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Summary: The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason

  • “The Richest Man in Babylon” by George S. Clason imparts financial wisdom through ancient Babylonian parables, focusing on saving, wise investment, and debt avoidance.
  • The book’s simple and practical advice is accessible to all, emphasizing discipline and self-control in financial matters.
  • While some advice may require adaptation to modern finance, the core principles of saving, investing, and financial education remain highly relevant for achieving financial success.

Think of this book as a map that will lead you down the path of prosperity. Full of entertaining anecdotes about the merchants and tradesmen of ancient Babylon, “The Richest Man in Babylon” shares practical techniques to help you earn more money, spend less of what you have, and use your existing resources to create wealth that will last a lifetime. In this book summary, you’ll explore key principles of financial success that will put you on the road to riches.

Learn timeless secrets to building a lifetime of wealth and prosperity.


  • Are looking for ancient wisdom to help solve your financial problems
  • Want to learn how to grow and preserve your personal wealth
  • Need to master the core principles of money management

Book Summary: The Richest Man in Babylon


What does prosperity mean to you? When you think about what matters to you in life, is achieving financial security one of your goals? Learning how to manage money is a skill anyone can learn and one that will enable you to live comfortably, accomplish your goals, and fulfill your ambitions. If you’re tired of living paycheck to paycheck, worrying about retirement, and dreading the bills that arrive in the mail, it’s time to change your approach to wealth management. Thanks to the techniques outlined in The Richest Man in Babylon, you’ll learn proven, timeless methods for increasing your income and protecting your assets.

The principles for financial success that you’ll explore in this summary are based on techniques that have been employed by wise people for millennia. From the golden age of Babylon to today, these seven rules for managing your resources are proven to enhance your prosperity:

  1. Increase your total income.
  2. Control your expenses.
  3. Grow your savings.
  4. Guard your wealth from losses.
  5. Make your home a strong investment.
  6. Save money for the future.
  7. Increase your streams of revenue.

When you have a steady cash flow and plenty of extra money in the bank, you’ll enjoy the happiness and stability that come from always having abundant resources to provide for your needs. Not only that, but you’ll be able to make progress in areas of your life that have been on hold and equip yourself with the tools you need to live a fuller, happier life.

In the following sections, you’ll learn from the citizens of Babylon, the wealthiest city in the ancient world. The Babylonians appreciated the value of money and understood that sound financial decisions could transform their quality of life. By acquiring money, saving it, and making it grow through careful investments, Babylonians provided abundant lives for themselves and their families and were well-prepared for their later years. Their model of financial management can teach anyone how to enjoy lifelong prosperity and peace of mind.

Out of the Ruins of Babylon

Babylon was the wealthiest, most glamorous city of its time. It enjoyed a thriving artistic culture, opulent architecture, luxurious amenities, and splendid gardens. Its people were educated and enterprising citizens, with some of the first astronomers, mathematicians, and financiers among their ranks. Thanks to a brilliantly engineered irrigation system, the once-arid land around the city was able to support abundant crops that could be traded for precious merchandise from around the world. Today, records of their way of life are revealed through hundreds of thousands of clay tablets they left behind, containing legends, laws, histories, and royal decrees, as well as intimate details from daily life — notes about trades, debts, and other transactions.

Through these records, historians have learned that the Babylonians were uncommonly clever financiers and traders, exchanging promissory notes and written titles to property during a time when those kinds of precise material records were unusual. These records also demonstrate some of the principles of wealth accumulation and management for which the Babylonians became known: They understood that acquiring money leads to success and provides a comfortable quality of life for those who look after their resources carefully.

Consider Clason’s fictional figure of Arkad, known as the richest man in Babylon, whose story exemplifies the Babylonian principles of financial success. Arkad was famed not only for his great wealth but also for his generosity to his family and to charities. He spent liberally, yet his riches increased. When two friends from his youth asked him about the secrets to his wealth, Arkad shared his wisdom. He noted that some people who earn money spend it all so that it quickly dissipates; others become misers who hoard their wealth; and still others are so overcome with fear of losing their money that they live full of anxiety and misery.

According to Arkad, the first step to financial stability is to keep a portion of all that you earn; if you’re just starting to save, begin with 10%. Before you pay for clothing, food, and other goods, set aside 10% of your earnings and then invest your savings so that they can work for you. No matter how little you earn, you should never save less than one-tenth of your income, and you shouldn’t let yourself buy anything from others until you’ve first set aside this portion for yourself. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you learn to get along without this small percentage of your earnings — soon, you won’t even miss it. Saving 10% consistently is the key to growing your tree of wealth because every bit that you save can be invested and earn you even more money.

