What can possibly be learned about modern finance from a book first published in 1926, you ask? What is so worthwhile about The Richest Man in Babylon that causes it to still be in print today? This week, we’ll look closer at this personal finance classic to see what hidden gems are within.
The Richest Man in Babylon first appeared on the scene in 1926 as a series of informational pamphlets on basic financial management. By 1927, several of these pamphlets had been compiled into a book and this collection has been in print ever since.
In short, The Richest Man in Babylon is a series of financial parables. These stories are set in ancient Babylon and relate the story of a Babylonian regular guy who used some basic financial sense and built up a great deal of wealth.
What’s so great about that, you ask? The stories are laid out like Aesop’s fables: each story has a concrete point or two that becomes apparent from reading and digesting the message. These points are basic tenets of how to get ahead financially in any time, not just in Babylonian times or in the 1920s.
This book is perfect if you learn by reading the experiences of others. The entire book is told in a story-like format, so it often goes down much like reading a collection of short stories. The language is a bit strange, as the author attempts to sound like this is an authentic tale from the ancient days, but the messages are as clear as sunlight.
So what are these messages? As the week progresses, I’ll move through the lessons found in The Richest Man in Babylon and attempt to see if they still apply today. At the end of the week, I’ll give a “buy or don’t buy” recommendation.
The Richest Man in Babylon is the seventh of fifty-two books in The Simple Dollar’s series 52 Personal Finance Books in 52 Weeks.