Summary of The Richest Man in Babylon-How To Build Sustainable Wealth

Josiah Nang-Bayi, MD
9 Min Read

A modern-day rendition of the Seven Cures to A Lean Purse- Summary of The Richest Man in Babylon

Principles are the foundations on which every sustainable success is built. Strategies may change with time, circumstances, and the state of individual minds, but principles are unaffected by these constantly changing factors.

The 1926 classic, The Richest Man in Babylon, by George S. Clason, undeniably one of the greatest books on wealth creation, contains several principles, which remain relevant today as they did not just in the 18th century but in the days of old Babylon. Outstanding among these Principles, are the seven cures to a lean purse – the most pragmatic guide to escaping a life of constant financial struggles to one of affluence and financial liberty

Start thy purse fatten: Start with a committed decision to save a fixed percentage of your earnings regularly.

This first step requires a regular wage, out of which Arkad recommends you dedicate 10% to increase your savings. Note this, it doesn’t have to be a white-collar job, nor does it require you to earn a substantial amount you would consider adequate for daily survival. In essence, your inability to save has very little to do with how much you earn and everything to do with your level of discipline in spending.

No matter how little your wage may be, always pay yourself first, in savings, at least 10%, before you distribute the rest of your money into other people’s pockets through your daily expenses.

For every 10 coins thou placeth within thy purse take out for use but nine. thy purse will start to fatten at once and its increasing weight will feel good in thy hand…


Control thy expenditure: learn to tame your desires and keep your circle of perceived “needs” as little as possible

The truth is that our expenses tend to increase with our income, unless we consciously make the efforts to tame our desires. Have you noticed how regardless of the increment you receive on your earnings it just never seems to be enough? There is always something waiting for you to make more money and spend on it. Desires grow like weeds grow in the space the farmer leaves, whenever there is a chance of them being gratified. Always plan your spending in such way that you can pay for necessities, afford a comfortable and decent life for yourself and family, without spending more than 90% of your income. This way you limit the spaces left for disabling desires to sprout.

What each of us calls our “necessary expenses”, will grow to equal our incomes unless we protest to the contrary


Make thy gold multiply: Invest your saved income into profitable and sustainable ventures.

Real wealth is not measured in how much active income you make from directly exchanging your time and energy for money, nor how much cash you have sitting in the bank. Wealth is measured in how much you can earn passively through systems you have built and investments you have made, that continuously and incrementally generate income for you, even in your absence. Savings is sometimes seen as an investment but when you take into consideration factors such as inflation, rising cost of living and currency devaluation, you realise money packed in savings and not invested loses value overtime. investable options include: shares/stocks, real estate, or setting your own traditional business with an idea that is scalable.

To put each coin to labouring that it may reproduce its kind… and bring to thee income, a stream of wealth that flow continuously into thy purse


Guard thy treasures from loss: Choose your investment such as to protect your principal

In our world today, technology and the internet has brought an explosive era of opportunities. Most of these so-called business and investment opportunities are unsustainable high yield schemes being paraded as opportunities. In seeking investments for your saved income, ensure that the risk of losing your hard-earned capital is well calculated. There is no 100% guarantee in any venture. However, If the enterprise ends up not as profitable as calculated ensure that you don’t lose your capital; guard and protect it!

The first sound principle of investment is security for thy principal. is it wise to be intrigued by larger earnings when thy principal may be lost?


Make of thy dwelling a profitable investment: Own your home as soon as possible.

For the fifth cure to a lean purse, George S. Clason speaking as Arkad, the richest man in Babylon, advises that as soon as possible. you should own your home, and avoid renting into the later years of your life. Money spent on rent can never be regained, but if put into building a home you own, will always be yours.

In recent times, financial advisers seem to have been a bit divided on the topic. However, when you study the arguments on both sides carefully, there is a reasonable congruence. The wisdom in renting vs owning a home is about timing and one’s stage of life. In the early stages of your life when you are still building foundations for your finances, with an average income flow, it may be wiser to rent as building or buying a home can be quite demanding, financially, and will come with additional cost maintenance and utility bills. But one should have a plan to build finance for that purpose and eventually establish a comfortable home for your family while you and your family are still young and energetic enough to enjoy it.

Insure a future income: Ensure that in all your expenses and investment you install long-term financial backups that you can always fall upon in the future, especially in your old age.

Some people buy lands, while others build houses (as income generating assets) for this purpose. In general, what you must do is build up an asset column that outgrows your liabilities and consist of short, medium and long-term financial plans. Buying into insurance policies is also another modern-day approach to insuring a future income. Infact, this concept was prophesied in in The Richest man in Babylon.  

Therefore do I recommend to all men, that they, by wise and well thought methods do provide against a lean purse in their mature years; for a lean purse to a man no longer able to earn or to a family without its head is a sore tragedy

Arkad, The Richest Man In Babylon

Increase thy ability to earn: consistently strive to become wiser in handling money and increase the size of your assets bag.

Arkad said, this is the process by which wealth is accumulated; first in small sums, then in larger ones as a man learns and becomes more capable. The more of wisdom we know, the more we may earn. That man who seeks to learn more of his craft shall be really rewarded.”

With these seven cures, it is my hope that each of us will progressively fatten our lean purses; escape the wide jaws of financial struggle, debts and poverty; and build a wealth empire that would transcend our generations yet unborn.

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Josiah Nang-Bayi, MD is a medical doctor by profession, an author, a financial literacy and digital assets enthusiast, an entrepreneur and a growing philanthropist.
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