The Richest Man in Babylon by George Clason

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The Book in One Paragraph

Pay yourself before you pay others. Spend less than you earn and invest the difference. Avoid buying things that have little or no value after a few months. Spend time accumulating skills and knowledge that others will pay you for.

The Richest Man in Babylon Summary

This is my book summary of The Richest Man in Babylon by George Clason. My notes include quotes, big ideas, and important lessons from the book.

  • “Pay yourself first.” You can only build wealth if you learn to pay yourself first, i.e. save some of your income. You pay others for goods and services all the time. Learn to pay yourself before you pay others.
  • ‘A part of all I earn is mine to keep.’ Say it in the morning when you first arise. Say it at noon. Say it at night. Say it each hour of every day. Say it to yourself until the words stand out like letters of fire across the sky.”
  • The 8 rules of money: 1) Pay yourself first 2) Control your spending 3) Invest wisely 4) Guard your money from extreme losses with insurance 5) Keep your housing expenses reasonable 6) have a retirement plan 7) Increase your ability to earn 8) Know where you are and where you’re headed financially.
  • The rules of money never change. “The sun that shines today is the sun that shone when thy father was born, and will still be shining when thy last grandchild shall pass into the darkness.”
  • “When no buyers were near, he talked to me earnestly to impress upon me how valuable work would be to me in the future: ‘Some men hate it. They make it their enemy. Better to treat it like a friend, make thyself like it. Don’t mind because it is hard. If thou thinkest about what a good house thou build, then who cares if the beams are heavy and it is far from the well to carry the water for the plaster. Promise me, boy, if thou get a master, work for him as hard as thou canst. If he does not appreciate all thou do, never mind. Remember, work, well-done, does good to the man who does it. It makes him a better man.”
  • “Proper preparation is the key to our success. Our acts can be no wiser than our thoughts. Our thinking can be no wiser than our understanding.”
  • Surround yourself with people who are good with money, who know how to manage it and make it work for them. 
  • “It costs nothing to ask wise advice from a good friend.”
  • “Wealth, like a tree, grows from a tiny seed. The first copper you save is the seed from which your tree of wealth shall grow. The sooner you plant that seed the sooner shall the tree grow. And the more faithfully you nourish and water that tree with consistent savings, the sooner may you bask in contentment beneath its shade.”
  • Spend time accumulating skills and knowledge that others will pay you for. By doing so, you’ll insure that you always have the means to earn an income and increase your income over time.
  • The more rare your knowledge, the more money you can demand for your time and expertise.
  • “Our wise acts accompany us through life to please us and to help us. Just as surely, our unwise acts follow us to plague and torment us. Alas, they cannot be forgotten. In the front rank of the torments that do follow us are the memories of the things we should have done, of the opportunities which came to us and we took not.”
  • “Opportunity is a haughty goddess who wastes no time with those who are unprepared.”
  • Use insurance when necessary. It’s important to protect yourself against extreme financial losses.
  • Debt can be wiped out quicker than you think with consistency and discipline.
  • Whether you like it or not, money plays a role in leading a good life. Those who never master money will never master freedom over their time.
  • Most people never accumulate serious wealth because they don’t focus on it and work towards it consistently. 

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