable to today. A professor who translated a set of clay tablets put the practices of Dabasir into action for himself to see if they would indeed work in modern society. The professor relates how over the course of one year he is almost out of debt and expects to be completely free of debt within another year. Not only is the professor almost debt free, but he and his wife have altered their spending habits so that they managed to save a tidy sum which they then invested. This investment should be enough to carry them through retirement and allow them to travel, as they've always desired.

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