George S. Clason’s The Richest Man in Babylon is a great book for those looking to further understand the financial world.

I LOVE to read. I presume you do, too. I also love to prosper, just like you!

Towards fulfilling our common twin interests, there is one particular book I reread each year to remind myself of basic money lessons. It is George S. Clason’s classic, The Richest Man in Babylon.

Over the next few weeks, I hope to touch on key financial planning principles I have learnt from this outstanding book and applied in my life. I have also incorporated many of those principles into my practice to help my clients better manage and grow their resources. Clason’s masterpiece of Babylonian parables started out as a series of standalone pamphlets on thrift and financial success, which he began writing ninety years ago, in 1926.

Each parable is set in ancient Babylon. Out of Clason’s pamphlets came this amazing book, which has been described by the Los Angeles Times as “... a great gift for a graduate or anyone who seems baffled by the world of finance and a wonderful, refreshing read for even the most experienced investor.”

In the foreword of The Richest Man in Babylon, Clason writes: “This book of cures for lean purses has been termed a guide to financial understanding. That, indeed, is its purpose: to offer those who are ambitious for financial success an insight which will aid them to acquire money, to keep money and to make their surpluses earn more money.”

In his first chapter, Clason begins weaving a word painting of ancient Babylon through the dialogue of two friends.

Clason shows us the earnest chariot maker Bansir perched on the low wall surrounding his modest, well-kept home. He has a chariot to complete and really should do so because money is running low for Bansir and his wife.

Yet he sits unmoving, trying to figure out why he and so many other friends never have sufficient money, while a few others have far more than they could ever finish spending.

Bansir’s depressed contemplation is interrupted by Kobbi, the musician. Kobbi has stopped by to see if he may borrow some money from his husky lifelong friend to tide him over until that evening’s noblemen’s feast, where Kobbi will play his lyre to earn some money.

They discuss their long evident inability to get ahead in life. Bansir’s mounting frustration is clear: “From early dawn until darkness stopped me, I have laboured to build the finest chariots any man could make, soft-heartedly hoping some day the Gods would recognise my worthy deeds and bestow upon me great prosperity. This they have never done.”

Even though Clason placed his fictional characters in the polytheistic Babylon of millennia past, Bansir and Kobbi’s financial woes are similar to those challenging us today.

Eventually, the two friends realise the first step of the solution they crave for is to simply ask to be taught the ways of wealth by a childhood friend named Arkad, who has grown in financial stature to become — you guessed it — the richest man in Babylon.

The burning desire for wealth exhibited by our two friends is a prerequisite for attaining real wealth. It is vital to understand this. Therefore, may I suggest, you use the coming week to look in two directions: outwards and inwards.

FIRST, look around for friends and family who are less well off than you; then kindly, wisely and proactively choose to be generous with your current knowledge of personal finance principles.

Share what you already know with them by, perhaps, encouraging them to not spend every sen they earn, but to save a portion for the inevitable rainy day.

SECOND, bravely face your biggest financial fears. Those might include retiring poor or suffering from an expensive medical condition. Write down your concerns. Then, like Bansir and Kobbi heading out to seek advice from Arkad, ask one or two of your savviest friends what they have done to succeed and prosper.

When they tell you, take notes. Then take action.

Rajen Devadason is a Securities Commission-licensed financial planner, professional speaker and author. Read his free articles at He may be connected with on LinkedIn at https: //