Arkad advises that, if possible, you should save more than one-tenth of your income, but if that’s all you can save, be content with that amount. When it comes to the rest of your finances, live according to your income, balancing your needs and wants prudently. If you’re too afraid to spend your money, you won’t be able to enjoy all the worthwhile things in life. Remember: A part of all you earn is yours to keep, and you must prioritize paying yourself before you pay anyone else.

Seven Remedies for a Lean Purse

If you find your wallet and bank accounts looking thin, Arkad recommends practicing the seven Babylonian principles for wealth management that were mentioned in the introduction to this summary.

  1. Start expanding your savings by setting aside at least one-tenth of your income each time you get paid. The more you set aside, the more momentum you’ll build and the more satisfaction you’ll feel as you watch your savings increase.
  2. Control your expenditures by cutting back on unnecessary purchases. You’ll probably always desire more than your earnings can satisfy, and it can be tempting to spend more once you start to earn more. But by keeping your expenses low even as you continue to earn more, you’ll start building up substantial savings. Learn to live below your means instead of elevating your lifestyle to meet your income. To do this, create a budget and stick to it.
  3. Arkad tells his follows to multiply their “gold.” To do so, take the 10% that you’ve been saving and invest it so that it produces a separate stream of income on its own that you’ll receive whether you’re working or at rest. All the money you invest will work for you and produce dividends that, if reinvested, will continue to generate even more money.
  4. Once you’ve set up a savings and investment plan, the fourth step is to protect your “treasures” from loss. In other words, avoid making risky investments that might lose your principal. Before making any investments, carefully study your options and probable returns and be well-acquainted with the risks of any course of action. Know if there are any fees or extra charges associated with your investments that may erode a percentage of what your money is earning for you.
  5. Arkad recommends that you make a profitable investment of your home. Try to avoid paying rent if possible because that’s money you’ll never see again. You work hard to earn it, and it just gets handed to the landlord and disappears. Instead, invest in a home that you can care for, so it will increase in value as time passes. When you own the home that shelters you, you’re reducing your cost of living while making a solid investment that will benefit you and your family for years. If you ever sell your home, you’ll have built up some equity that you can put into your own pocket instead of a landlord’s.
  6. Secure a future income that will help you feel confident as you approach old age. Consider your future and how you want to live when you’re older and choose savings and investment plans that will yield a steady income when you’re no longer able to work. Provide for your future self while you still can and make sure that your family will be protected when you’re gone.
  7. Arkad’s seventh and final cure for a lean purse is to increase your earning ability. Earning more begins with motivation and perseverance that are translated into action. While you’re still of sound mind and able body, decide that you’ll become one of the most sought-after experts in your field, whether you’re a carpenter, a chef, or a dentist. No matter your profession, your advanced skills will be rewarded with increased income, and you’ll have more to show for your persistence and effort.

The Treasures of Babylon

Now that you understand the seven major Babylonian principles of wealth management, you might be interested to learn more about how you can generate wealth that rivals the treasures of Babylon in your own life. There are a few more techniques that you can employ to help you make wise decisions with your money and multiply your resources. No matter how little you currently have saved or how small your paychecks are, these strategies can empower you to invest the 10% of your income that you regularly set aside, so it will grow and bring you prosperity for years to come.

If you’re new to investing, it can be hard to know where to start. But the wise Babylonian advises that you do your research before funding any investment and investigate the character and background of the people who will be handling your money. It’s difficult to find moral, intelligent, trustworthy people who have the experience and knowledge necessary to put your money to work, but they can be found. And in the end, you’ll be glad you made the extra effort to carefully seek them out.

On a similar note, you should try to steer clear of investing in businesses or schemes that you don’t understand. Although no one can have unlimited knowledge of every investment possibility, a wise person invests only in opportunities that make sense to them. If you can’t identify how your capital is being multiplied or if the investment model is too complex for you to explain to a friend, it’s best to stay away. If there’s an opportunity that seems attractive but beyond your comprehension, ask questions until you understand it. Tricksters and con artists have sophisticated ways of hiding the means by which they separate you from your hardearned money. But if you persist in asking questions until you can discern how your money will be working for you, you’ll guard yourself against fraud and mismanagement.


In this summary, you’ve explored some of the timeless principles of financial success inspired by the wealth of the ancient Babylonians. You’ve learned the seven ancient techniques of money management, including how to increase your income, save money for the future, and invest your earnings.

Prosperity doesn’t happen accidentally or by magic; you must take prudent steps to pay yourself first, set aside a percentage of what you earn, and make sound investments that put your money to work for you. If you work steadily to increase your income and invest more and more of what you earn, you’ll gradually build a store of wealth from year to year that will serve as a steady stream of income in your later years.

