★ Rockstar Book Review: “The Richest Man in Babylon”

George S. Clason

Reviewed by:
On February 17, 2017
Last modified:February 7, 2018


Read this book. Read it, share it, reread it. I doubt you'll be disappointed. It has the potential to change the way you feel about and relate to money. Its place among the classics is well deserved.


This is part of our Rockstar Book Review series.
Be sure to check out all previous books we’ve covered!

“The Richest Man in Babylon” by George S. Clason

rockstar rating 5 stars

Who it’s for: Anyone who enjoys good stories, especially those with life lessons attached.

Readability: MEDIUM. The stories in this 200-page book are relatively short and standalone, but the author chose to use wording to show these are “ancient parables,” which can make them hard to follow at times. Further, the book was first released over 90 years ago (1926)!

What I liked about it: This is a book composed of ten parables that were originally written and distributed as pamphlets—in some cases by financial institutions—in the early part of the 20th century as a means of teaching the public about sound personal money management principles. These parables make the information contained in the book easy to retain and share with others. Some of the key lessons are also often boxed, bolded or italicized for effect, making them easy to reference.

What I didn’t like about it: I liked all of it (though I did note in readability that some readers may take issue with the author’s “ancient” writing style).

It’s no surprise to me that this book has been such a success. The stories are appealing and the writing is such that the wisdom it contains is entertaining rather than preachy. The wise characters, often the protagonists,  share lessons learned from past mistakes to allow their audience to learn from their experience and avoid the pitfalls in their own financial management. Each tale is both cautionary and full of hope. The book is so enticing that I re-read it cover-to-cover as I was preparing this review!

Amazon @ $6.99 || Free @ the library :)

“The Richest Man in Babylon” – Ten Tales Worth Reading and Sharing

Clason’s work is a true gift to the world. His parables entertain and educate in the areas of personal finance and living the good life, namely in the areas of saving, avoiding debt, investing, continuous learning, and the monetary and non-monetary value of hard work.

Theme #1: Saving

The book teaches the value of saving 10% of earnings for the long-term, to be used to invest, insure the household against loss and to provide a cushion against hard times. Many stories include warnings against the ramifications associated with a lack of savings, and how it can affect both a person’s potential for success and their general disposition.

Theme #2: Avoiding Debt

All Clason’s stories caution against the use of debt, other than when this debt is used as part of a deliberate plan in an area where the borrower has some expertise. Clason’s characters are often shown as slaves to debt that resulted from poor choices such as consumerism, speculation or poor investment decisions.

If thou contentedly let the years slip by and make no effort to repay, then thou has but the contemptible soul of a slave. No man is otherwise who cannot respect himself and no man can respect himself who does not repay honest debts. (pg. 133)

In situations where debt is to be repaid, Clason suggests that 70% of money earned should go to living expenses, 20% to debt repayment and 10% to savings & investing.

One noted exception regarding debt is the author’s belief that home ownership is an acceptable type of personal debt, as long as this debt is repaid within a few years’ time.

Theme #3: Investing

img_9289The author cautions the lenders (investors) to choose investments that are lower risk in order to protect their hard-earned principal. Clason stipulates via his characters that the investments should not be speculative and should provide a fair return for investing in solid businesses and people who have a proven track record of paying back what is owed. Further, he addresses the need to seek collateral of various types when lending money for a venture or for personal use.

Finally, he cautions that under no circumstances should a lending situation result in the lender bearing the burden of a debt to a friend or to family—an unfortunate, yet common, pitfall.

Clason also makes a point of highlighting that procrastination can have a significant impact on our ability to accumulate personal wealth through compounding interest.

The spirit of procrastination is within all men. We desire riches; yet, that spirit of procrastination from within doth urge various delays in our acceptance. In listening to it we do become our own worst enemy. (pg. 74)

Theme#4: Continuous Learning

What’s worth more than money according to Clason? Wisdom. This book is full of references to the importance of:

  • understanding and applying good money management principles
  • learning from our mistakes to ensure we don’t repeat them
  • studying potential investment opportunities to ensure they’re the right fit
  • mastering our craft and staying abreast of developments in our industry and
  • passing on this learning to others who would benefit from the information

The more wisdom we know, the more we may earn. That man who seeks to learn more of his craft shall be richly rewarded. (pg. 54)

Theme #5: Valuing Hard Work

Along with continuous learning comes the value of hard work. The stories in the book—the one titled “The Luckiest Man in Babylon” in particular—emphasize that hard work not only increases our potential to do well in life, but also makes us feel good about ourselves in our day-to-day activities.

His view? If we’re going to do work anyway, we should do it to the best of our ability as it’s a reflection of our value to the most important person who needs convincing from time to time, especially when the going gets tough: ourselves.

The Bottom Line

Read this book. Read it, share it, reread it. I doubt you’ll be disappointed. It has the potential to change the way you feel about and relate to money. Its place among the classics is well deserved.

Where you can find the book: Amazon @ $6.99
Where you can find the author: Wikipedia 

For other more recent books of this type, I suggest “The Wealthy Barber” by David Chilton and “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki.


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Hélène is Rockstar Finance’s Curator of Books, and Blogger at FreetoPursue.com. A perpetual student, speaker, writer and coach, you’ll often find her reading, researching or writing. She also likes travelling and hanging out with her husband and their greyhound Belle.

Last modified: February 7, 2018

9 Responses to :
★ Rockstar Book Review: “The Richest Man in Babylon”

  1. Very nice! Adding this one to my library check-out list. :)

    1. Glad to hear. I doubt you’ll regret investing the time reading it. It’s entertaining and covers the essentials.

  2. One of my all-time favorites! Great review.

    1. Hard one to beat, isn’t it? And I’m pleased to hear you liked the review Cody, especially given it’s one of your faves.

  3. Trip says:

    Excellent review of a classic book Helene. I also agree that this book is for anyone. I read it last year and it was the first of two book reviews on my site:

  4. R. Chisholm says:

    This is the book my father shared with me as a teenager that has been the guiding light to my financial strategies for 30 years. Both my children received copies of this book when they were teenagers! (As will my grand-children … God willing!)

    1. Wow! Stating that a book has been a “guiding light” for 30 years is certainly quite the endorsement RC! And what a great gift to give to your children. Especially this book, as Clason has such a pleasant way of conveying this all-important information. It’s more of a “showing” than a telling book, and it uses the most powerful learning medium ever: parables. They’re easy to understand and hard to forget.

    2. J. Money says:

      That’s awesome R. Chisholm :) Taking notes to hand out to my kids too once they get old enough (right now they think any coin is a “penny” and stuff either costs $1.00 or $1 Million haha….)

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