As the wise Babylonian Arkad teaches, wealth that comes quickly goes away just as quickly, but wealth that is thoughtfully and carefully acquired will bring you lasting enjoyment, satisfaction, and peace of mind.

About the author

George S. Clason was a soldier, businessman, and writer who founded the Clason Map Company and Clason Publishing Company. Clason is best known for his series of informational pamphlets that taught readers how to spend responsibly and achieve financial success.


Personal Growth, Finance, Business, Nonfiction, Self Help, Personal Finance, Money, Personal Development, Economics, Microeconomics, Motivation, Self-Esteem, Investing, Relationships

Table of Contents

1. An Historical Sketch of Babylon
2. The Man Who Desired Gold
3. The Richest Man in Babylon
4. Seven Cures for a Lean Purse
5. THE FIRST CURE: Start thy purse to fattening
6. THE SECOND CURE: Control thy expenditures
7. THE THIRD CURE: Make thy gold multiply
8. THE FOURTH CURE: Guard thy treasures from loss
9. THE FIFTH CURE: Make of thy dwelling a profitable investment
10. THE SIXTH CURE: Insure a future income
11. THE SEVENTH CURE; Increase they ability to earn
12. Meet the Goddess of Good Luck
13. The Five Laws of Gold
15. The First Law of Gold
16. The Second Law of Gold
17. The Third Law of Gold
18. The Fourth Law of Gold
19. The Fifth Law of Gold
20. The Gold Lender of Babylon
21. The Walls of Babylon
22. The Camel Trader of Babylon
23. The Clay Tablets from Babylon
24. Tablet No. I
25. Tablet No. II
26. Tablet No. III
27. Tablet No. IV
28. Tablet No. V
29. The Luckiest Man in Babylon


“The Richest Man in Babylon” by George S. Clason is a classic personal finance book that imparts timeless lessons about wealth-building and financial success through a collection of parables set in ancient Babylon. The book is structured around a series of stories and practical advice offered by the character Arkad, the richest man in Babylon, to his friends and fellow citizens. Each parable addresses a specific financial principle, providing readers with valuable insights on how to attain financial prosperity.

Key financial principles discussed in the book include:

  1. The Importance of Saving: Arkad emphasizes the wisdom of saving a portion of one’s income regularly, typically at least 10%, to accumulate wealth over time.
  2. Wise Investment: The book advocates investing saved money wisely to generate passive income and make money work for you.
  3. Avoiding Debt: The book stresses the dangers of debt and encourages living within one’s means.
  4. Seeking Financial Knowledge: The characters in the book underscore the importance of educating oneself about money matters and seeking advice from experts.

“The Richest Man in Babylon” is a timeless classic that continues to be relevant and impactful in the realm of personal finance and wealth-building. George S. Clason’s choice to frame financial wisdom within the context of ancient Babylonian parables is both engaging and effective. The stories are not only entertaining but also serve as memorable and relatable vehicles for conveying key financial principles.

One of the book’s most significant strengths is its simplicity and practicality. The financial advice provided is straightforward, making it accessible to readers of all backgrounds and financial literacy levels. The emphasis on saving a portion of one’s income, investing wisely, and avoiding debt is a formula for financial success that can be applied by anyone seeking to improve their financial situation.

The book’s message about the power of discipline and self-control in financial matters is particularly resonant. Arkad’s teachings about the importance of saving regularly and living within one’s means remain enduring lessons in an age where consumerism and debt often lead to financial instability.

Moreover, the narrative style and relatable characters make the book an enjoyable and engaging read. The parables and lessons can be absorbed easily and provide a clear roadmap for those looking to take control of their finances and build wealth.

While “The Richest Man in Babylon” is a classic in the personal finance genre, it’s important to note that some of the financial advice, while sound, may need to be adapted to contemporary financial realities. Nonetheless, the core principles of saving, investing, and financial education remain as relevant today as they were when the book was first published.

In conclusion, “The Richest Man in Babylon” is a must-read for individuals seeking to improve their financial well-being. It offers timeless wisdom, presented through engaging storytelling, that can help readers take control of their financial futures. The book’s enduring popularity is a testament to its enduring value in the realm of personal finance and wealth-building.

Alex Lim is a certified book reviewer and editor with over 10 years of experience in the publishing industry. He has reviewed hundreds of books for reputable magazines and websites, such as The New York Times, The Guardian, and Goodreads. Alex has a master’s degree in comparative literature from Harvard University and a PhD in literary criticism from Oxford University. He is also the author of several acclaimed books on literary theory and analysis, such as The Art of Reading and How to Write a Book Review. Alex lives in London, England with his wife and two children. You can contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Website | Twitter | Facebook

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